Key Position Battles to Watch in Seattle Seahawks' Training Camp

Ron Clements@Ron_ClementsCorrespondent IJuly 27, 2012

Key Position Battles to Watch in Seattle Seahawks' Training Camp

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    The Seattle Seahawks have several question marks entering the 2012 season.

    Will Marshawn Lynch get suspended for his DUI arrest? If so, who will step into his shoes?

    How will Sidney Rice respond from an injury-plagued 2011 season? Will Chris Clemons and Max Unger still play at a high level now that they have new, big-money contracts?

    But it all begins with the quarterback. Coach Pete Carroll said it’s a three-man competition between free-agent acquisition Matt Flynn, incumbent Tarvaris Jackson and rookie Russell Wilson.


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    Tarvaris Jackson has started 34 games in his NFL career, but can’t seem to convince anyone he’s worthy of a full-time starting job. He’s got a career passer rating of 77.7 with 38 touchdowns and 35 interceptions. Those aren’t great numbers by any stretch of the imagination, but Jackson is coming off his first career 3,000-yard passing season.

    So he should have convinced coach Pete Carroll and the rest of the Seahawks staff that he was ready to be the man, right?


    Going 7-9 and only throwing for 14 touchdowns while running the league’s fifth-worst offense won’t get it done.

    So the Seahawks went out and got Matt Flynn, who has just two NFL starts. But they were very, very, very good. In those two starts with the Green Bay Packers, Flynn threw for over 700 yards and nine touchdowns. So why isn’t Carroll naming Flynn the starter? Maybe it’s out of respect for Jackson.

    If that’s the case, it doesn’t make much sense to throw rookie Russell Wilson into the mix. All Wilson did in college was win. Whether it was at North Carolina State or Wisconsin, Wilson proved that he overcompensates for his lack of height (5’11”) with superior athleticism, good decision-making a very good accuracy and pass efficiency.

    Who will win the job?

    It’s nice that Carroll has enough respect for Jackson to make it an open competition, and he likes Wilson enough to let him join the conversation. But this job is Flynn’s. It was always going to be after they gave him a three-year, $26 million contract.

Backup Running Back

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    With Marshawn Lynch facing a possible suspension for a DUI arrest, the Seahawks are scrambling to figure out who will be his backup and potential starter in his absence.

    While Kregg Lumpkin and Tyrell Sutton are in camp, the competition will likely come down to Leon Washington and rookie Robert Turbin.

    Washington has a lot of speed and is a smaller scat-back who relies on his quickness to make people miss. It’s that kind of athleticism that makes him an extremely dangerous kick returner.

    Lynch is a downhill runner, and that’s the same style with which Turbin runs. Turbin, a fourth-round pick from Utah State, has already earned the nickname “Seahulk” for his massive upper body physique. The 5’10”, 222-pound Turbin fits more of the style of offense that coach Pete Carroll would like to run.

    Turbin would make the most sense to replace Lynch. He’s a similar runner, and then Washington’s role won’t have to change and he can still be just as dangerous on special teams.

Starting Guards

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    This is more about right guard than the left side. Deuce Lutui, who comes north from Arizona, should be able to handle the left-side duties.

    John Moffitt, a third-round draft pick from Wisconsin last year, could be the starter at right guard, but that is contingent on how well Moffitt’s knees will hold up. He had ligament concerns a season ago and missed the latter part of the season.

    Should Moffitt still be ailing, Paul Fanaika or Paul McQuistan could fill in. Fanaika played in three games last year on fill-in duty. McQuistan had to play both guard and tackle because of injuries to both starting tackles, Russell Okung and James Carpenter. McQuistan started a 10 combined games at guard and tackle, but is better suited inside.

Middle Linebacker

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    While Matt McCoy will compete for the starting job, it’s going to come down to Barrett Ruud and rookie Bobby Wagner.

    Ruud has been a starter for five of his seven years in the league. He started every game for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 2008-2010 and started nine games for Tennessee last year before being hampered by injuries. If he’s back and healthy, he’s likely the guy.

    Don’t discount Wagner. The second-round pick was coveted by several teams in the draft, including division rival St. Louis. Wagner just has a knack for the ball.

    He was the WAC defensive player of the year last year for Utah State and recording 147 tackles with four sacks and two interceptions. Wagner may be a bit undersized at 6-feet tall, but he weighs 241 pounds (Ruud is 6’2”, 241), moves well from sideline to sideline and has great football instincts.