"Show me somethin' Red."
Field Gulls Podcast assumes its regular time tomorrow, Saturday 1pm PDT.
What I'll be watching for tonight after the bump.
Jason Babin (#52) on special teams.
Babin turned 28 in late May. He's on the down slope of his prime. On the one hand, getting the prime years of a moderately talented defensive end without committing to an onerous contract is ideal. Every team in the NFL would love that kind of depth. On the other hand, if the team retains 11 defensive linemen, who's going to play special teams? Maybe Babin. He combined with Kevin Hobbs for a special teams tackle against the Vikings and his slender, linebacker-like body allows him to get downfield. Babin's ability to play special teams might allow Seattle the luxury of depth. Otherwise, keeping a third string defensive end instead of a proven gunner like C.J. Wallace could haunt Seattle all season.
What becomes of CJ Wallace?
Hobbs is practice squad eligible, but after a fine preseason, it would be risky to put him there. If the team retains Hobbs, it will be committing seven slots, minimum, to defensive backs and five of them, nominally, would be cornerbacks. Putting Jamar Adams on the practice squad would be similarly risky and C.J. Wallace isn't even eligible. It's conceivable Seattle keeps nine defensive backs, but nine DBs, 11 DL and five (exposing David Hawthorne on the practice squad) linebackers commits 25 players to defense. Subtract three specialist and the injured offense is left with only 25 slots. It's tough to argue for cutting Wallace, who is Seattle's best special team tackler - though not so good at blocking - but it's harder still to expose better talent on the practice squad. Wallace could be literally playing for his job tonight, and how he does could make things easy or interesting tomorrow.
Can Chris Spencer make line calls?
Steve Vallos doesn't have a fraction of Spencer's strength or athleticism, but Seattle's pass blocking has looked strong throughout the preseason. Watch for free blitzers on Spencer's snaps, missed assignments could be an indication that Vallos' time on the second string will be brief.
Will Logan Payne make the practice squad?
Payne is well behind Burleson, Kent and Taylor regarding the roster. Throw in Bobby Engram, and Payne's best bet is 5th on the depth chart. He's likely behind Obomanu too, who hasn't played well in the preseason, but has it all over Payne in experience, special teams ability and potential. Even on the practice squad, Payne is likely behind Michael Bumpus. Bumpus has been healthier and has outperformed Payne in the preseason. So, does the Logan Payne saga start with comedy and end in tragedy? Sudden free agency would certainly be a reversal after an offseason's worth of hype, but one must wonder if Payne, a polished player who won't gain any new tools between this season and next, has a future with Seattle or even in the NFL.
Bryant was as rough as coal when he was injured and is just now returning. The team badly needs Bryant to pair with Craig Terrill to make a legitimate, even potentially excellent, second string tackle rotation. The more he can do tonight to make Howard Green expendable, the better I'll feel about Seattle's rush defense. As is, the team is a Brandon Mebane or Rocky Bernard injury from revisiting 2006.
Just play kid. We're all rootin' for ya.