If you haven't noticed, we're getting all the of summer camp position battles with no drama whatsoever out of the way first.
Today we look at the Seahawks' running back situation. Am I glad they don't pay me by the word over here, because otherwise I'd have to make stuff up. Both starting spots and the primary backup position are done deals, prohibiting freak injuries in training camp.
The only additional measure that needs to be taken regarding one Shaun Alexander is whatever pre-emptive remedies may be employed to alleviate the Madden Curse. I don't think witch doctors or voodoo stunts will jibe with Shaun's religious beliefs, and they're also costly, tawdry, and unnecessarily theatrical. Seattle is not a tropical town. We're very low-key with the spiritualism. Just give us our machiattos and our I Ching runes; we'll just be in the corner booth amusing ourselves if you need us.
Maurice Morris had a decent season as Alexander's backup last year. He may have preserved his grasp on the position in the NFC Divisional playoff against the Redskins when Shaun went down -- although Morris wasn't spectacular, he ably stopped the gap. (Well, maybe 49 yards for a backup runner is spectacular. I take that back.) Mo also has big yardage, sudden-break abilities, given the opportunity. Should our attempts to exorcise the Madden Curse fail, we'll approach Morris with reserved confidence.
Mack Strong, a first-time Pro Bowler last year, is also the shoo-in for fullback. But with Strong turning 35 a couple days after the season launches, this year may provide the impetus for future positional dilemmas, as it has to be assumed Strong's career is winding down. There's absolutely no physical evidence of this from Strong's end, but you just have to assume.
The imposing Leonard Weaver was Strong's backup in his first season, but outside of a few exhibition games -- and I count last year's regular season howl-fest against the Texans as an exhibition game -- he saw little action. The Seahawks were pleased with his blocking in the pre-season last year, and conventional wisdom has him enjoying another year under Mack's tutilege.
But there's a real intriguing option besides Weaver. Fullback David Kirtman spent last year at USC, blocking for a guy you might have heard of named Reggie Bush.
Kirtman was taken in the 4th round this year by the Seahawks, which was a little high for some prognosticators. He made a lot of lemonade in his last college season, providing the lead for the eventual Heisman winner. He came into bloom as a great trench blocker, despite his size, and by all accounts has some surprising analytical skills for a rookie. His running game is not considered terribly strong, but you don't get much of a chance to run if your halfback is Reggie Bush. Kirtman's primary contributions to yard gains were as a backfield receiver who rarely made errors in his routes or pass catching.
So it's worth watching Weaver and Kirtman this summer if you wish to entertain the possibilites for the fullback position of the 2007 Seahawks. But with the way Mack Strong has persevered, we could be talking 2008. Strong might very well play another two or three years. I don't see Mack doing Wednesday Night Bingo anytime in the foreseeable future.
Josh Scobey and Marquis Weeks are special teams players listed as running backs. We'll talk about them in the Special Teams Preview: "Lust for Stick 'Um."
Ran Carthon and Jimmy Dixon are also on the training camp roster. They will enjoy reserved parking privileges in Kirkland this summer.
That was easy, wasn't it? The Seahawks' running back situation is one of those examples where inevitability breeds comfort. I fill with relaxation. I think of the backfield, and I feel like I'm in one of those Corona Beer commercials. Toss my Nokia in the surf and tell Jimmy Buffett to bring me another one. With the salt. Ahhhh.
I'm talkin' relaxed, baby. I recant my earlier statement: We are a tropical town. In a very thick disguise.