Aug 7, 2012; Renton, WA, USA; NFL: Seattle Seahawks quarterbacks Tavaris Jackson (7), Russell Wilson (3), and Matt Flynn (15) wait for a training camp drill to begin at the Virginia Mason Athletic Center. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-US PRESSWIRE
So, the Seahawks, the rebels that they are, apparently decided not to include a preliminary depth chart in their Preseason Week One Game Release (or, maybe I just can't find it in there?), and let's be honest, that doesn't really matter anyway. Those things are basic, arbitrary to actual position at times (DE? WR? LB?, whatever), just plain wrong, and are going to change in a fluid manner over the next few weeks so let's just take a look at how we might guess the real-life depth chart looks heading into Saturday.
We'll start with the offense, and the quarterback position is an easy one. If you've been under a rock since yesterday, Pete Carroll announced that Matt Flynn will get the starters reps in practice this week and then play the whole first half against Tennessee this weekend. Russell Wilson is slated to play the entire second half and it looks like Tarvaris Jackson and Josh Portis will not get many, if any snaps. Carroll explained his decision:
"T-Jack came in in great shape, he's quicker than he was, he worked his tail off in the offseason. You could tell his arm is strong, he's fully recovered, he knows what we're doing, he's solid with everything, and at this time I think I can make a little bit of a shift and cut down his reps so that we can get a really good look at Matt and at Russell. To make a big decision like this, it's about your information that you gather, and I want really, really good information coming in so that we can make a really clear-cut choice as we do it.
"So how this is going to go, this week, from [Wednesday] through the game, Matt's the No. 1 quarterback. So he'll take all the reps Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and play the game, start the football game on Saturday night, and I'd like to get him to play through the half. Then Russell will play the second half for us, and he'll get the reps as the 2."
So, let's just pencil in the Preseason Week One Depth Chart on offense like this:
Moving on to running back. This one should be interesting to watch because my guess is that Marshawn Lynch will only see a series or two. They know what he brings, they know when healthy he's the feature back, and there's no need to give him a bunch of carries at this point in the preseason, inflicting undue wear and tear. Further, if he does end up with a suspension, the Seahawks do need to give Robert Turbin as many snaps as possible as his presumptive backup/replacement so the rookie can get comfortable running in the zone scheme and playing off of the starting offensive line. We've heard time and again how the running back is almost an extension of the offensive line in this zone scheme so getting reps with the first-team unit will be valuable.
Right now, I'd pencil in Turbin as the No. 2 running back, with Leon Washington No. 3. Which running back the Seahawks use on third downs, in obvious passing situations, should be something to watch and right now I might just guess that Turbin and Leon will platoon in this role when Lynch is in the lineup. I think Tyrell Sutton and Vai Taua should get a good amount of carries in the 2nd half on Saturday as they both fight for a back-end roster spot and Taua is a practice squad candidate.
As for fullback, Michael Robinson is the incumbent and heavy favorite for that job, but could get pushed by Kregg Lumpkin, a back that John Schneider seems to like a lot (Seahawks put a waiver claim on him last year too but the Bucs won out in the order). Watch for Lumpkin in the short passing game - he caught 40+ passes last season as an outlet receiver for Josh Freeman, and in the Seahawks mock game last weekend he caught two passes for 22 yards. Along with his lower price tag, his abilities in that area the one main thing he brings as a possible advantage over Robinson.
Preliminary depth chart for the running backs group. I'm just going to go ahead and call Lumpkin a fullback but that's partly speculative. However, from what I've seen, that's a big part of how he's been used in camp.
On to the tight ends. This group will be really fun to watch in the preseason and there are a few interesting storylines therein. First of all, the assumption would be that the Seahawks would keep three tight ends in their final-53, as they've done mostly over the past five seasons. However, with the offense they've installed and the way the league is trending with the heavy use of tight ends, it's entirely possible that the Hawks will want to keep four tight ends, that roster spot at the expense of a receiver, most likely.
Zach Miller and Kellen Winslow are pretty much locks as the No. 1 and No. 2 tight ends, though they play two totally different positions (Miller an in-line tight end and Winslow a joker, move tight end). Past that, I personally believe that the Seahawks will keep Anthony McCoy as Miller's primary backup (he's the only other TE in the group with the talent/size to block in-line) and then it will be up to Cameron Morrah, Sean McGrath, and Cooper Helfet to fight for that fourth, non-guaranteed tight end spot. Of course, I could be wrong about McCoy but the eye test from his first several days at camp, where he looked very strong catching the football (prior to tweaking his hamstring) and with the way Pete Carroll has talked about him ("McCoy up to 270 pounds, lean and quick"), the evidence would seem to support my opinion.
That said, both Morrah and McGrath have looked very good in camp and could really push each other for the roster. McGrath also has the advantage in that he's a long-snapper, and if the Seahawks want to save one of those extremely valuable roster spots, they could keep McGrath as a two-position player. This seems kind of far-fetched, but it's something to watch nonetheless. Cooper Helfet seems like a practice squad type of guy.
Up next, offensive line and the controversial wide receiver position...