Training camp is almost here, and the excitement level has been building for months now in Seattle.
The Seahawks, after two-plus years of retooling under head coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider, might finally have a roster capable of putting together a winning season after two straight near misses at 7-9.
Over the next few weeks, Pete Carroll will once again put his "Always Compete" mantra to the test to get the 'Hawks ready for the season with positional battles likely to unfold as players jockey for starting roles while others fight for roster spots.
In a way, it's satisfying to see the 'Hawks enter camp with a fair amount of depth throughout their lineup, so much so that some starters could be challenged for their jobs, while a few players could be expendable.
Before camp starts, I figured it might be interesting to show how far the roster has evolved by focusing on a few players on the 'Hawks current roster who as backups or rotational players would probably start for other teams if given the chance.
After all, you never know if they'll come in handy this year or down the road, but for now, it's comforting to know they're on our side...if necessary.
With Mike Williams out of the picture following his release, it's hard to say whether wide receiver Ben Obomanu's odds of making the roster are better, worse or about the same.
Obomanu, now entering his fifth season in Seattle, is a wideout with decent size and skills that by now should have translated to a bigger role with the Seahawks, especially since he's been given several chances to play over the years.
And yet...he hasn't really distinguished himself as he seems to have a ceiling, in Seattle at least.
This summer, the competition at wide receiver will be perhaps the tightest given the sheer number of bodies involved. Obomanu as a veteran would, on the surface, seem like a solid candidate to make the roster and perhaps start, yet I'm not quite sure he will make the final roster.
Unlike years past, keeping Obomanu is a luxury the 'Hawks may no longer be able to afford with limited space on the roster.
If Obomanu is cut loose, expect that someone in need of depth at wideout (perhaps Cleveland?) will take a chance on him. If they're really desperate, don't be surprised to see him starting. Honestly, if Obomanu can avoid dropping passes, I truly believe he would make a solid starter in the NFL.
For now, though, he's got as good a chance as any to finally break through in Seattle.
This time last year, the 'Hawks secondary was arguably one of the team's biggest question marks, as the team fielded a patchwork of youngsters and an aging Marcus Trufant with the hopes they'd learn on the fly.
Once Trufant went down early last year, second-year man Walter Thurmond III took over the starting cornerback role and briefly held his own before suffering his own season ending injury against Cleveland.
Unfortunately for Thurmond, but to the delight to 'Hawks fans, the secondary moved on without him.
This season, the team's secondary is arguably the league's best, but whether Thurmond has a job once he's healthy remains to be seen.
Stranger things have happened in Seattle with Pete Carroll in charge, and one can never have too many young players capable of stepping into the starting lineup, so Thurmond may still get a shot at the starting corner spot at some point this season.
However, it's not something I'm necessarily rooting for, as it would mean either Brandon Browner or Richard Sherman fell short of expectations. At the end of the day, Thurmond is worth keeping in the fold just in case in spite of his injury history, but if he were available, I'd imagine quite a few teams would be interested in his services.
Isn't Paul McQuistan a starter at offensive guard?
Yes and no, as McQuistan started last year as a backup, but by year's end, was a starter after the offensive line fell apart due to injuries over the course of the season.
When given the chance, McQuistan played admirably, enough so that the 'Hawks made sure to re-sign him during the offseason.
Then, the 'Hawks followed up that move by bringing in Deuce Lutui from the Arizona Cardinals to add some depth and push second-year man John Moffitt; however, with Lutui entering camp in solid shape, he could be worth keeping eye on for a starting spot.
Once again, we all need to wait and see how things work out over the coming weeks, but expect Pete Carroll to find a role for McQuistan either as a starter or as a valuable super-sub.
Naturally, we should all be rooting for the best man to win out, but McQuistan strikes me as the kind of gutsy/gritty player with enough versatility to be a hidden gem that teams around the league wouldn't object to plugging into their starting lineup.
Much like Paul McQuistan, Barrett Ruud is a player with a solid shot at making the starting lineup, but could very well end up in a supporting role coming off the bench.
Ruud comes to the 'Hawks via free agency from the Tennessee Titans after a lackluster season shortened by injury following several solid years playing for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers hoping to take over the middle linebacker spot vacated by David Hawthorne.
Is Ruud capable of rebounding?
That is probably going to be one of the biggest questions going into camp for the 'Hawks and one that we should all be watching closely.
For the team's long-term success, rooting for rookie Bobby Wagner makes the most sense, yet if Ruud can find a time machine, it might not hurt anyone in Seattle for the short-term given his versatility to play both the middle and the outside.
If that's possible, a lot of teams may regret having passed up on the chance to sign Ruud this past offseason.
Depending on who you talk to, Tarvaris Jackson is either a decent starter who is capable of improving or someone who shouldn't be on the Seahawks roster.
However, unlike Charlie Whitehurst, I honestly think it's not that cut and dry, and Jackson, if given a chance, could start somewhere outside of Seattle or at the very least be a superb backup.
If, by the end of training camp, the 'Hawks decide to part ways with Jackson, don't expect him to sit by the phone for too long. Last season, he may not have led the Seahawks to the playoffs, but he showed enough to earn a shot at the starting job again this season.
If he were to sign elsewhere, would T-Jack have to deal with the same issues and adjustments playing in a new city?
Absolutely, but the season is long and quarterbacks get hurt. Feel free to make fun of this suggestion now, but beware...
The time may come where either the Seahawks or some other team may need to rely on T-Jack to fill in for either a quarter of a game or a quarter of a season.