The Seattle Seahawks have not had a great offseason for their defensive line, but got some good news on Tuesday from their biggest signing of the year. Head coach Pete Carroll said that he sees defensive end Ezekiel Ansah as “on track” to start Week 1 against the Cincinnati Bengals after the former Detroit Lions pass rusher returned to practice after missing time with a groin injury.
The expected LEO in 2019, Ansah played in seven games and made two starts for the Lions last season. If he’s able to go, it alleviates the stress of already being without Jarran Reed (six-game suspension) and L.J. Collier (ankle) against the Bengals. It would also save the team from having to start both Cassius Marsh and Rasheem Green, Branden Jackson, or Quentin Jefferson to open the season. Instead it could be Ansah and Marsh bookending Poona Ford and Earl Mitchell or Al Woods.
That presence allows a player like Green to hopefully still work on his weaknesses without the pressure of playing in downs that aren’t suited for him yet. Last season, the team was forced to start Shaquem Griffin at outside linebacker in a Week 1 loss to the Denver Broncos when K.J. Wright was hurt during training camp.
Unfortunately, or perhaps not that unfortunately, a starting player on the other side of the trenches may not be ready in time for Cincinnati.
Carroll couldn’t say with confidence that guard Mike Iupati would be back from a calf injury by Week 1, so third-year player Ethan Pocic is in line to start against the Bengals. That news sounds less bad now that Pocic has had a very impressive preseason and he could actually be one of the saviors of the 2017 Seahawks draft class. If this trajectory continues. In which case when Iupati returns, if Pocic is playing well, it gives Seattle much more confidence should (or when) another offensive lineman gets hurt or is the bad Germain Ifedi.
Carroll said Mike Iupati not ready to come back yet. So it sounds as if Ethan Pocic will be the starter at left guard come week one.— Bob Condotta (@bcondotta) August 27, 2019
This news caps off a mildly interesting day of Seattle news, as the team parted ways with receiver Amara Darboh again, then placed Naz Jones and Kalan Reed on injured reserve. This helps solves a few more position battles and 53-man roster thoughts, since Reed no longer accounts into the nickel cornerback job, while Naz isn’t going to be doing the team any favors on the inside or the edge this year.
That’s good news for players like Akeem King and Jackson, but still neither are safe. Another player getting good news today was David Moore, who is expected to be on the 53-man roster and not injured reserve, like was initially feared from a broken arm. Carroll expects Moore to be working to get back by next week — not meaning that he will play against the Bengals, but that he might not be out for much longer after that.
Shaquem Griffin and Marquise Blair are expected to play Thursday against the Oakland Raiders, while Joey Hunt is out awhile with a high ankle sprain. With Pocic as a starter at left guard, that gives Marcus Martin a high probability to make the roster as the backup to Justin Britt.
Should Ansah actually be ready for Week 1 and remain healthy all season long, then the Seahawks may have just replaced Frank Clark with a $9 million (at most) lottery ticket. It probably doesn’t give them a great defensive line to open the year, but it is a line that has an interesting bit of potential for October, when Reed will return and Ford will be in the middle of his first season as a starter. And perhaps as a bonus, we’ll find that Pocic is good too.