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A 53-man roster projection ahead of Seahawks-Colts

NFL: Seattle Seahawks-Minicamp Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

The first 53-man roster projection came on the eve of training camp, just over two weeks ago. A lot has changed with the Seattle Seahawks since then; players have come and gone, fallen victim to the injury bug, or returned from an offseason injury.

Knowing what we know now and with the first preseason game just hours away, it’s time to take another run at a 53-man roster projection while comparing it to the first projection. Here’s how the roster looks as of publishing:

Note: The number in brackets 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

Nothing has changed at the quarterback position for the Seahawks. The continued inclusion of McGough may come as a surprise, especially after Pete Carroll’s comments last Friday:

“I think it’s been really hard for Alex (McGough) to get going. He’s been struggling, it’s been hard for him. We’re a very high tech offense, there’s a lot going on, and he hasn’t been able to get back to where he was in the offseason. We’re giving him a lot of work and it’s going to come. We’ve seen a lot of good stuff from him, but right now it’s hard on him.”

However, call it a hunch or call it wishful thinking, both fans and the coaching staff are about to see the best of McGough. His style of play screams ‘gamer,’ and he’s going to win or lose his spot on Seattle’s roster over the next few weeks.

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

Previous: Carson, Penny, Prosise, McKissic, Khalid Hill

The Seahawks were thrown a curveball in the fullback competition last week, when both Hill and Jalston Fowler went down with injuries. Hill was eventually waived with an injury designation, while Fowler’s chances at the 53-man roster were always low due to his lack of special teams contributions. There’s a chance Seattle rolls with a hybrid FB/TE over a pure fullback.

Carroll heaped praise upon the four tailbacks last Tuesday, saying, “C.J.’s never been in this kind of shape. We’ve never seen Chris in better shape. We’re learning about Rashaad right now. McKissic is ridiculously fit and he plays so hard every single day. It’s a very, very good group.”

None of the four favorites to stick in a crowded backfield have done anything to lose a roster spot, yet.

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

Previous: Baldwin, Brown, Lockett, Amara Darboh, Johnson

The biggest change at receiver has come from Marshall getting healthy and impressing out of the gate. Upon returning to practice, Carroll sounded extremely enthusiastic about Marshall, without speaking about his roster spot with any sort of certainty:

“He is a really gifted player. He’s got great experience, he’s a very savvy player. When you’re as big as he is, he’s a factor. That’s the same factor that you get with a big receiver, he’s got all that. He’s physical, he’s long, his instincts are terrific. He’s well traveled, but he’s benefited from those experiences. He’s got a wealth of background. So he’s a guy, when we get him right, and healthy, and out there, he becomes a factor for us because we know he can do some really special stuff. He and Russ have worked quite a bit together already, some in the summer as well, and already developing a mentality, attitude, chemistry that you need. It’s an exciting potential addition.”

Assuming Marshall can remain healthy throughout August, he should only improve his chances at a roster spot. Elsewhere in the group, Johnson has impressed mightily, drawing high praise from Wilson:

“He’s a special player. He’s worked hard, stayed late, gets here super early, he’s dedicated. We talked all offseason. He makes a lot of plays. Marcus Johnson looks really good so far. He had a great day today. The first day he didn’t get many balls, just because of the way practice was, he got some. Today he showed up in a big, big way, made some crucial plays down the field. He’s so fast, so aggressive to the football. Championship player, too.”

The Darboh-Moore roster battle took a turn when Moore went down with a hip flexor issue, but even still, Moore has consistently flashed higher upside. As strange as it would be for Darboh not to get a second season, Moore’s ceiling is too enticing. Brian Schottenheimer sounded excited about Moore in his first press conference of camp, saying:

“You see the quarterbacks trusting him. When he’s one-on-one, they’re taking the shot and he’s making those plays, which in their mind even more, subconsciously they think ‘Wow, this is a guy I can go to when he’s one-on-one.’”

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

Previous: Dickson, Dissly, Vannett

Although Dickson is yet to practice in training camp, the veteran remains a roster lock. Dissly, another roster lock, has been solid throughout camp. Beyond the two penciled in starters, Clayton Wilson remains sidelined, and the bottom of the depth chart has seen a constant churn. As a result, Vannett is yet to be pushed by anyone else in the group and should make it to year three with the Seahawks.

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

Previous: Brown, Fant, Ifedi, Jones

Although nothing has changed with the tackles as far as who sticks, we have learned new information since training camp began. Fant, initially expected to compete at right tackle, is sticking on the left for the time being, Carroll explained on the first day of camp:

“The potential is there, but he has no background playing over there, other then a little bit of work we did in the offseason to prepare for that. Right now we think it’s best for him to sit at the left tackle spot where he knows what he’s doing and get him back in action and go from there.”

Ifedi’s leash has gotten shorter since camp began, having been pulled for penalties twice in the last four practices, but his roster spot is safe barring something stunning. Battle is a new addition from the previous projection; with Fant and Jones both natural left-sided tackles, the team will likely elect to keep a natural right tackle beyond Ifedi.

