Seahawks assistant Brian Schneider: Special teams may be deepest yet
The Seattle Seahawks have had quite a few standout players this preseason, but fans shouldn’t forget about the players vying to stake their place on special teams, especially since special teams coach Brian Schneider told 710 ESPN Seattle’s John Clayton this year’s roster may be the deepest yet.
“I think this is the deepest roster we’ve had from one to 90,” Schneider said Wednesday. “And so when you have really good players, our job is to try to fit them into the different things we have going. But I just think our whole roster is pretty deep right now. And it’s exciting, and it makes for a great competition because all the players know it too. What I told them the first day is our goal is for all 90 of you guys to be on a team, and hopefully it’s our team, but it’s the reality of the NFL.”
For players who may not start, making themselves versatile and as useful as possible on special teams is the best way to make their case for a roster spot. Veteran players like linebacker Cassius Marsh and Kasen Williams, who is also making his case as the fifth wide receiver with the offensive unit, have impressed again this year. However, a few new faces could propel themselves onto the roster by standing out on kick return duties. That includes former 49ers linebacker Michael Wilhoite, linebacker D.J. Alexander (whom Seattle picked up in a trade for linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis) and linebacker Terence Garvin, formerly with Washington.
Schneider is also happy to see several defensive backs and linebackers with ability on special teams; he noted the contributions of rookie safety Delano Hill, who played on special teams for four years at Michigan, as an example.
“It’s very similar to 2013,” Schneider said, speaking of the roster’s depth. “It was a hard day when we had to let some guys go (that year) because we really wanted to keep a lot of guys. And when you look at that roster, I think almost everyone made another roster or made a practice squad, and it was just a really deep competition. But it’s very similar, especially in the DBs and wide receiver. There’s just some guys that can play on offense and defense, and they have a lot of value on special teams.”
The Seahawks faced doubt earlier this year after releasing veteran kicker Stephen Hauschka and replacing him with Blair Walsh, a move that saved Seattle more than $2 million in cap space. Schneider said he sees Walsh, 27, as a great talent and hard worker, even if he comes to Seattle known mostly for missing a kick that allowed Seattle to leave Minnesota with a playoff win two seasons ago.
“When you combine those two things I think he has a great upside,” Schneider said, “and whatever’s happened, I think he’s ready to come in here and prove (it) to himself more than anything, and he’s been very good.”