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Clayton: Backup QB, O-line battles present the most intrigue in Seahawks’ preseason finale

Austin Davis tightened up his battle with Trevone Boykin for the backup QB spot last week. (AP)

Pete Carroll admits Saturday’s roster cutdown from 90 to 53 is going to be tough.

Carroll considers this Seahawks team one of the most talented they have put together since he’s become head coach. The roster is deep is so many positions.

Thursday’s final preseason game against the Oakland Raiders will help with the final determination of how the 53-man roster should shape up.

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During training camp and the preseason, players such as Kasen Williams, Chris Carson, David Bass, Marcus Smith and others have seemingly played themselves into roster spots. Let’s look at some of the remaining battles.

Wide receiver. The Seahawks will most likely keep six receivers. J.D. McKissic would be a seventh but he could be considered either the seventh receiver, fifth halfback or main returner on special teams. Figuring Doug Baldwin, Paul Richardson, Jermaine Kearse and Tyler Lockett are locks as the top four receivers, two spots remain open. Third-round choice Amara Darboh needs a good game against the Raiders to secure a spot on the roster. He has struggled through camp with some injuries and hasn’t really stepped up to lock up a spot. Still, it might be tough for the Seahawks to cut a third-round choice that had a second-round grade entering the draft. That leaves Kasen Williams battling Tanner McElvoy, David Moore and Kenny Lawler for the sixth and final spot. Because he’s been great on special teams and catching the football, Williams has the lead.

Offensive line. This one is one of the most interesting position groups entering the final preseason game. Rees Odhiambo, Luke Joeckel, Justin Britt, Germain Ifedi, Mark Glowinski, Ethan Pocic and Oday Aboushi are locks. But if the Seahawks keep McKissic, they would have to shorten one position group by a spot. That could mean keeping eight offensive linemen instead of nine, and that’s where it gets interesting Thursday. The Seahawks traded for Matt Tobin to back up at left tackle and left guard. If he makes it, undrafted guard Jordan Roos and Joey Hunt would be battling for the ninth spot – if there is one. Roos looks good and Hunt is in the mix because he is the backup center. Tough call.

Backup quarterback. Trevone Boykin was 0 for 6 throwing the ball against Kansas City last week, and Austin Davis narrowed the gap by having a strong game against the Chiefs, completing all five of his pass attempts. You figure this is Boykin’s job to lose, but he could lose it. This might be the best thing to watch against the Raiders.

Defensive line. Here’s who you can count on being on the roster: Michael Bennett, Ahtyba Rubin, Jarran Reed, Cliff Avril, Frank Clark, Cassius Marsh and Nazair Jones. Figuring the Seahawks will keep nine, Quinton Jefferson might have a hard time making it again going against Marcus Smith and David Bass. Smith and Bass have done well on special teams and both have been coached by defensive line coach Clint Hurtt.

Linebacker. This position filled up with talent. Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright, Terence Garvin and Michael Wilhoite should be locks. D.J. Alexander will make it because he is a Pro Bowl-caliber special teams player. Dewey McDonald and Michael Morgan will be battling for the final spot if the team keeps six.

Defensive backs. The likelihood is that the Seahawks will keep 10 defensive backs. First, the Seahawks have to see if they want to keep Tramaine Brock, who has a good chance to be compete for the job as nickel cornerback. Rookies Delano Hill, Tedric Thompson and Shaquill Griffin should be safe, as should be Bradley McDougald, who is the backup safety. That leaves DeAndre Elliott and Pierre Desir completing for the last spot. Elliott would have the edge because of his play on special teams.

Want more John Clayton? Listen on-demand to his weekday and Saturday shows as well as his “Cold Hard Facts” and “Clayton’s Morning Drive” segments on 710 ESPN Seattle. Also, check out his all-new “Schooled” podcast and look for his columns twice a week on 710Sports.com.

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