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

Previous: Pocic, Britt, Fluker, Skyler Phillips, Odhiambo, Roos

UDFA Skyler Phillips is dropped from the 53-man roster since the first projection; he simply hasn’t made an impact in camp. With a good showing in preseason, he could easily jump back into the group — his versatility is valuable.

The starters remain unchanged, with Pocic, Britt and Fluker all having fine camps. The biggest change inside came with the addition of J.R. Sweezy, who returned to Seattle last Wednesday. He suffered an ankle injury on his first day of practice, so while he will provide excellent competition for Fluker at right guard, it’s too soon to say he’ll make the roster. Health will be a massive question for Sweezy over the next month, but if he can prove he can stay healthy, he would surely jump into the 53-man roster.

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

Previous: Stephen, Reed, Jones, Johnson, Ford

Nothing has changed for the Seahawks at defensive tackle through the early parts of camp. Ford and Jones provide depth behind Stephen and Reed, while Johnson will be a key part of the rotation. Carroll said on Tuesday Johnson is someone they wish they’d found “6/7 years ago. He is one of our guys.”

Unless an unexpected player flashes in preseason — Quinton Jefferson or Joey Ivie — the defensive tackle group looks relatively settled.

EDGE (5): Frank Clark, Rasheem Green, Marcus Smith, Branden Jackson

Previous: Clark, Dion Jordan, Green, Smith, Jacob Martin

The biggest change on the edge since training camp began is the status of Dion Jordan. Carroll said on Tuesday they wouldn’t even be evaluating Jordan until the end of preseason, and at this point, the safest bet is Jordan starting the season on the PUP list. In that case, the earliest they would see him is Week 8 in Detroit (the team’s bye week falls on Week 7).

Branden Jackson has been an important piece for Seattle so far in camp, with such a depleted group of edge rushers. Additionally, he’s been reducing inside in the team’s nickel packages, an extremely valuable trait for a pass rusher on the Seahawks. It would be unusual for Seattle to keep just four defensive ends, but they should get consistent EDGE snaps from their SAM linebackers this year. As for Jacob Martin, his role has become more clear since camp began.

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

Previous: Wagner, Wright, Griffin, Mingo, Jacob Pugh

Essentially the same group, however Martin’s now-defined role is the big change. Following the first day of camp, in which he was seen with the linebackers, Carroll explained his vision for the rookie in a similar role I expected Pugh — who is yet to make much of an impact in camp — to play.

“Jacob (Martin) is a really good player. In college, they played him on the edge and rushed him all the time. Which he can do. But we all thought if we worked him at the SAM linebacker spot, we might be able to use that in pressure situations and still rush him on third downs, but also make him a linebacker for us, for the competition of it all.”

D.J. Alexander — already on the outside looking in to begin camp — has missed a significant amount of time.

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

Previous: Griffin, Maxwell, Coleman, Thorpe, Flowers, DeAndre Elliott

Despite Carroll preaching competition in the secondary from the first day of camp, the three starting cornerbacks have long been established: Griffin on the left, Maxwell on the right and Coleman in the slot. Behind them, Thorpe is the team’s best special teamer and has even seen time with the starters in training camp — drawing an exciting comparison from Carroll on the first day:

“Neiko is a good football player. He’s physical, he’s tough, he runs fast. He’s been one of our guys long enough, he’s really good technique wise now. He’s like what we saw Maxxy (Byron Maxwell) develop into after a couple years, and it’s a good competition. We’ll see how it goes.”

Flowers, an intriguing prospect who is converting from safety, may not see many snaps on defense this year but is firmly a part of the team’s future. On Friday, Carroll was asked about Flowers’ transition and how he’s taking to the kick-step: “He’s been really receptive. He’s been receptive mentally and also physically, his ability to make things look the way they’re supposed to look. He’s really on a good track right now.”

Any questions about Flowers potentially being stashed on the practice squad in 2018 seemed to have been answered.

The final cornerback spot has seen a switch from DeAndre Elliott to Trovon Reed. Elliott was waived on the first day of camp after not recovering well from a season-ending leg injury last season. Reed, brought back to the Seahawks for the fourth time on the second day of camp, has performed well and should be leading the competition for the final cornerback spot, assuming he can provide value on special teams.

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

Previous: Earl Thomas, Thompson, McDougald, Hill

The biggest change in the safety group is the absence of Thomas. Placed on the Did Not Report list to begin camp and in a standoff with Seattle’s front office, Thomas’s situation could go any number of ways between now and Week 1. Assuming nobody blinks ahead of the Seahawks’ game in Denver, Thomas will remain off the active roster.

Thompson has been the star of camp, continuously drawing praise from Carroll, and should be the starting free safety if the defense is in fact without Thomas to begin the regular season. He’ll be joined by McDougald, with the sophomore Hill and veteran Alexander behind them.

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

Previous: Jason Myers, Dickson, Ott

The training camp battle everyone was waiting for — Tyler Ott versus Tanner Carew — was decided early in camp as Carew was waived on the fourth day. Barring a catastrophe, Dickson will win the punter competition with ease. Finally, Janikowski beats out Myers, as only Janikowski has guaranteed money on his deal; if he can remain healthy through the preseason, the job should be his.