QUARTERBACKS: Starter — Matt Hasselbeck.
Backups — Charlie Whitehurst, J.P. Losman.
The Seahawks brought in Whitehurst to create some competition at quarterback, and Hasselbeck responded by having one of his best offseasons ever, clearly asserting himself as the No. 1 guy. Part of that has to do with Hasselbeck’s familiarity with the West Coast offense, giving him a leg up on Whitehurst and Losman. There appears to be more of a competition between Whitehurst and Losman for the No. 2 spot, as Losman has looked solid and played with a lot of confidence so far — something to keep an eye on during training camp. The Seahawks could pick up another arm to help them get through camp.
RUNNING BACKS: Starters — Julius Jones, FB Owen Schmitt.
Backups — Justin Forsett, Leon Washington, Quinton Ganther, Louis Rankin, FB Ryan Powdrell.
The starting job will likely be a two-man race between Jones and Forsett. However, Washington could work into the conversation if he comes back healthy from a broken leg. Washington looked pretty good during drills in minicamp and says he will be ready once training camp begins. Seattle still appears to need a short-yardage back, so it will be interesting to see if they make a move. Ganther has been impressive so far, and has added versatility with the ability to play fullback. However, a recent DUI arrest could put him on the chopping block.
TIGHT ENDS: Starter — John Carlson.
Backups — Chris Baker, Anthony McCoy, Cameron Morrah, Jameson Konz.
The addition of Baker allows Carlson to get more involved in the passing game. McCoy could have an impact this season, showing soft hands and moving well in the middle of the field during offseason workouts. But Morrah also has flashed at times, showing why the Seahawks took a late-round flyer on him last season. Konz hasn’t got many team reps at practice and is still learning his way in a new position.
WIDE RECEIVERS: Starters — T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Deion Branch.
Backups — Mike Williams, Golden Tate, Deon Butler, Ben Obomanu, Sean Morey, Ruvell Martin, Mike Hass, Isaiah Stanback, Marcus Maxwell, Kole Heckendorf.
Houshmandzadeh and Branch provide experience, but both are returning from offseason surgery, so there is some uncertainty how they will respond. Williams has the potential to be the down-the-field threat on the outside the Seahawks have been lacking. Seattle only kept five receivers last season, but they may keep six here this year because of the depth at this position.
OFFENSIVE LINEMEN: Starters — LT Russell Okung, LG Ben Hamilton, C Chris Spencer, RG Max Unger, RT Sean Locklear.
Backups — C/G Steve Vallos, G Mansfield Wrotto, G Mike Gibson, T Joe Toledo, G Mitch Erickson, C Adrian Martinez, C Jeff Byers, T Jacob Phillips.
Offensive line coach Alex Gibbs seems to have improved the overall depth of this group from a year ago. Hamilton provides Seattle with a teacher on the field familiar with Gibbs’ zone blocking scheme. Okung has big shoes to fill with Pro Bowler Walter Jones recently retiring. Even though the rookie will have his struggles, he’s a significant upgrade from what Seattle had at the position last season.
DEFENSIVE LINEMEN: Starters — LDE Red Bryant, RDE Chris Clemons, NT Colin Cole, DT Brandon Mebane.
Backups — T Kevin Vickerson, E Lawrence Jackson, E E.J. Wilson, T Craig Terrill, E Nick Reed, E Ricky Foley, Dexter Davis, E Robert Henderson, E Rob Rose, Jonathan Lewis.
Seattle still needs an effective, edge rusher to help create consistent pressure on the quarterback. They will try to achieve that goal through scheme and bringing speedy guys off the edge like Clemons, Reed and Foley. Mebane and Cole played well against the run last season, but the team has high expectations for Mebane and expects more than the 1.5 sacks he generated in 2009. The competition to watch is for strong-side defensive end between Bryant and Jackson. Bryant, who moved from defensive tackle to defensive end, was one of the pleasant surprises of camp.
LINEBACKERS: Starters — WLB David Hawthorne, MLB Lofa Tatupu, SLB, Aaron Curry.
Backups — Leroy Hill, Will Herring, Anthony Heygood, Matt McCoy, Joe Pawelek.
This unit remains the strength of Seattle’s defense, but underperformed in 2009. Hill needs to put his legal issues behind him in order to earn his starting job back. Seattle could move Curry to defensive end at times in order to get Hill and Hawthorne on the field at the same time. The strength of this group is versatility — most of these backers can play all three positions.
DEFENSIVE BACKS: Starters — LCB Marcus Trufant, RCB Kelly Jennings, FS Earl Thomas, SS Lawyer Milloy.
Backups — CB Josh Wilson, CB Walter Thurmond, CB Roy Lewis, CB Chris Richards, CB Kennard Cox, CB Marcus Brown, CB Marcus Udell, CB Josh Pinkard, CB Cord Parks, S Jordan Babineaux, S Kam Chancellor, S Kevin Ellison, S Jamar Adams, S James Brindley.
Jennings looked impressive during offseason workouts and has elevated to the first unit over Wilson. Jennings always has been a strong cover corner, but his ball skills have continued to improve. Thurmond (knee) looks on pace to be ready for training camp. Milloy and Babineaux should battle it out for the strong safety spot until the final cuts. The loser could be on a different roster at the start of the regular season, as Seattle looks to get younger on the back end of the defense.
SPECIAL TEAMS: P Jon Ryan, K Olindo Mare, LS Matt Overton.
Ryan and Mare were the most consistent players for Seattle last season, so the team is not carrying any extra players on the roster at present to push them. New long-snapper Overton will have some pressure to look sharp during the preseason play.