The numbers in () next to the positions indicate the number of players who were on the Seahawks active roster at the start of the 2007 season.
Locks: Matt Hasselbeck, Seneca Wallace, Charlie Frye
Long shot: Dalton Bell
Hasselbeck is the starter, Wallace is the backup, and Frye is the #3. Frye is going to play a lot during the preseason so that head coach Mike Holmgren can determine whether or not he can use Wallace in other areas, such as wide receiver or as a punt returner.
Running back (4)
Locks: Julius Jones, Maurice Morris, Leonard Weaver
Looking good: Owen Schmitt, TJ Duckett
On the Bubble: Justin Forsett
Long shot: David Kirtman
Morris started the preseason opener and Jones will get the start this week against Chicago. They are the “co-starters” according to Holmgren, meaning it’s safe to assume that their spots on the roster are secured. Weaver is the starting fullback.
Duckett saw plenty of action last week and has been learning both the tailback and fullback positions in the offense. Given Seattle’s struggles in short-yardage situations the past two seasons, the 254-pound Duckett’s spot on the roster appears to be safe. Schmitt saw plenty of action last week, as well, catching two passes out of the backfield and making a pair of tackles on special teams.
Forsett continues to impress and appears determined to make it difficult for the Seahawks to keep him off the 53-man roster. At this point, Kirtman is facing an uphill struggle for a roster spot.
Wide Receiver (6)
Locks: Deion Branch, Nate Burleson, Bobby Engram
Looking good: Ben Obomanu, Courtney Taylor, Jordan Kent
On the Bubble: Logan Payne, Michael Bumpus
Long shots: Joel Filani, Trent Shelton, Bryan Gilmore
Burleson will be the starting split-end, but two of the three “locks” for the 53-man roster likely won’t play until October at the earliest. Seattle has the option of freeing up a roster spot early on by placing Branch on the PUP list, but the team remains optimistic he will be ready for Kickoff Weekend. Should they place Branch on PUP, the earliest he could return is the October 19th game against Tampa Bay. Engram cracked a bone in his shoulder that will keep him out for 6-to-8 weeks.
The injuries to Engram and Branch mean Taylor, Obomanu and Kent are no longer being asked to simply earn roster spots, they’re now expected to produce. Obomanu has the most experience of the young receivers, but Taylor will likely replace Engram as the starting flanker. Obomanu will line up in the slot in three and four-wide sets. Kent showed last week that his size, speed and basketball background can be an asset in the red-zone.
Payne could press Obomanu for the slot receiver role, but he missed a week of practice and the preseason opener with a cracked rib. He is practicing now, but is wearing a red “no contact” jersey. Bumpus has been a standout during recent practices, but he’s most likely headed towards the practice squad.
First-year players Filani and Shelton are practice squad candidates, while Gilmore, the second-oldest receiver on the roster, is likely auditioning for the rest of the league.
Tight End (3)
Locks: Will Heller, John Carlson, Jeb Putzier
Long shot: Joe Newton
Waived/Released/Injured: Zac Alcorn (released - 7/26)
Veterans Heller and Putzier combine to form the one pretty good tight end the ‘Hawks are banking on Carlson becoming by the season-opener. Newton could spend another season refining his skills on the practice squad.
Offensive line (9)
Locks: Walter Jones, Mike Wahle, Chris Spencer, Rob Sims, Sean Locklear, Mansfield Wrotto, Steve Vallos
Looking good: Ray Willis
On the Bubble: Floyd Womack, Kyle Williams, Pat Murray
Long shots: William Robinson, Ben Claxton, Nick Jones, Samuel Gutekunst
Waived/Released/Injured: Chris Gray (placed on IR - 8/4)
The Seahawks hope that Walter Jones, Wahle, Spencer, Sims and Locklear will be the starters when the regular season begins. Back injuries have kept Spencer sidelined for all of training camp, forced backup Chris Gray into retirement, and vaulted Vallos into the starting lineup. Wrotto has also worked at center this summer. Willis is the team’s third tackle, so as long as he stays healthy, he’ll stick around.
Womack has the inside track for the 9th offensive lineman spot. Say what you want about his inability to stay healthy, he has more versatility and experience than Williams or Murray.
