Aug 11, 2012; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Seahawks tight end Sean McGrath (45) carries the ball and stiff arms Tennessee Titans defensive back Aaron Francisco (47) during the 2nd half at CenturyLink Field. Seattle defeated Tennessee 27-17. Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-US PRESSWIRE
In review of preseason game one, and to supplement my Seahawks Rookie Report, let's take a look at a few veterans and UDFAs on the fringes of making the Seahawks roster. We'll go position-by-position, starting with the offense:
Tarvaris Jackson - Looks pretty solid in the new colors, and they stayed pretty clean on Saturday. The writing is on the wall for the former Viking, and it's only a matter of time before he's out. Some think he'll be the starter if Matt Flynn gets injured before the regular season, but I couldn't disagree more. I don't think Pete Carroll will have any reservations about starting Russell Wilson, and in fact, I think he'd relish the opportunity to start him in a non-controversial scenario (like, say, if there's an injury to Flynn).
And before you go asking or yelling at me on Twitter, no, I'm not saying that anyone is hoping Flynn gets hurt. Just making the point that if Carroll was forced to go with someone other than Flynn as the starter, for any reason, I disagree that Jackson would get the nod over Wilson. In that scenario, however, I could see Jackson staying on as the backup. Seattle is trying to trade him though (heard from sources other than media), and if they could garner a pick (any pick) for him, it should be considered a win.
Josh Portis - We probably won't see any of this guy until Preseason Week 3 at the earliest, but he's a guy that coaches like. Strong arm, mobile and mechanically sound from the pocket. Again, there's nothing really to grade here except what we've seen in practices (which hasn't been a ton), but I think he's a guy that Carroll and Co. see as a part of the future, even if initially remaining the 3rd string QB. He makes a lot more sense as the 3rd guy than Jackson does. More to come on Portis, once we see some action in a game.
Kregg Lumpkin - Lumpkin displayed solid burst and a bit of power on Saturday, averaging nearly 4 yards per carry on six carries. But considering that Robert Turbin is on board, a guy like Lumpkin really doesn't have a place here unless he can fill a fullback spot and excel on special teams. But even the latter scenario would require an injury to either Michael Robinson or Turbin. He does possess better natural power on contact than Turbin and could be a suitable backup and short-yardage ‘back in the case that a guy like Turbin, or even Lynch suffers injury prior to the season starting.
Tyrell Sutton - Sutton had a couple of slips that led to him falling earlier than he should have on what looked to be potentially productive plays (one kick return, one run). There's certainly some quickness to this guy, and in many ways he's similar to Justin Forsett in terms of not being afraid to play physical and engage defenders head-on. He has a reputation as a guy who can make some catches too, but the lack of straight-line speed pretty much puts him in the same boat that Forsett ended up in with this team - he's not an every-down ‘back, and on third downs, it appears Leon Washington will be the guy, considering that he's back up closer to the speed he played at pre-injury. Again, a guy like Sutton could provide some insurance in camp, in the case of an injury, so you may see him stick around a bit longer for that reason.
Vai Taua - Taua looked good last year in limited PS duty, and he possesses the one-cut run style that suits this blocking scheme. He's put on some weight and did line up at fullback quite a bit on Saturday, so the versatility that he brings makes for yet another "insurance" type of guy to buffer for injury. The fact that he's been in this system for over a year now (was a Practice Squad member last year) may give him a leg up on a guy like Lumpkin, but even still, I just don't see room for a 5th RB on this roster (Lynch, Turbin, Washington, Robinson) unless the ‘Hawks settle on 5 receivers (which I don't think they will - certainly not in favor of any of these three ‘backs).
Off The Bubble This Week: Marshawn Lynch, Robert Turbin, Michael Robinson, Leon Washington
Kris Durham - Durham, last year, displayed clean routes, good acceleration, impressive ball skills and solid hands throughout camp and in preseason. The tape on him at Georgia was impressive (despite him seeing limited action there) as well, and although he was a surprise grab in the 4th round last season, he appeared at the time to be as advertised. This year, so far, he's had a pretty volatile camp. He has dropped too many passes, is struggling to separate and doesn't appear to be playing with the same energy we saw last season.
There's something psychological going on here, and it's not helping his case for making the roster. At 6'6 and with plus athleticism for his size, Durham is a guy you really want to work out simply because he's the ideal fit, physically, for the "Pete Carroll Receiver" and has the potential to be a go-to possession guy from various areas of the field. I still think he has a shot at making the roster, but an inexcusable drop on the only pass he saw Saturday night has to be the only one of those we see for the rest of the preseason if he's going to make the cut. The additions of Terrell Owens and Braylon Edwards to the mix will make it that much harder, especially as guys like Ben Obomanu and Deon Butler continue to do the little things right.
