After making 27 moves today, here’s how the Seahawks’ 53-man roster looks – for now:
Quarterback (kept three) – Tarvaris Jackson, Charlie Whitehurst, Josh Portis.
The word: No surprises here. Jackson, the ex-Viking who was signed in free agency, is the starter heading into next Sunday’s regular-season opener against the 49ers in San Francisco. Whitehurst assumes the backup role again, although he was much more in control and accurate this preseason compared to a year ago. Portis is raw, but oozing with potential – just what you look for in a developmental third QB.
Wide receivers (kept six) – Mike Williams and Sidney Rice, the starters; Ben Obomanu, Golden Tate, Kris Durham, Doug Baldwin.
The word: Tate likely did enough on Friday night against the Raiders to hold the spot as the slot receiver. Obomanu is the jack-of-all-spots and a valuable special teams player. Durham, a fourth-round draft choice, has size (6-6), speed and he showed his hands against the Raiders. Baldwin had as good a camp and preseason as anyone.
Running backs (kept four) – Marshawn Lynch, Justin Forsett, Leon Washington, Michael Robinson.
The word: Lynch did not play in the final two preseason games because a sore ankle, but is expected to start against the 49ers. The real trick for the coaches, and especially new coordinator Darrell Bevell, will be to find ways to get Washington more involved in the offense while still giving Lynch and Forsett enough touches. Robinson, the former college QB, is the bulked-up option at fullback and also a core special teams player.
Tight ends (kept three) – Zach Miller, Anthony McCoy, Dominique Byrd.
The word: The loss of incumbent starter John Carlson, who will have season-ending surgery to repair a torn labrum and was placed on IR today, is a blow and makes the addition of Pro Bowler Miller in free agency loom even larger. McCoy is the better on-line blocker, while Byrd did nice job of running routes and getting open in the preseason. In the three-tight formations, backup tackle Tyler Polumbus is an obvious option.
Offensive line (kept nine) – OT Russell Okung, OG Robert Gallery, C Max Unger, OG John Moffitt, OT James Carpenter/OT Breno Giacomini, the starters from left tackle to right; OT-OG Tyler Polumbus, OG-OT Paul McQuistan, C-OG Lemuel Jeanpierre.
The word: Okung has not played since spraining an ankle in the preseason opener against the Chargers, but is expected to start against the 49ers. The decision has yet to be made on who starts opposite him. Carpenter has been the starter since the start of camp, but Giacomini has been solid – whether on the field with the No. 2 unit or splitting time with Carpenter on the No. 1 unit. The sprained knee Gallery got Friday night makes McQuistan a just-in-case keeper and his experience will help line coach Tom Cable sleep better at night. Jeanpierre beat out Mike Gibson for the backup spot to Unger.
Defensive line (kept nine) – DE Red Bryant, NT Brandon Mebane, DT Alan Branch, DE Chris Clemons, the starters; DE Raheem Brock, DT-DE Junior Siavii, DE Dexter Davis, DT Pep Levingston, DT Clinton McDonald.
The word: The real key here will be keeping Bryant healthy. The run defense just wasn’t the same after he went down with a season-ending knee injury in the Week 8 loss to the Raiders last season – as the then No. 2-ranked run defense slipped to No. 21 by the end of the season. The move of Mebane to nose tackle allows him to use his disruptive – and deceptive – quickness even more effectively. Branch, the ex-Cardinal who was signed in free agency, steps in at the three-technique spot Mebane filled last season but also can slide outside to spell Bryant if needed. Clemons, who’s coming off a career-high 11-sack season, somehow remains underrated. Brock will team with Clemons as the edge-rushers in the nickel, the role that allowed him to collect nine sacks last season. Siavii also has the versatility to play inside or out. Levingston, a seventh-round draft choice, made plays whenever he was on the field during the preseason. McDonald, who was just acquired from the Bengals in the trade for Kelly Jennings, got a spot when Jimmy Wilkerson was placed on IR with the knee injury he got against the Raiders on Friday night.
Linebackers (kept seven) – OLB Aaron Curry, MLB David Hawthorne, OLB Leroy Hill, the starters; OLB David Vobora, MLB Matt McCoy, MLB K.J. Wright, OLB Malcolm Smith.
The word: The Seahawks somehow made it through last season using only four linebackers. This year, they have almost twice that many who can play, and make plays. After leading the team in tackles from the weak side last season, Hawthorne moves back into the middle to replace Lofa Tatupu, who was released in late July. That opened a spot for former starter Leroy Hill, who could be in the running for comeback player of the year if he continues to play as well in the regular season as he did in the preseason. After two seasons of talking about using Curry as a pass-rusher or having him drop into coverage, the coaches have discovered what he does best – stuff the run from the strong side. Because of injuries to all three starters, Wright, Smith and Vobora all got invaluable reps with the No. 1 defense. McCoy and Vobora also will be key special teams players.
Defensive backs (kept nine) – CB Marcus Trufant, CB Brandon Browner, FS Earl Thomas, SS Kam Chancellor, the starters; CB Walter Thurmond, CB Richard Sherman, CB Byron Maxwell, S Atari Bigby, S Jeron Johnson.
The word: The team’s on-going youth movement is epitomized here. Trufant is the longest tenured Seahawks and one of only five players who are 30-something. Browner provides the bigger corner (6-4) coach Pete Carroll has been looking for since he arrived in January of 2010, as does Sherman (6-3) – and both are as physical as they are tall. Thurmond’s immediate role seems to be as the nickel back while he chips away at the rust from missing most of camp with a sprained ankle. The free-ranging Thomas and physical Chancellor could be the starting safety tandem for years. Bigby supplies the veteran presence that was lost at safety when the club decided against re-signing Lawyer Milloy and Jordan Babineaux. Johnson and Maxwell earned their roster spots with the way they played in the preseason.
Special teams (kept three) – K Jeff Reed, P Jon Ryan, snapper Clint Gresham.
The word: Reed was four of five in the preseason, hitting from 53 and 52 yards and having a 53-yard attempt blocked against the Raiders. He steps in for Olindo Mare, who signed with the Panthers in free agency. Ryan returns to continue his assault on the franchise record book. Gresham has quietly slammed the door on what was a problem spot the past few years.