No chance we’ll get these ten guys exactly when the practice squad carousel shrieks to a stop. But ... could I maybe have eight of them? Saying goodbye is the worst.
Well, no, having so little talent that the cuts are easy — that’s the worst.
1. Jake Heaps, quarterback/world traveler
Heaps doesn’t appear to have won the backup QB job away from Trevone Boykin. Tarvaris Jackson doesn’t appear to be on the way back. The Hawks don’t appear to want to ever carry three quarterbacks. So having a spare game-ready QB in the pipeline, should something happen to Boykin, seems preferable to dumpster diving in Week 11 or having to pry B.J. Daniels off whichever practice squad he’s visiting at the time.
2. Terry Poole, offensive lineman/draft pick who had slipped your mind
Poole has flashed this offseason after spending all of 2015 off the active roster. The Hawks liked him enough to draft him 130th overall a year ago, then didn’t like him well enough to put him on the 53.
What do I mean by “flashed”?
3. Troymaine Pope, running back/vessel of infallibility
Hard to envision that the league will ignore any Seattle player available, much less a RB who racked up 110 yards on just 16 attempts in the preseason, including a teeder and a game-winning two-point conversion. Pope’s turned some heads, right? But maybe he’s still under the radar, and maybe it’s not just wishful thinking shouting down common sense to see him reach the practice squad. Prosise or Collins might not be that much better than Pope, based on limited action. But their résumés and their still-shiny draft status mean they’re terrible PS candidates, while Pope at least stands a chance of sneaking through.
4. Tanner McEvoy, wide receiver/Nick Reed lookalike
The 6-foot-6 receiver was the only new injury to surface from last week’s game. Yesterday Pete Carroll called him “questionable at best” for the preseason finale. Is that part of a ploy to get him to the PS? Yes*. Might be easier to stash him if he makes the first round of cuts and then doesn’t suit up against Oakland. What team will claim a maybe-injured project if they have to put him on the 53? I mean, besides Cleveland.
/cue all the chess game comments below.
*or no. Could be no. But I like yes.
5. Kevin Smith, wide receiver/hotel alias for major celebrity
Should Kearse be cut for cap reasons next offseason, or should Richardson get hurt again, Smith’s at least familiar with the Hawks’ unusual system on offense, scramble drill and read option and mobile QBs and all that goes along with that. He blocks, too. Has anyone ever mentioned that Pete likes his receivers to block? Anyone? Bueller?
Smith didn’t look threatened in camp by Deshon Foxx, Montario Hunter, Kenny Lawler, Douglas McNeil, or even E.Z. Nwachukwu, who’s in his fourth year so he’s not as attractive as a long-term solution anyway. (Dammit Nwachukwu, and I’d just figured out how to spell your name from memory, too.)
In case Smith is poached like your grandfather’s eggs, Goodley wouldn’t work so badley as a backup plan.
6. George Fant, offensive lineman/power forward
He’s my new crush. It used to be Zac Brooks before camp began, but surrounded by even third-string opponents, Brooks looks undersized and slow. Fant, though, looks nimble, athletic and raw: the former hoops star and TE convert is made from all the components you would want in a project, if your name happens to be Tom Cable, which is true for maybe only two or three of you reading. Hey. It’s a not uncommon name.
7. DeAndre Elliott, cornerback/this year’s athletic freak
Him or Trovon Reed, or maybe another defensive back who gets cut elsewhere but was once high on Schneider’s wish list. There should be a corner on the squad, for development purposes at least. Since I have to pick one, it’s Elliott, for body reasons. He’s 6-foot-1 with look-at-me athletic skills. Elliott’s combine numbers would boggle except for how familiar the refrain is around here. Second in the vertical, second in the shuttle run, an unofficial 4.44, all coming out of football powerhouse Colorado State. Maybe he has something to prove...?
Also, DeAndre shares a first name with that Yedlin fellow, and we miss him, so that’s a reason.
8. Steve Longa, linebacker/also world traveler
I don’t have an especially strong justification for Longa, who grew up in Cameroon. With Wagner, Wright, Morgan Pierre-Louis and Coyle all likely headed for the 53 again, let’s keep someone around who could step in at WILL if necessary on a moment’s notice.
9. Eric Pinkins, linebacker/other defensive things
Pinkins has only been on the active roster for six games, all in his one single accrued season, which was 2015. As such, he is still eligible for the practice squad, and I do think Pete and John want another year to find out what he is, or maybe what he isn’t. You’d also like a guy with positional versatility here, to help simulate multiple game situations.
10. Brandin Bryant, defensive tackle/battering ram
Why Bryant? Because at the bottom of the D-line rotation, it’s a series of guys who are either going to make the team (Jefferson) or whose PS eligibility has run out (Hamilton) or who haven’t set the world on fire in their limited opportunities (Shirley). Also, Bryant’s seen some time at fullback, which can’t hurt.
Couple quick squad stats:
- Split is 4 on defense, 6 on offense. It’s imbalanced on purpose. Extra offensive linemen seem like a wise hedge this year. And maybe every year for a few years.
- I counted 2 draftees and 8 undrafted free agents. For what that’s worth.
Of course we all know that Schneider’s got his eye on a couple of the league’s extraordinary but anonymous gentlemen, with designs to turn them into the next Super Bowl MVP.