Ben Obomanu - Obomanu probably has the best shot of all the "fringe" receivers, of making the final roster simply due to the fact that he knows the offense well, is consistent in his route running, and is a great special teams player. He's a veteran, but doesn't appear to be slowing down, and doesn't really need to do anything spectacular. He knows how to get open, is physical and crafty in how he creates separation both down the field and across it, and he's a good blocker in the running game. He can also line up anywhere (slot, flank, split) and be a factor. Look for the ‘Hawks to put him in the slot more, now that Owens and Edwards are here. Obo will be in the competition all the way to the end of camp.
Deon Butler - Butler made a couple of catches on Saturday and continued to display the suddenness and crispness in his route running that made him a keeper when Carroll and Schneider took over. As for the straight-line speed, we haven't really seen it on display yet this preseason, but in light of the emergence of Doug Baldwin last season, the acquisitions of Owens and Edwards, and the health improvements of Sidney Rice, it will be the vertical capabilities of Butler that I think will either earn him or lose him a roster spot. Thus, I think there's an unspoken competition between Butler and Ricardo Lockette that will yield one of them making this roster, but not both. Speed will be the key here.
Ricardo Lockette - Lockette doesn't come close to possessing the route-running capabilities of a Deon Butler, but he's certainly more physical, is probably more capable of consistently beating a physical press outside, and may even track the ball better vertically. Where Lockette struggles is with his consistency. He has far too many concentration lapses in practice and will drop too many of the easy ones. But speed kills, and he has more of it than anyone on the current roster, which makes him highly appealing in a corps of receivers that for the most part, lacks a consistent deep threat. He has three games (now that he's healthy) to win a spot on the roster, and he'll do it by consistently beating press on the outside, separating and finishing plays down the field.
Other WRs to consider:
Charly Martin - Martin has been around the league for a bit, but has never really had a solid opportunity to contribute as a receiver. He showed on Saturday night that he possesses some awareness and route-savvy in being able recognize zones and sit down in space. He's a solid fundamental hands catcher with good size (6'1), and clearly knows how to block downfield (see Russell Wilson TD run). There's a lot to like about a gutsy, tough receiver who can do some dirty work. But with Baldwin and Obomanu possessing more experience as receivers, Seattle already has a couple of options for this type of role. If nothing else, Martin has a shot of catching on with another team by maintaining his level of play throughout the preseason.
Phil Bates (UDFA) - The former Ohio QB came into OTAs and turned some heads with his ability to separate and play the ball in the air. He's big (6'2, 215), physical and fearless in the heart of the field. He just hasn't gotten a ton of opportunities to show what he can do in a game. Saturday, he was in for several snaps but didn't see a throw; however, as QBs get more comfortable throughout the preseason, look for him to be a target over the middle and from the slot. Chances are slim to none that he actually make the roster, but I could see him sticking on through camp and after cuts, being added to the practice squad for further development.
Lavasier Tuinei (UDFA) - I scouted Tuinei while at Oregon, and I saw a guy that possessed impressive natural burst for his size, and soft hands to pluck the ball. After the catch, he could be tough to bring down, and at 6'5, he's an ideal size-fit for the roster. In camp, however, he has struggled to separate consistently. I could see him being a rotational joker type who can line up close to the tackle and beat linebackers and safeties, but there's been nothing that I've seen so far to indicate he can consistently beat outside NFL corners.
Off the Bubble This Week: Sidney Rice, Braylon Edwards, Doug Baldwin, Terrell Owens, Golden Tate
"What's A Bubble?": Jermaine Kearse
Cameron Morrah - Morrah's biggest enemy is his health. Here's a guy with better pure athleticism than any other TE on the roster. We've seen it on occasion, but he simply hasn't been healthy enough to generate consistent results. With the number of injuries that Seattle already has to worry about at the position (Zach Miller - concussions, Kellen Winslow - knee), the ‘Hawks simply can't afford to take on a third liability, which is why I think Morrah is in trouble. With Anthony McCoy possessing better blocking skills and guys like Sean McGrath (UDFA) impressing, Morrah has no time to waste in proving that his play on the field is worth the substantial risk of putting a 3rd injury-prone TE on a roster that will carry four, at most.
