Assertions, predictions from Week 1 of Seahawks training camp
Three things I know:
1. Jeremy Lane is the fifth defensive back in nickel situations.
That’s barring injury, of course, but there was no player more diligent than Lane this offseason. Walter Thurmond’s free-agent departure leaves an opening in the nickel defense, one that Lane seized and refused to let go. One of the fastest members of the Seahawks’ secondary, he’s also one of the scrappiest. He’ll need to be when bigger receivers – and in some cases even tight ends – are in the slot.
2. Justin Britt will start at right tackle.
Plenty of people suspected that the acquisition of Eric Winston reflected concern over Britt’s readiness to start at right tackle. It did not. Winston was more a reflection of the uncertainty regarding Michael Bowie, who was supposed to compete for the starting job at that position and is now a member of the Cleveland Browns. The reason for that? Well, Bowie’s conditioning was a question mark even before he suffered the shoulder injury that will require surgery and keep him out the next four to six months. The loss of Paul McQuistan took away some of Seattle’s versatility, not to mention its most veteran lineman. Winston gives Seattle an option in that regard.
3. Brock Coyle is the undrafted rookie most likely to make the team.
Coyle is a linebacker out of Montana, and with Bobby Wagner slowed by a tight hamstring this week, he has seen time with Seattle’s first-unit defense. Coyle still has an uphill climb to make this roster given the fact that Heath Farwell is a veteran leader and a special-teams mainstay. But the absence of a number of linebackers so far – whether it’s Malcolm Smith and Bruce Irvin coming back from offseason surgery or Wagner and Korey Toomer both out with hamstring injuries – has provided an opportunity for Coyle to showcase himself. “Everybody really likes him,” coach Pete Carroll said. “He’s doing a good job on special teams. He’s very bright. It’s not too big for him to handle the calls and all that. We won’t really know until we get to playing, and see how he’s running and hitting and making his plays.”
Three things I think:
1. Luke Willson will have more receptions than Zach Miller.
That’s not a knock on Miller so much as a compliment to Willson. Miller is a stalwart blocker with great hands, but he doesn’t have the downfield speed to separate from a linebacker at this point in his career. Willson has the tools to become a dynamic player in this offense. As a rookie last season, the realistic expectation was he would be a No. 3 tight end and deep-threat specialist. Instead, the offseason injury to Anthony McCoy made Willson the backup. While Miller may remain the starter in the base offense, expect Willson to become more of a focus in the passing game.
2. Kevin Norwood’s foot may be Seattle’s most troublesome injury so far.
The fourth-round pick out of Alabama has not been placed on injured reserve like defensive lineman Jesse Williams and McCoy, who are both lost for the year. And he’s certainly not in danger of following Bowie out of town. But Norwood’s foot injury might result in the most serious loss Seattle suffered the first week. A receiver’s foot is like a baseball pitcher’s shoulder in that unspecified soreness can be ominous, and the fact that this soreness is related to a surgery Norwood underwent in college might keep him from contributing at all this season.
3. Cassius Marsh is going to factor sooner rather than later.
Seattle essentially red-shirted most of its 2013 draft class as Bowie and Willson were the only pair to receive significant playing time. That’s going to change this year with Britt a likely starter on offense and Marsh projecting into a significant role as an end in Seattle’s base defense and tackle in the Seahawks’ nickel package. Of the nine players Seattle drafted back in May, Marsh is the one who has shown glimpses of being an absolute superstar in the making.