Seattle Seahawks Face Tough Decisions at Receiver and D-Line

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Seattle Seahawks Face Tough Decisions at Receiver and D-Line
(Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

With rosters due to be set at 53 by Saturday, the Seahawks still need to decide on a kicker and then figure out what to do with nine other guys on the bubble. 

It all depends on (1) whether they put injured cornerback Marcus Trufant on the PUP for the first six weeks, (2) whether they keep five or six receivers, and (3) whether they feel both Nick Reed and Michael Bennett should be on the roster, giving them 10 defensive linemen.

Other than kickers Olindo Mare and Brandon Coutu, the bubble boys include receivers Ben Obomanu, Courtney Taylor and Jordan Kent; defensive linemen Reed, Bennett and Baraka Atkins; linebacker Lance Laury and defensive backs Kevin Hobbs and Jamar Adams.

Here's a breakdown of the Seahawks' roster:


QUARTERBACKS (3)

Definite: Matt Hasselbeck, Seneca Wallace

Probable: Mike Teel

Against Oakland, you could finally see some of what the Seahawks saw that made them draft Teel in the sixth round. When he has time to set, he can throw a very nice ball. He hit Deon Butler with a 22-yard touchdown pass, and then threw a beautiful 38-yard rainbow to Obomanu to put Seattle up 14-7. In a little over two quarters of work, he completed 11 of 19 passes for 148 yards, with no interceptions.

Wallace sat vs. Oakland to rest a strained lower abdomen. Good thing since the Hawks surely plan to use him as a utility offensive player this season, and the bet here is it will start in the opener against the Rams.


RUNNING BACKS (3)

Definite: Julius Jones, Edgerrin James, Justin Forsett.

James carried the ball twice, and he looked good doing it. He'll be a good No. 2 behind Jones. And Jim Mora would be wise to give him plenty of carries against Arizona, because James surely has a score to settle with the Cards.


FULLBACKS (2)

Definite: Justin Griffith, Owen Schmitt.

Griffith has won the starting job over second-year man Schmitt, and justifiably so. Griffith knows the offense better than anyone on the team, and he showed it in the preseason. He's a pro's pro.

 
TIGHT ENDS (3)

Definite: John Carlson, John Owens.

Probable: Joe Newton.

After two years of toiling in training camps and on the practice squad, Newton figures to finally make the final 53, beating out rookie Cameron Morrah.


WIDE RECEIVERS (5)

Definite: T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Nate Burleson, Deion Branch, Deon Butler.

Probable: Ben Obomanu.

Questionable: Courtney Taylor, Jordan Kent.

Obomanu and Taylor have always been the favorites for the last two receiving spots, and they both got a lot of looks vs. Oakland, but Obomanu would seem to be the favorite for the fifth receiver spot.

And, based on Mora's comments, the Hawks might keep only five. "We've got to look at everything they've done and decide who's the best man that fits this team. It's going to be a difficult decision, very difficult."

Note he said MAN, singular. Maybe he didn't mean it, but if he did, it seems the Hawks might lean toward Obomanu, a 2006 seventh-rounder who is the most experienced receiver in camp behind the top three.

If the Hawks keep six, Taylor would probably be the guy, meaning the three-year Jordan Kent experiment would be over.

By the way, Butler is the future in Seattle and could replace Burleson if the veteran leaves in free agency after the season. Butler simply is a professional receiver who catches the ball with his hands and is not afraid to go across the middle.  


OFFENSIVE LINE (9)

Definite: LT Walter Jones, LG Rob Sims, C Chris Spencer, RG/C Max Unger, RT Ray Willis, OT Sean Locklear, C Steve Vallos, OG Mansfield Wrotto.

Probable: OT Kyle Williams.

With Jones injured, the Seahawks must have a third tackle. They will probably find one on the waiver wire, but until then Williams will be the guy as he was at the end of last season. Among the tackles the Seahawks could pursue for depth are Mark Tauscher, Levi Jones, Jonas Jennings, Oliver Ross, Damion McIntosh. They also might wait until after the first game, for salary purposes, to add one.

The Hawks also have been rumored to be interested in demoted Green Bay C Scott Wells, but the only reason they might do that is if they put Spencer on IR. Even then, they still have Vallos and Unger at center.


DEFENSIVE LINE (9)

Definite:DE Patrick Kerney, DL Cory Redding, DT Colin Cole, DT Brandon Mebane, DE Darryl Tapp, DE Lawrence Jackson, DT Red Bryant, DT Craig Terrill.

Probable: DE Nick Reed.

Questionable: DL Michael Bennett, DE Baraka Atkins.

Reed has played his way on to the team, and his hustle will come in handy on special teams. Atkins probably lost his position to Reed, who is just a more dynamic player. If the Hawks keep 10 D-linemen, Bennett would be the last man in, but we think it's more likely he'll end up on the practice squad.


LINEBACKERS (6)

Definite: LB Lofa Tatupu, LB Leroy Hill, LB Aaron Curry, LB D.D. Lewis, LB Will Herring, LB David Hawthorne.

Probable:LB Lance Laury.

Curry came to play against Oakland, and it was good to see. He finished with four tackles, a sack and a forced fumble, and he was right behind Hawthorne on a sack on the first play. The Hawks are deep at linebacker after Herring and Hawthorne had good camps to prove their mettle, so if the team keeps six receivers and 10 D-linemen, Laury could be expendable.


DEFENSIVE BACKS (8)

Definite:CB Marcus Trufant, CB Ken Lucas, CB Josh Wilson, CB Kelly Jennings, S Deon Grant, S Brian Russell, DB Jordan Babineaux, S C.J. Wallace .

Questionable: CB Kevin Hobbs, S Jamar Adams.

Hobbs has not had a good preseason, and the only way he makes the team is if the Hawks put Trufant on the PUP. Jennings, meanwhile, had a pretty good preseason and could be a pleasant surprise as the dime corner this season. Adams might be destined for the practice squad again. 


Specialists (3)

Definite: P Jon Ryan, LS Kevin Houser.

Questionable:K Olindo Mare, K Brandon Coutu.

The kicking battle was supposed to be one of the best in camp, but it turned out to be a complete dud. Instead of dangling one of the kickers as trade bait, the Hawks will probably just end up cutting one. But which one?

Mare is the incumbent, with a strong leg, but he's older and more expensive than Coutu. Coutu is cheaper, younger and healthier than Mare, but his kickoffs aren't as good. In the end, health might be the deciding factor. 

If the Hawks go with Coutu, they also might consider using Ryan, who had an awesome preseason, to kick off. If they cut Coutu and no other team claimed him (unlikely), they could put him on the practice squad because he was not active for any games last season.


PRACTICE SQUAD
(8)

Probable: S Jamar Adams, DL Michael Bennett, S Courtney Greene, WR Mike Hass, RB Devin Moore, TE Cameron Morrah, WR Logan Payne.

Questionable: OL Andre Ramsey, DE Derek Walker.

Players are eligible for the squad if they do not have an accrued season of free-agency credit or were on the 45-player active list for fewer than nine games during their only accrued season(s). Players cannot participate on the practice squad for more than three seasons.

For a preview of the Pac-10 football season, with focus on the sad-sack Washington teams, go Outside The Press Box.  

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