In every NFL training camp this summer, there's a winner and a loser fighting for the same position. The Seahawks players in suburban Seattle are no different in this zero-sum game. One player moves up in the depth chart and another must fall or drop out altogether.
The winners two weeks and one exhibition game into fall camp are rookie quarterback Russell Wilson, wide receiver Braylon Edwards, rookie linebacker Bobby Wagner and seventh-round pick guard J.R. Sweezy.
The corresponding losers include quarterback Tarvaris Jackson, newly signed Terrell Owens, linebacker Barrett Ruud and veteran guard Deuce Lutui.
Jackson took the largest fall dropping from the starter's role last December to playing behind ex-Packer backup Matt Flynn and Wilson.
Edwards and Owens joined the Seahawks in the past couple of weeks after rejections or no responses from other NFL teams. They're in the midst of an intriguing tussle for the last receiving slot on the 53-man roster.
Veterans Ruud and Lutui face potential demotions with the impressive play of Wagner and Sweezy at linebacker and guard, respectively.
It's still early in training camp, but the pressure to perform will only increase as the first round of cuts looms.
With Tarvaris Jackson's decline and reduced reps with the ones and twos, Russell Wilson's stock increased during training camp. He's a solid backup behind Matt Flynn.
He impressed the Seattle crowd and coach Pete Carroll in his first game action as a Seahawk.
The ex-Wisconsin Badger took snaps behind center with the twos and threes in the second half. Wilson threw a 39-yard touchdown to Braylon Edwards. He finished the night completing 12 of 16 passes for 124 yards, with one interception.
Wilson's mobility was evident late in the fourth quarter when he scored on a 32-yard keeper. He gained 59 yards on three carries to round out an excellent night running and throwing.
“I am interested to see what he’s going to do next,” Carroll said. “It was really fun watching him. He did some marvelous things” (via Seahawks.com).
Quarterback Tarvaris Jackson finished last December with a 3-1 record. Despite his late season success, he's the third option in Pete Carroll's quarterback rotation. Jackson failed to get a single snap in the opening exhibition game against the Tennessee Titans.
In December, Jackson threw for 804 yards and four touchdowns with zero picks. His completion percentage was an impressive 63.6.
Two factors played a role in the ex-Viking's decreasing value: newly acquired Matt Flynn and rookie Russell Wilson.
Jackson acknowledged in his August 2nd press conference that he had to work on a number of items during training camp (via Seahawks.com):
“Everything, I feel like you can get better at all parts of your game, but just getting rid of the football," Jackson said. "I know a lot of times last year I was taking hits and he (Carroll) was like, ‘Don’t take the hit, get rid of the football, take the sack.’ Get better at accuracy going down the field more, down-field accuracy on the deep ball, just everything all over the board.”
Braylon Edwards signed on as a free agent with Seattle on July 31, 2012. The 2007 Pro Bowler scored a second-half touchdown against the Tennessee Titans on Saturday night with a highlight reel, leaping grab from quarterback Russell Wilson.
The former Michigan Wolverine is holding his own despite a crowded set of receivers on the roster. With the arrival of Terrell Owens and a slew of returning veterans, Edwards needed a big night to increase his chances of making the team.
Edwards' hard work and progress are being noticed by head coach Pete Carroll (via Seahawks.com):
“He’s done very well and he’s learning really fast, he moved in the first day and has been able to translate to what’s going on and get out and start playing," Carroll said in his August 7 press conference. "He’s made some great catches and today he made two great catches so he’s factoring in and making a bid for some playing time and all that so well see how it goes."
Terrell Owens inked his contract a week after Braylon Edwards signed his deal. Both wideouts are competing for the same final receiving spot.
Edwards benefited from an extra week or drills and practice. His performance in Saturday's matchup against the Titans gave him a leg up on Owens.
The always colorful Owens returned to the NFL after sitting out the 2011 season. His football career appeared to be over after an aborted arena football stint ended prematurely.
Owens said in a press conference (via Seahawks.com):
“I think a lot of people don’t expect me to use that word humble but again there have been a lot of moments were I had to face and use that word and having to play in the indoor league in Texas," Owens said. "I think me just being around those guys and they are very hungry to get to where I am now. Just to be around them and to know that I was at the top at one point and now what it’s like to rebuild my career and start over, play with some lesser talent guys but other than that it was an eye opener for me. I used that experience to keep myself in shape throughout this process and again everything happens for a reason."
Head coach Pete Carroll is willing to give Owens another chance, but remained non-committal about his playing time (via Seahawks.com):
"I’m not going to tell you how much he’s going to play or whatever because I do not know but he is in the competition and he makes competition even better for all of us," Carroll said in his August 7 post-practice media session.
This could Owens' final NFL opportunity.
Rookie linebacker Bobby Wagner stepped in for the injured Barrett Rudd in the exhibition opener. He made the best of his playing time with three tackles and one assist.
Wagner's quickness and athleticism were evident in Saturday's game. It's something that coach Carroll noticed during training camp (via Seahawks.com):
“I’m really excited about our speed," Carroll to the media after the August 5th training session. "... Of course Bobby has done great; we are really excited about him. We just have to take care of him and get him ready for the game."
The former Utah State linebacker has a good chance of winning an opening day starting assignment.
Barrett Ruud has to be concerned after watching Bobby Wagner in practice and his better-than-average effort in the first exhibition game.
Ruud came into camp after offseason surgery. He sat out the Saturday's game due to a sore left knee.
The eight-year veteran linebacker started nine times in 2011 for the Tennessee Titans. Prior to joining the Titans, he played in Tampa Bay for six years.
If his knee acts up and Wagner continues to progress, the 6'2", 241-pound linebacker could be relegated to a backup role.
J. R. Sweezy, Seattle's seventh-round draft pick, played with the first unit in the Titans game. The 6'5" rookie from North Carolina State was a defensive tackle before the Seahawks drafted him as an offensive guard.
Offensive line coach Tom Cable commented on Sweezy's remarkable progression from defense to offense (via The News Tribune):
“I’m shocked, really,” Cable said about Sweezy’s quick development. “I think he’s doing a fine job in terms of his learning. Every day it’s new for him, in terms of whatever he’s experiencing he’s never experienced before.
“He’s not the typical defensive lineman who played offensive and defensive line in high school. He was a linebacker and fullback kid in high school. So he’s never been an offensive lineman and never put his hand on the ground that way. So this has been his first time, and his transition so far, I would say he’s ahead of schedule. Now let’s see how far we can take it.”
Sweezy's played both right and left guard Saturday night. His fast ramp-up will pressure several offensive linemen to hold on to their spots.
Guard Deuce Lutui started 72 of 93 career games at both right and left guard with Arizona before joining the Seahawks.
With the emergence of J.R. Sweezy in training camp and his stellar play in his CenturyLink Field outing, Lutui has seen his minutes decline.
What's bad for the ex-USC lineman, is positive for coaches Tom Cable and Pete Carroll The emergence of Sweezy adds flexibility on the offensive line.
"That is the reason why there is a space there (on the offensive line) for us," Carroll said to the media after the July 31 training session. "Tom [Cable] is taking advantage of that by moving some guys in to get a good look" (via Seahawks.com).