QUARTERBACKSThe skinny: Tarvaris Jackson
was anointed the starter at the beginning of training camp. But if the Seahawks struggle to compete in the team’s first five regular-season games,Charlie Whitehurst
could get the nod after Seattle’s bye week in October. Carroll’s not looking for an explosive playmaker from the quarterback position, but just someone who can manage the game and not turn the ball over.
Backups: Whitehurst has used the demotion to second team as motivation to have his best training camp as a Seahawk. And Josh Portis has been a pleasant surprise, showing the athleticism, poise and potential.
RUNNING BACKSThe skinny: Marshawn Lynch
is expected to get the majority of the carries, withJustin Forsett
getting the nod on third down.Michael Robinson
isn’t a traditional fullback, but is enough of a thumper in the running game and is also a standout special teams performer.
Backups: The Seahawks don’t have a runner with a similar running style as Lynch, so should he get injured, that could be a concern.
WIDE RECEIVERSThe skinny: Sidney Rice
is the most talented receiver Seattle has had on its roster in decades, and could be the first Seahawks’ receiver to make the Pro Bowl since Brian Blades went to Hawaii in 1989.Mike Williams
should benefit with better matchups on his side of the field because teams will have to pay attention to Rice.
Backups: Seattle likes the overall depth at this position; expect Golden Tate to emerge and play a larger role in the offense in his second season. Ben Obomanu is a solid performer who also helps on special teams.
The skinny: With John Carlson done for the year with a shoulder injury, Anthony McCoy needs to step up and provide some support in the run game as a blocker, and also serve as a red zone threat in the passing game. Zach Miller, picked up in free agency after four years in Oakland, is a Pro Bowl-caliber tight end and upgrades the position.
Backups: Dominique Byrd has been impressive catching the ball down the middle of the defense, and Cameron Morrah (toe) starts the year on the PUP list.
The skinny: Tom Cable is the fourth different offensive line coach this team has had in three seasons. The expectation, though, is for more consistency in Cable’s version of the zone blocking scheme. The key for the line is health; last season the team used 10 different starting offensive line combinations.
Backups: Rookie James Carpenter and Breno Giacomini will battle for the starting right tackle job, while Carpenter also provides depth inside at guard.
The skinny: Brandon Mebane moves back to his more comfortable position of nose tackle, which should help strengthen Seattle’s run defense, along with the return of Red Bryant from season-ending knee surgery. However, this unit still needs to get a more consistent pass rush.
Backups: Depth is a concern after Seattle lost the versatile Jimmy Wilkerson to a season-ending knee injury in the team’s final preseason game. Unknowns Clinton McDonald, Al Woods and Landon Cohen will have to fill in when needed.
The skinny: David Hawthorne will be counted on to emerge as a defensive leader with Lofa Tatupu gone. Aaron Curry was asked to restructure his contract, making 2011 an important season if he wants to stick around after two years of not living up to his No. 4 overall draft status. After a year of off-the-field issues, Leroy Hill is back to playing at a high level.
Backups: Rookie K.J. Wright and Malcolm Smith have looked more-than capable if one of the starters go down, and Matt McCoy provides more depth, and a standout on special teams.
The skinny: The Seahawks decided to go young here, with Marcus Trufant, voted defensive captain, the only one with real experience. Seattle gave up 31 touchdowns through the air last season, third-worst in the league and needs better in 2011
Backups: Seattle will play more press coverage, so expect big corners Brandon Browner, Richard Sherman and Byron Maxwell to have an impact.
The skinny: On cut down day, the Seahawks surprisingly cut 10-year veteran kicker Jeff Reed and claimed Denver Broncos reserve kicker Steven Hauschka off waivers. However, coaches feel Hauschka has a stronger leg and more upside than the 32-year-old Reed. Jon Ryan is developing into one of the better punters in the league. And Washington reestablished himself as a top returner, although the league moving the kickoffs up to the 35-yard line should affect his number of touches.
Backups: Golden Tate likely will back up Washington on kickoff and punt returns.