Aug 6, 2013; Renton, WA, USA; Seattle Seahawks linebacker Mike Morgan (57) participates in drills at training camp at the Virginia Mason Athletic Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Today at 7 p.m. the Seattle Seahawks will take the field for their first preseason game this year, and, as always, a number of young, talented players will be battling for the 53 roster spots available at season’s start. Without further ado, these are the guys who you should keep your eyes on tonight.
Quarterback: Tavaris Jackson
He’s fighting with Brady Quinn for the backup quarterback position, I expect T-Jack to win out and be the only other QB to remain on the 53-man roster, but keep your eyes on him anyway.
Fullback: Derrick Coleman
The man to watch for at this position, Michael Robinson, is better without a doubt, but most modern NFL teams don’t use a fullback very often, and Robinson is rather overpaid relative to the league. If Coleman can hold his own, the Seahawks might want to cut Robinson to save cap space.
Wide receiver: Phil Bates, Stephen Williams, Chris Harper
So far at training camp, Williams has been leading the battle for the fourth wide receiver spot, and after cutting Early Doucet yesterday, I expect him to make the team. All three will have to fight it out this preseason, though, because I expect the Seahawks will only keep five wide receivers on the 53-man to start the season.
Tight end: Luke Willson, Sean McGrath, Cooper Helfet
Willson should definitely make the 53-man roster but his stellar athleticism makes him an interesting guy to watch. As for McGrath, he looked solid last year, but spent much of it on the practice squad. At this point, I expect him to take the final tight end spot, but Helfet is a bit of an wild card and one to keep an eye on.
Offensive line: James Carpenter, Alvin Bailey, Rishaw Johnson, John Moffit, JR Sweezy
Carpenter will be coming off an injury and may not play much, or at all, today but, going forward he should be an important component of this line. Bailey and Johnson are both players who are more on the edge of the roster but have played well so far in camp and are potential backups. Sweezy is currently penciled in to start, but much like last year it is very tentative. Look for Moffit to potential claim the starting right guard position.
Defensive line: Jesse Williams, Jordan Hill, Tony McDaniel
McDaniel is currently the starter at the 3-technique spot (or left defensive tackle) but Jesse Williams could very easily challenge for that position to start the season, either way both these guys should see a good number of snaps this year. Jordan Hill on the other hand currently sits behind Brandon Mebane and Clinton McDonald on the depth chart at nose tackle, however he is very quick and active and could potentially find his way into the third down rush package.
LEO/SAM linebacker: Mike Morgan, Benson Mayowa, O’Brien Schofield
These two positions, while ostensibly different, are combined here because Pete Carroll has made it very clear that he looks for the same players at both positions and expects these players to be capable of performing either position’s duties. This should be a tough battle between these three and all three may well stick around for awhile depending on Chris Clemons’ rehab timetable. Carroll has been effusive in his praise for Schofield; it seems as though he and Morgan are the frontrunners to make the 53-man roster if only two are taken.
WILL linebacker: Kyle Knox, John Lotulelei
I don’t know that the Seahawks will be able to keep both of these guys, so I would keep my eyes peeled for either of these two. Going into camp it was expected that Lotulelei would be the backup at the WILL spot but currently Knox seems to have the upper hand.
Cornerback: Walter Thurmond, Jeremy Lane, Byron Maxwell, Will Blackmon, Ron Parker, Antoine Winfield
The Seahawks corners would seem to be the defensive group to watch, especially the battle between Walter Thurmond and free agent signing Antoine Winfield. Winfield has the edge for now, but Thurmond has been getting rave reviews so far in camp and I’d expect him to be the nickel corner by next year. The other four guys will be fighting for the backup left and right corner spots. Parker and Blackmon seem to be the least likely to make the roster. Lane’s kick returning ability makes him a near-lock for a roster spot.
Safety: DeShawn Shead, Winston Guy, Jeron Johnson, Chris Maragos
Once again, four will go in and two will come out. This shouldn’t be a terribly exciting position battle because Johnson is very solid and should hold his backup strong safety spot. As long as Shead isn’t a disaster, I expect him to earn the backup free safety spot simply because of Maragos’s heavy cap hit.
Keep an eye on all these guys tonight; any one of them could have a big impact this season.