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4 Seahawks who have the most to gain when preseason kicks off on Thursday

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Seattle Seahawks v Minnesota Vikings Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

For nearly two weeks, the Seahawks’ roster battles have begun to play out. Since camp opened, Seattle’s made around a dozen roster moves, lost players to injury and seen a handful of players start to make a real roster push. However, the biggest opportunities for movement on the roster will begin Thursday, when the Seahawks open their preseason schedule against the Denver Broncos. The bottom half of the roster will do battle for the unclaimed roster spots, but here are the players with the most to gain.

Rasheem Green

The selection of L.J. Collier could have been viewed as duplicative, at the time, of another high draft pick. Collier was an unpolished 5-tech who projected as a rusher capable of reducing inside—similar to Green, when he was selected the year before. Now, Collier’s injury has opened the door for Green to push for a spot as a starter, or at the very least, the top of the rotation on passing downs. After Collier’s injury, Pete Carroll mentioned Green as a candidate at the 5-tech spot, and he’ll start his push to claim that spot on Thursday.

A relatively anonymous rookie season (rightfully) overshadowed what was a highly promising preseason from Green a year ago. The then-21-year-old looked to be much further along, technically, then it was thought when he was drafted. Granted, it came against backups and third-stringers, but it was full of promise nonetheless. An injury acted as a progress stopper, and the ‘SC product never got going in the regular season.

Green returned to practice on Tuesday, after an elbow injury, and provided he can remain healthy, the next month could see the sophomore begin a big step forward.

J.D. McKissic

Between December of 2018 and May of 2019, it began to look like McKissic was on his way out of Seattle. In his return from a foot injury that cost him the majority of last season, McKissic was seldom used, with just three touches in five games. Then came the selection of Travis Homer, a player who projects as an intriguing passing down back for the future. With the much-maligned C.J. Prosise also in the fold, the numbers were against McKissic.

Now, McKissic may be the benefactor of circumstance, rather than the victim. Homer sat out Tuesday’s practice with an undisclosed issue—he joined Prosise on the sidelines. While Homer and Prosise’s status for Thursday is unclear, McKissic, by all accounts, will be ready to go. Shaquem Griffin has praised McKissic’s wide receiver-like build and movement previously in camp, and when preseason kicks off, he’ll likely get the reps on passing downs with the first team offense.

It’s likely two of Prosise, McKissic and Homer make the 53-man roster; an opportunity has risen for McKissic to not only claim one of the two, but become a legitimate contributor in his second season under OC Brian Schottenheimer.

Ethan Pocic

In an effort to better fit into Mike Solari’s system last summer as a left guard, Pocic added 20 pounds to his frame. While the added weight may have helped his fit in a new scheme, it did not help his play. The former second round pick started the first two games of the 2018 season before making way for D.J. Fluker. He wouldn’t return to the lineup until Week 15, when injuries forced him into the lineup for two games.

With Mike Iupati signed to replace J.R. Sweezy, and Phil Haynes drafted as a long-term solution, it appeared as though Pocic would enter training camp fighting for his roster spot. That may still be the case, but injuries have gifted him a tremendous opportunity (again). Iupati remains in a boot, while Haynes—who has the ability to start as a rookie—remains on the PUP list after sports hernia surgery. Pocic has been the starter at left guard since Iupati’s injury, and is on track to start there on Thursday. Not only could Pocic stave off his release, he could again begin Week 1 as a starter, should he prove to be more able in year two under Solari.

Akeem King

Though the Seahawks are yet to release their initial depth chart ahead of the first game of preseason, King has seen a substantial amount of time with the starting defense at the nickel spot. Ugo Amadi remains at safety for the most part—while seeing some time in King’s place—which means King’s main competitor for the spot is veteran Jamar Taylor. Taylor has drawn praise during camp as well, but one has to imagine Seattle would prefer to see the younger player in King win the job.

It’s safe to assume he’ll get the first reps there on Thursday night, and he can remain there from then on as long as his play holds up. If King struggles and the door opens even a little, Taylor might just steal the job away.

Of course, these four players are by no means the only players with something to gain. There around 20 roster spots realistically up for grabs; who will start alongside Poona Ford in Week 1 remains unclear; the wide receiver group could shake out in a number of ways; and the competition to start next to Bradley McDougald is highly intriguing. It’s the start of a month long evaluation that’s fascinating—because it isn’t the game results we’re focusing on.