It's the preseason! Finally! Are you excited? I am! Ok, enough chit chat, let's get down to business.
Here what I am looking forward to watching.
- Running Backs Battle Royale: Christine Michael v Spencer Ware v Derrick Coleman
Marshawn Lynch will probably get anywhere from zero to five carries, probably more like zero. Russell Wilson will probably get like one series, maybe zero. That means the passing game is going to be pretty boring, probably. That leaves running. I am honestly very excited to see how Christine Michael and Spencer Ware have picked up the Seattle zone scheme - will they display patience, vision? Will they look to bounce outside too often or show they're not afraid to run up into the 'briarpatch' and pick up the tough three or four? This should be interesting. It's going to be particularly exciting to see Michael's explosiveness and speed on display for the first time in a Seahawks' uni.
Further, keep an eye on pass protection from this unit - in year one, Robert Turbin earned the coaching staff's trust in pass pro early on and benefitted with snaps because of it. If these guys can't pass protect, they're not going to see the field a whole lot.
Spencer Ware has been playing both running back and fullback, so he'll be a guy to focus in on, both in his running ability and in where they play him and what they ask him to do. He's also a great receiver at the running back position, so I expect them to get him involved with that in this game.
I'm also pretty intrigued to see Derrick Coleman carry the rock. He's been quietly having a good camp, both running, blocking, and catching the ball, so it'll be fun to see him rumble with it a little.
- Battle of the Tackles: Mike Person v Michael Bowie v Alvin Bailey
Background: Tom Cable recently listed the three attributes that he looks for, specifically, in his linemen: "Tough, smart, pretty quick. Tough, smart, quick."
I don't know if I've ever zeroed in and watched Mike Person play a snap, so I literally have no idea what kind of player he is. I'm assuming he's fairly good - (tough, smart and quick), as he's managed to stick with the team on the practice squad and active roster last year and on the 90-man club over this offseason, and apparently he's gained some weight and strength during the summer. He's a guy that can play both tackle spots and has dabbled at center, so keep an eye on his play because he very may well have to come in during the regular season in relief.
Obviously, I also haven't seen Bowie and Bailey at the professional level, so this duo of tackles will be at the top of my list to focus on as well. Having one or two quality backup tackles is one of the ultimate luxuries in this league and the future at the right tackle position is still up in the air as well, so we could be looking at developmental prospects for Breno Giacomini's job next season.
With Bailey, it'll be good to see how he responds to full-speed play on the left side after playing his entire career at Arkansas at guard. He's a smooth athlete with long arms, but is a little shorter than your average tackle in the NFL so he could have issues with speed rushers on the outside. Can he engage rushers and keep them off his body? Can he mirror, delay, or push rushers outside past the pocket? As a powerful guard at Arkansas, I'm guessing that he's probably going to be pretty decent in the run game as well, but that's another thing to watch. I'll probably spend a good deal of time focused on him.
As for Bowie, the guy has a ton of potential - he was the starting left tackle for a national championship contender before being dismissed from the team prior to his senior season. He's moved to the right side, and certainly looks the part at 6'5, 330 pounds with very long arms and big mitts. I don't know much about Bowie, so it's going to be cool to see him play.
- Wide Receiver Deathmatch: Stephen Williams v Phil Bates v Jermaine Kearse v Chris Harper v Bryan Walters
I'm a little worried that the reciever battle won't really be all that fun to watch because they're mostly going to be catching passes from Tarvaris Jackson and Brady Quinn, but regardless, it's a positional group I am very interested to watch. I've left some guys off this list but you know the names by now - in general, it seems that Williams, Bates, Kearse, Harper, and Walters are the frontrunners, with Arceto Clark and Perez Ashford the darkhorses for a rosters spot.
Obviously, watch how these guys get off press, run routes, catch the football, and run after the catch, but also pay attention to their downfield blocking and if you can, their special teams contributions, because this is what the front office will be watching as well.
- Inside Linebacker Thunderdome: John Lotulelei v Allen Bradford v Kyle Knox v Craig Wilkens
I'm specifically going to be watching Lotulelei and Bradford, and I am guessing that both will be getting a lot of snaps. The Seahawks may be running a little more man coverage this year (over zone drops), so pay attention to how they run with backs and tight ends. Note their fills and their positioning behind the line on run plays, and obviously, everyone is going to be a little rusty in tackling, but that's an important factor.
Lotu received the biggest signing bonus of any UDFA rookie in the NFL this year, so that alone tells you that the Seahawks were/are really high on him. He's an instinctual, fast, physical linebacker and just look for the guy with the long, flowing Pert Plus hair out there.
Bradford is intriguing. He was a blue chip high school star on both offense and defense, and when he settled at USC he was moved to running back. He was drafted as a running back by the Buccaneers after a big career as a Trojan and a 7.2 YPC average in 2010, but after he was released by Tampa Bay after final cuts in 2011, Pete Carroll and Ken Norton (his coaches at USC) grabbed him on the waiver wire.
After talking it over with Bradford, the three of them decided they wanted to see if he could recapture that talent on the defensive side of the ball that made him one of the most sought after defensive recruits in the nation (Bradford racked up 157 tackles, 12 sacks, and 4 forced fumbles as a high school senior LB). Carroll mentioned in a recent presser that they have been taking the slow track with Bradford - he missed a lot of last year with a broken hand I believe - but they feel that he's acclimated himself back to the position and is getting better everyday. I know that Dave Wyman is always talking about Bradford after watching him during the preseason last year, so he's a guy that could legitimately make this roster.
Ken Norton was on with Ian Furness this week and when Furness brought Bradford up, Norton kind of chuckled and said: "He's got a lot of ... stuff in him; that stuff that you want linebackers to have. They just show up with bad intentions."
- Outside Linebacker LEO throwdown: Ty Powell v O'Brien Schofield v Benson Mayowa v Mike Morgan
This one goes without saying. Watch for the way that Seattle uses these guys - hand on the ground or starting in a two-point stance? Rushing the passer, dropping into the flats? The SAM and LEOs are somewhat interchangeable, from what we've heard, so some of these guys might get time at both spots. Something to watch.
We haven't really heard much of anything about Ty Powell so it'll be interesting to see if he makes any noise. On the other hand, Mayowa and Morgan have been having good camps, according to various reports, and they could be pushing for a roster spot. Schofield just needs to stay healthy and we pretty much know we've got a contributor on our hands.
- Nickelback Knockdown Dragout: Antoine Winfield v Walter Thurmond
I wonder if Winfield will even play much, to be honest, because of his veteran status and years of prior tape. We'll see.
- Kick Return Rage: Jeremy Lane v Christine Michael
Let them return it! No touchbacks!!
What do you guys got?