Seahawks roster carousel put to Giant test

Published on November 5, 2010 by     Tacoma News Tribune (Feed)

After the Seattle Seahawks arrived at reasonable health and scored an upset win at Chicago, coach Pete Carroll commented that it felt as if his team was “one week old.”

Since then, injuries have pushed his babies back to the zygote stage.

So now they might be facing their toughest opponent of the season with some guys you’ve never heard of.

Many wondered about all the shuffling that was going on at the bottom of roster, thinking at the time most of it was irrelevant. It’s getting pretty relevant now, as the Seahawks are going to be calling on some of these guys.

So, Sunday’s game at Qwest Field could offer considerable evidence on how well GM John Schneider and Carroll have vetted the fill-ins who will now be under the spotlight.

Many of them have been seeing playing time already, and have provided quality depth. That’s often different than starting and having to handle the bulk of the snaps.

The injury contagion has reached plague-and-pestilence proportions as they might take the field with only two original offensive line starters. And three of their prime run-stoppers on defense are out or dubious.

Working with the offensive front Wednesday were Chester Pitts and Mike Gibson, guys who had been cut and resigned this season, and Allen Barbre, who was picked up in late September and has been inactive since then.

In addition, they brought in a new guy as a backup center/guard named Chris White. Didn’t he used to be Chris Gray?

Oh, incidentally, the offensive line this week will be asked to block against a Giants’ defense that is third in the NFL with 24 sacks. And it also has pummeled five opposing quarterbacks out of games this season.

With stalwart end Red Bryant on IR and tackle Colin Cole out, and with tackle Brandon Mebane still in doubt, the Seahawks’ run defense has been gutted. How’s the timing on that? The Giants have the No. 4 rush offense in the league.

What to do there? Well, Kentwan Balmer and Junior Siavii will be thrust into the lineup … both having been added since the start of training camp.

Instead of cursing the injuries, Carroll likes to hail them as vast opportunities for other players. In that regard, opportunity has knocked so often lately it should have calloused knuckles.

“That’s part of the role of being a backup,” said Barbre, who was waived by Green Bay in September. “Any time you get a chance to get on the field, it’s a chance to showcase your ability. You have to prepare week in and week out to be ready to play because you just might.”

It’s so hard on the offensive line, though, where success requires a coordinated effort of five guys, and so much communication and trust.

Stacy Andrews has started the last six games at right guard after being picked up the week before the first game. But the instability on the other side affects the entire line.

“Continuity is the biggest thing,” he said. “If somebody goes down, you have to get used to the change, get the reps, study hard and get prepared.”

And the challenge of preparing for the Giants with a number of question marks on the offensive line?

“I’m going to put my head in the playbook all week and go out on Sunday and perform,” he said.

It’s up to the staff, Carroll said, to fit the game plan around the talents of the players who are thrust into the lineup. That’s a lot of work this week … on both sides of the ball.

But there also comes a point where all the planning in the world won’t help if the backups don’t have the physical skills to block or tackle the kind of talented players the Giants have on both sides of the ball.

Certainly, fans probably scratched their heads in recent months as the Hawks have brought in player after player. They said all along that it was important to not just upgrade the talent at the starting positions, but everywhere across the depth chart, as well.

Sunday will be a chance to see how well they’ve managed.

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