Anthony McCoy - We saw McCoy drop a huge 3rd down pass from Flynn on Saturday, but there's one thing that McCoy has going for him - he can block. That's not to say he's safe. I think the emergence of Sean McGrath should be sending a clear message to McCoy that his job is by no means safe, and holding on to a 6-yard pass is critically important at this stage. The guy knows how to catch. He did it well at USC and we saw some good things out of him in the passing game last year as well, but he's always had a tendency to lapse in concentration. The competition demands that he improve immediately in this area, but I do think he has a leg up on Morrah at this point.
Sean McGrath (UDFA) - McGrath comes out of Henderson State where he broke a few receiving records. Watching him, there are a few things that are undeniable - 1. he can catch the ball, 2. he runs solid routes; and 3. he's an aggressive blocker. Outside of Zach Miller, I can't say that I am as confident in these three abilities with any of the other TEs on the roster, as I am with McGrath. Now, he's had limited time to show what he can do, so I'm not going to jump the gun and infer that he has already beat out anyone on the roster. After all, training camp, preseason and regular season NFL competition are completely different things. Ask Golden Tate. That being said, McGrath displays consistent fundamentals and impressive awareness which are both key in a player's game translating across various levels of play. He has a legitimate shot at making the roster in the case that the ‘Hawks keep four TEs, and only needs to keep up his current efforts to put his best foot forward.
Others To Consider:
Cooper Helfet (UDFA) - Needs to get more reps, but he's athletic, quick and could be a Practice Squad candidate out of camp. A victim of numbers at this point.
Off The Bubble This Week: Zach Miller, Kellen Winslow Jr.
Alex Barron - Barron brings much needed experience and depth to the right tackle spot, and based on the tape from Saturday, should be safe for at least another week. He mirrored well in pass-pro although he did have 2 notable instances where he stopped moving his feet and surrendered more ground than he should of. However, he corrected course and got more comfortable as the game progressed. There's never been a doubt concerning this guy's tangible, physical abilities. He just hasn't ever shown the ability to consistently anticipate defenders. That said, he's serviceable as a backup at this point, and still gives you a chance if Giacomini goes down. Has also played some left tackle, so his versatility makes him appealing at this stage.
Frank Omiyale - Omiyale blew a lot of assignments in Chicago, and had some underwhelming moments on Saturday as well, at left tackle. Russell Wilson's ability to roll out certainly masked many of the O-line woes at first glance, but that won't work when it's Matt Flynn taking snaps. Omiyale is certainly athletic and rangy enough to hold his own at the tackle spot, but much like Barron, lacks anticipation. As for his run blocking, he got off the line and down field pretty quickly, and possesses the nimble feet to make adjustments on the fly. At this point, there isn't really anything left to develop with this guy. Just keep an eye on him throughout the preseason and see if he displays better consistency in pass protection.
Paul Fanaika - Fanaika possesses a ton of natural power and solid athleticism. He gets off the line quickly, displays good pop with his hands, solid base, good anchor and surprising lateral quickness. I've liked him since last season and think that he certainly has a shot at making the roster again. He's got a bit of a nasty streak and fits the Tom Cable mold of a road-grader type who can move for his size. He's not as good at the 2nd level, and seemed to take a couple of plays off from an energy standpoint on Saturday, which we all know won't fly around here. He needs to dial up the intensity on every play, and be mindful of the veterans around him who all have a legit shot at ousting him.
Allen Barbre - Barbre missed a couple of key cut-blocks and looked pretty pitiful in doing so if I'm going to be honest. That said, the guy does have seven starts under his belt in the NFL (GB), and has some imposing physical tools. I've got him pretty close to the top of the "bubble" list as a guy who may not last another two weeks here if he continues to squander opportunities by missing reads and whiffing on run blocks.
Rishaw Johnson - Johnson got snaps at guard on Saturday and displayed the power and athleticism that earned him a mid-round grade by Seahawks scouts prior to the draft. As a UDFA, Johnson is a potential steal, but he'll need to show rapid improvement each week. There are too many veterans in here now pushing the competition for him to take plays off or have intermittent lapses in effort (which I saw some of on Saturday). On a couple of pass plays, Johnson was knocked off balance relatively easily off the snap, and had some footwork issues when sliding laterally in pass protection. On run plays, he showed a good anchor, capability to drive bigger defenders off the block, and impressive quickness to the second level that could make him ideal for the system. He'll now be taking snaps at center with Jeanpierre suffering an injury, so any versatility Johnson can show will certainly help his cause. Watch him at guard, center and/or both on Saturday.
Others To Consider: Edawn Coughman
DK Note -- Derek has transitioned from doing league-wide NFL Draft analysis at his blog to a more focused and specific, Seahawks-centric draft - free agency - pro player personnel site called "ScoutTheSeahawks." It's now up - and it's definitely a site you must bookmark.