Robinson sprained his ankle last week, and centers Claxton and Jones are recent signees. Gutekunst will be with the ‘Hawks all season as an international practice squad player.
Defensive ends (5)
Locks: Patrick Kerney, Lawrence Jackson, Darryl Tapp
Looking good: Baraka Atkins
On the Bubble: Jason Babin
Long Shot: Nu’u Tafisi
Kerney will start on at left defensive end, with Jackson or Tapp starting on the right side. All three will be on the field in the nickel package, with Jackson lining up at tackle. Kerney has been sidelined with a strained calf, giving Atkins an opportunity to get some work with the first-team defense.
Babin played well against Minnesota, but he may need a dominating performance in one of the next two preseason games for the Seahawks to justify keeping a 5th defensive end.
Tafisi may land on the practice squad.
Defensive tackles (5)
Locks: Rocky Bernard, Brandon Mebane, Red Bryant
Looking good: Craig Terrill, Howard Green
On the Bubble: Larry Tripplett, Chris Cooper
Long shot: Kevin Brown
Waived/Released/Injured: Marcus Tubbs (contract terminated 8/11)
Bernard and Mebane are the starters. Bryant, a fourth-round pick in 2008, will also be on the roster. Terrill has been a valuable part of Seattle’s tackle rotation the last few seasons and signed a three-year extension in January. Green played well late last season and had a monster game against the Vikings last Friday (5 tackles, 2 sacks, 1 interception and a forced fumble).
Tripplett and Cooper missed the preseason opener, but could make a push for a roster spot if they can healthy. Both remain sidelined with injuries.
Brown is an undrafted free agent from UCLA who could land on the practice squad.
Locks: Lofa Tatupu, Julian Peterson, Leroy Hill
Looking good: Lance Laury, D.D. Lewis, David Hawthorne
On the Bubble: Will Herring
Long shot: Dallas Sartz
Waived/Released/Injured: Wesly Mallard (placed on IR 8/5); Matt Castelo (released 8/11); Eric Wicks (contract terminated 8/13)
Tatupu and Peterson are Pro Bowlers, and Hill is a good PR campaign from joining them. Laury and Lewis provide depth and anchor the special teams. Hawthorne, an undrafted free agent from TCU, has turned plenty of heads with his play this summer.
Will Herring (knee) hasn’t practiced at all during training camp. Dallas Sartz was signed on 8/11 to replace the injured Matt Castelo.
Locks: Marcus Trufant, Kelly Jennings, Deon Grant, Brian Russell, Jordan Babineaux, Josh Wilson
On the Bubble: Kevin Hobbs, CJ Wallace, Jamar Adams
Long shots: Omare Lowe, Kelin Johnson, Marquis Floyd
Waived/Released/Injured: DeMichael Dizer (placed on IR 8/3); Derrick Johnson (released 8/11)
Trufant and Jennings will start at corner, with Grant and Russell starting at safety. Jordan Babineaux is the nickel corner and 2007 2nd-round pick Josh Wilson will stick around as a 4th corner/kick returner.
Hobbs, Wallace and Adams may be battling for two roster spots. Seattle hasn’t carried a fifth corner into the season, but Babineaux’s versatility allows them to keep Hobbs. How Wallace and Adams perform on special teams could determine who gets that 8th roster spot in the secondary.
Johnson is a rookie, and therefore a practice squad candidate, but Lowe and Floyd would need a disaster to make the 53-man roster.
Looking good: Tyler Schmitt (LS)
On the Bubble: Brandon Coutu (K), Olindo Mare (K), Ryan Plackemeier (P), Reggie Hodges (P), Tim Lindsey (LS)
Mare handled the field goals and extra points against Minnesota, while the rookie Coutu handled kickoffs. I expect that to be reversed this week against Chicago.
Plackemeier returned to practice this week, but isn’t expected to play this week. Seahawks special teams coach Bruce DeHaven has indicated that he and Hodges are in a competition for the punting gig.
As the rare long-snapper who was actually drafted, Schmitt should be considered a “lock”. However, he’s undersized (6-2, 246) and now has a back injury that prompted the Seahawks to sign Lindsey. Schmitt’s snaps looked sharp in his debut, but for now, I’m downgrading his status on the roster.
Brian McIntyre writes about the Seahawks and blogs about the NFL. You can reach him here.