Aug 8, 2012; Renton, WA, USA; NFL: Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Terrell Owens (10) participates in a training camp scrimmage at the Virginia Mason Athletic Center. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-US PRESSWIRE
The offensive line group will be an interesting one to watch this preseason and I get the impression that the overall talent is greatly improved over last season (and exponentially better than the unit John Schneider and Pete Carroll inherited in 2010). The exact depth charts have yet to shake out and the current 'starting' unit may shuffle a bit over the next few weeks, even if they do manage to avoid any injuries. Right now, the presumptive starting five for Week 1 are LT Russell Okung, LG Paul McQuistan, C Max Unger, RG John Moffitt, and RT Breno Giacomini. However, Tom Cable and company have made sure to rotate certain guys up to play with the 'ones' during mini-camps, OTAs and now training camp in an effort to see who fits and how varying units work together.
Rookie G Rishaw Johnson has seen time with the first unit, and this past week, fellow rookie J.R. Sweezy has been slotted for several practices at RG with the starters, as John Moffitt gets reps at center with the 'twos.' There's probably not a whole lot to be read into this shuffling -- Tom Cable has mentioned on several occasions that he wants all of his linemen to be well-versed at at least two positions, because the fact of the matter is that injuries will happen throughout the year.
Still, it will be interesting to see what happens this year on the line - Moffitt is coming off of an MCL tear after a mediocre-to-decent rookie performance. Is he assured a starting spot? Doubtful - though he appears to be the favorite at the moment. If one of the rookies, Johnson or Sweezy, steps up, that spot could be up for grabs. If Deuce Lutui looks good over the next few weeks, he could see time at his familiar right guard position. Same goes for the left side, where journeyman Paul McQuistan held things down last year in relief of Robert Gallery. Does he have a grapple hold on that position? I doubt that too, and I would guess the lead margin between McQuistan and possibly Lemuel Jeanpierre, Lutui, Alan Barbre and Paul Fanaika isn't very wide. This is a good thing.
The depth chart...
Russell Okung (T)
Paul McQuistan (T/G)
Max Unger (C)
John Moffitt (G/C)
Breno Giacomini (T)
Deuce Lutui (G)
Rishaw Johnson (G)
Frank Omiyale (T/G)
J.R. Sweezy (G)
Edawn Coughman (T/G)
James Carpenter (G)
Lemuel Jeanpierre (C/G)
Allen Barbre (T/G)
Paul Fanaika (T/G)
Alex Barron (T)
The only order you'll see above are the first five as presumptive starters. After that - your guess is as good as mine. From camp reports, Frank Omiyale has looked pretty good and could earn a roster spot as a swing tackle/backup to Breno and Okung. Paul Fanaika shows promise as a G/T, and Alex Barron has all the measureables you'd want at the tackle position. It will be interesting.
On to wide receiver. This is the group that I don't even want to talk about right now because it will be so important to see how things shake out in preseason games. Braylon Edwards and Terrell Owens are the talk of the town and with good right - both have shown elite talent at differing points in their careers and in training camp have flashed their potential as the next great reclamation project(s). That said, their ability to stick with this team is still a big unknown.
Golden Tate is having a really good camp after finishing the year very impressively last season. Kris Durham started slow in camp but has come on strong, from several reports, the last couple of days - making big catches and looking the part. Ben Obomanu is still in the equation, as is Deon Butler. I think that Phil Bates has a real shot to surprise as well. Ricardo Lockette is a possibility. Charly Martin and Jermaine Kearse are still hanging around and you keep hearing the name Lavasier Tuinei in reference to big plays on each day.
In reality though, I think it comes down to this, and I'm sure you'll disagree vehemently with me - Sidney Rice, fully healthy or not, is a lock. Doug Baldwin is a lock. Golden Tate is, in my mind, a lock. This is the group with whom I think the Seahawks will start the season - with Rice at Z, Doug in the slot, and Golden as their X. Past that, it's a matter of quality depth and varying looks in the redzone. Kris Durham will have to prove his worth to beat out Edwards and Owens, and right now it's not really looking that good for him, though it pains me to write that. Lockette started camp out strong but from everything I hear over the last week, he's fallen back to earth - particularly with drops. The same regression to ... competence ... could be said about Ben Obomanu and Deon Butler. Phil Bates has been steady and consistent, and as I said above, might be the darkhorse to slingshot himself in front of some guys. He's looked that good in camp, though admittedly it's pretty tough to predict much from camp performances a lot of the time.
Overall though - this nebulous group of Edwards, Owens, Lockette, Obomanu, Butler, Durham and Bates will be interesting to watch. There's always the outside shot that Edwards or Owens could return to elite form and not only make the team but start for the Seahawks, but right now I'm viewing their additions closer to extended tryouts for depth spots on the roster. At worst, they're good competition for Seattle's young group of receivers and a new, big and physical matchup for their cornerbacks and safeties. At best, - well - we can always dream I guess.
Hit me with your thoughts.