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A 53-man roster projection at the halfway point of preseason

NFL: Seattle Seahawks at Los Angeles Chargers Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

With two preseason games officially in the book for the Seattle Seahawks, it’s time for a third 53-man roster projection. Like the second iteration, this projection will be based largely off what we’ve learned since training camp began.

Here is how the 90-man roster sits at the time of publishing:

Note: The number in brackets, both in the above roster and listed below, is the average kept on the 53-man roster at that position throughout the Pete Carroll-John Schneider era.

QB (2): Russell Wilson, Alex McGough

Previous: Wilson, McGough

More likely than not, the Seahawks backup quarterback isn’t currently on the roster. However, Seattle is yet to make a move despite reports suggesting interest in doing so, and so it remains between Austin Davis and McGough here.

McGough performed much better in his second preseason game, checking down consistently rather than getting into trouble in the pocket, and delivering two excellent throws to put points on the board.

There’s a chance McGough is a practice squad candidate, but if it comes down to Davis versus McGough, the Seahawks choose upside.

RB (5): Chris Carson, Rashaad Penny, C.J. Prosise, J.D. McKissic, Tre Madden

Previous: Carson, Penny, Prosise, McKissic, Madden

Penny’s finger injury isn’t a risk to his Week 1 status, so the top two backs remain unchanged. Behind Penny and Carson, Prosise and McKissic stick as well. It was discouraging to see Mike Davis in the two-minute drill to end the first half on Saturday, but Prosise has to remain the favorite in that spot, as long as he remains healthy.

As the last remaining fullback on Seattle’s roster, the only real threat to Madden’s roster spot is second year tight end Tyrone Swoopes sticking as a fourth tight end and hybrid fullback. After putting several strong blocks on tape against the Indianapolis Colts, Swoopes had a tough game as a blocker versus the L.A. Chargers. Meanwhile, Madden continues to feature heavily on special teams and his roster spot remains secure.

WR (6): Doug Baldwin, Tyler Lockett, Jaron Brown, Brandon Marshall, David Moore

Previous: Baldwin, Lockett, Brown, Marshall, Moore, Marcus Johnson

The top three — Baldwin, Lockett, Brown — are locked in, while Marshall appears to be, despite Carroll remaining non-committal regarding his status on the 53-man roster.

David Moore has carried his strong camp into the preseason, again displaying his contested catch ability that’s unmatched on the Seahawks’ roster against the Chargers. Moore’s game in L.A. had two other positive signs: He played just 11 snaps on offense, signaling the coaching staff knows what they have in the sophomore, and he was on punt coverage into the fourth quarter.

The lack of a clear-cut sixth wide receiver leaves the door open for Amara Darboh to stick around for a second year, despite being banged up for a good portion of camp. The other name to monitor would be Damore’ea Stringfellow. Stringfellow put together a strong performance in the preseason opener, although he followed it up with just one catch for five yards against the Chargers. On Wednesday, Carroll spoke positively about Stringfellow:

“He’s done a lot of good things. He’s got a real natural way of getting open and playing the football. He has a big catching range, he’s physical. Everything makes sense to him, he picks things up easily. He’s right in the middle of the competition. We’re really fired up about him. He was a total surprise, we didn’t know much about him. We weren’t sure what we were getting and he’s right in the middle of it all.”

TE (3): Ed Dickson, Nick Vannett, Will Dissly

Previous: Dickson, Vannett, Dissly

Although the three names at tight end have remained the same, there’s been a change in each player’s status. Dickson has been on the NFI list since camp opened, and when Carroll gave his last update on Dickson last Sunday, he said the tight end wasn’t close to returning to practice. With just under two weeks to go until roster cutdowns, Dickson remains on the 53-man projection, however, opening the season off the active roster is a very real possibility.

Fortunately, in Dickson’s absence, both Vannett and Dissly have started the preseason strongly. Vannett is back to full health, after being slowed by a back injury for two years. Vannett’s performance against the Colts in the first week of preseason drew praise from Brian Schottenheimer:

“He had the big third down conversion which put us in a situation for 4th-and-1. He had a really good block on the 4th-and-1. Of course the scramble play he made was terrific, the guy kind of had him boxed out and he came back up underneath him, so I think Nick is playing with a lot of confidence right now.”

Similar to Vannett, Dissly’s first game of the preseason was stronger than the second, but it has still been an encouraging start for the rookie. At worst, Seattle knows they’ll have a reliable blocker in Dissly as early as Week 1.

T (5): Duane Brown, Germain Ifedi, George Fant, Isaiah Battle

Previous: Brown, Ifedi, Fant, Jamarco Jones, Battle

While Brown and Ifedi remain as expected starters on either side of the line, the Seahawks have taken a hit to their depth since the preseason began. Jones suffered a serious ankle sprain against Indianapolis and seems likely to end up on the injured reserve.

Battle, also injured against the Colts, should return to practice this week. After a poor performance by Willie Beavers against L.A., Battle’s backup job remains safe. Both tackle spots appear settled as long as Fant remains on the left side in his return from a torn ACL.

iOL (5): Ethan Pocic, Justin Britt, D.J. Fluker, Rees Odhiambo, Jordan Roos

Previous: Pocic, Britt, Fluker, Odhiambo, Roos

The interior of the offensive line remains unchanged since the beginning of preseason. Pocic and Britt are without legitimate competition at their respective positions, while Fluker’s only threat — J.R. Sweezy — has yet to return to practice since spraining his ankle in his first day back. Fluker was praised by Carroll last week:

“I think he’s doing a beautiful job. He’s a different style player than we’ve had, as big as he is and as stout as he is. The fact he knows our system really well, he’s a vocal leader, he’s done a lot of really good stuff, and we’re really fired up that he now seems to be in shape, and he’s taking everyday’s work and dealing with it just fine.”

