The hardest day for 22 hopeful Seahawks players is just around the corner on Saturday when all 32 teams are required to trim their rosters to the league mandated 53-man roster for the beginning of the regular season.
Thursday's preseason finale against the Oakland Raiders will prove to be the last chance for a handful of players to prove themselves deserving of a spot on the team.
One player, seventh-round draft pick defensive end Nick Reed, has used every opportunity afforded himself to prove his worth to Coach Mora and the rest of the Seahawks staff.
In his three preseason games, Reed's official stats include seven tackles, three and-a-half sacks, one interception and a partially blocked punt. The rest of the team accounts for eight and-a-half sacks and four interceptions on the preseason.
Reed is looking like a draft day steal at this point. He was an afterthought by most teams since he plays smaller than the desirable measurements most scouts look for at the DE position. The same was said when the Seahawks reached in the second round for Lofa Tatupu in 2005 and that seems to have worked out so far.
When you watch his tape, Reed's smaller size is made up for in a big way by his quickness and absolute relentlessness to beat tackles off the edge with a great burst. He follows that with a good second move back inside or late burst. His awareness and ability to anticipate the snap has paved the way for his fantastic preseason play.
Reed is the epitome of a smart football player. The interception he made against San Diego showed why. Reed was thwarted in his bullrush but followed and diagnosed the play moving to his side and cut off the check-down screen to be in perfect position for the pick.
While the Seahawks have a pretty crowded defensive line as it is, not making room on the roster for Reed would be a huge mistake. In a time when effective pass rushers come at a high premium, several other teams would gladly employ his services on their opening day roster, so forget about him clearing waivers and being designated to the practice squad.
Assuming the Seahawks keep nine defensive linemen it would be safe to assume that Cory Redding, Patrick Kerney, Colin Cole, Brandon Mebane, Darryl Tapp, Lawrence Jackson, Red Bryant, and Craig Terrill, that leaves just one spot for Reed to slide into the depth chart.
Michael Bennett has made a strong case for himself as well, but Reed appears to be a more valuable special teams player than Bennett. Bennett could still make the team should the Seahawks choose to keep 10 defensive lineman and make a sacrifice in depth somewhere else, like linebacker for example. Additionally, Bennett is more likely to clear waivers than Reed making him available to join the Seahawks practice squad.
Reed has made an impact this preseason on the coaching staff as well as the fans. Not seeing him on the 53-man roster would be a disappointment since he has proven he has the ability and intelligence to play in this league and be effective.