Roos and Odhiambo have received a large number of snaps inside throughout preseason, and appear to be locked in as the backup left and right guards — if Sweezy gets healthy soon, he could certainly make a push. Although this group lacks a backup for Britt — Joey Hunt is his backup in camp — Pocic is a more-than-fine stand in, should Britt miss time.

Total offense: 24

DT (4): Jarran Reed, Tom Johnson, Nazair Jones, Poona Ford, Shamar Stephen

Previous: Reed, Johnson, Jones, Ford, Stephen

Seattle’s defensive tackle group remains as settled as any position on the roster. Stephen and Reed will start alongside one another in base defense, as has been the plan since they signed Stephen. Ford and Jones are the respective backups, while Johnson will be a major part of the rotation inside (as will Jones).

EDGE (5): Frank Clark, Rasheem Green, Branden Jackson, Quinton Jefferson

Previous: Clark, Green, Marcus Smith, Jackson

The biggest note at defensive end remains the name missing: Dion Jordan. Jordan’s status hasn’t improved, and all signs point to him starting the season on the PUP list. Green has emerged in the preseason as an immediate contributor, which should aid some of the concerns stemming from Jordan’s absence.

Marcus Smith’s surprise release came on the back of him missing several days of practice for family reasons. Smith was a part of the team’s plans prior to this move, and McKissic later posted on Instagram that Smith had retired, something that remains unconfirmed.

Jackson has seen a large number of starting reps in camp with Jordan out, and was signaled out by Carroll for his play and flexibility:

“Branden’s been really consistent, he’s been tough, he’s been versatile when he can play some different spots. He’s got a really good motor, he plays really hard. He’s a lot stronger than he was a year ago, more fit. He’s right in the rotation, he’s playing with a force and I like the fact that we have some flexibility with him too.”

Nobody has done a better job of winning a roster spot through two preseason games than Jefferson. He was one of the best players on the field against Indianapolis, and followed it up by practicing with the first team defense. Jefferson and Jackson both provide the Seahawks with outside-in players at defensive end.

LB (6): Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright, Shaquem Griffin, Barkevious Mingo, Jacob Martin, Austin Calitro

Previous: Wagner, Wright, Griffin, Mingo, Martin

Five of the six remain the same, with Wagner, Wright and Mingo the expected starters, Griffin as Wright’s backup and Martin as Mingo’s.

Despite being a bright spot against the Colts and seeming to establish himself as the backup SAM linebacker, Martin’s roster spot may not be secure yet. His primary competition, UDFA Jake Pugh, saw the field considerably more than Martin against the Chargers, and played much better than he did in the first week of preseason. Behind those two, recent addition Erik Walden is expected to start in the same role and could offer a different direction if Seattle attempts to stash Martin on the practice squad.

The new addition to the 53-man roster, Austin Calitro, has been tremendous through two weeks. On both defense and special teams, Calitro has consistently found the football and has made a ton of plays. Calitro offers the team a natural backup for Wagner, and as of now, he has to be viewed ahead of D.J. Alexander in the team’s plans. Like Moore, Calitro getting punt coverage snaps into the fourth quarter on Saturday is a good sign for his roster push.

CB (5): Shaquill Griffin, Byron Maxwell, Justin Coleman, Tre Flowers, Neiko Thorpe, Dontae Johnson

Previous: Griffin, Maxwell, Coleman, Flowers, Thorpe, Trovon Reed

In a crowded position group, three of six spots are locked in. Griffin will start the season at left cornerback, Coleman in the slot, while Flowers won’t be risked on the practice squad. Provided Thorpe can get healthy in time, he should be a lock as well. Assuming Flowers isn’t rushed into the lineup for Week 1, the right cornerback spot will come down to Maxwell and Dontae Johnson — for now, Maxwell keeps hold of his spot, but the Seahawks keep a sixth corner in Johnson.

Reed drops off the 53, as he has been hurt throughout August and has missed both preseason games. Akeem King got off to a great start against Indianapolis, but was victimized for a touchdown against Los Angeles. Although King continues to feature heavily on defense and special teams, Johnson got into the game before him and it appears an order is established among the cornerbacks on the bubble.

S (4): Tedric Thompson, Bradley McDougald, Delano Hill, Maurice Alexander, Mike Tyson

Previous: Thompson, McDougald, Hill, Alexander

The only concern in this safety group is the lack of a natural backup for Thompson at free safety. Against the Chargers, Hill saw a large number of snaps as the single-high defender until Lorenzo Jerome entered the game. In the event Thompson is unavailable, it’s likely McDougald would move to free safety and either Hill or Alexander would come in at strong. With Hill also capable of filling in at free safety if needed, they should be comfortable with this group. Tyson provides special teams value and the ability to play in the slot, as well.

Total defense: 26

Specialists (3): Sebastian Janikowski, Michael Dickson, Tyler Ott

Previous: Janikowski, Dickson, Ott

Janikowski is guaranteed money in 2018, while Jason Myers is not. Dickson is considerably more talented and cheaper than Jon Ryan, and has begun holding for Janikowski on field goals and extra points. Both competitions are settled, if not officially.

Update: Ryan has been released, so punter spot is settled.

The Seahawks have two preseason games remaining before they have to cut their roster from 90 players to 53 by 1 PM PST on September 1.