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Clayton: 7 Seahawks who need to ‘step up’ in the preseason

Seahawks safety Lano Hill is entering his third season. (AP)

Practice heated up significantly for the Seattle Seahawks Tuesday.

Seahawks DC gives progress report on defense

In practice, plays between offensive and defensive players were contested.

Unlike in past years, this season saw more Seahawks held out of the first preseason game, and it’s becoming rare to see many starters play at all in the preseason finale.

That means there’s a lot on the line for Sunday night’s game against the Minnesota Vikings and next Saturday’s game against the Los Angeles Chargers.

Let’s look at seven players who need to step up – or they could be in danger of not making the team.

• Safety Lano Hill: At the end of last year, Hill came out of the season with the best chance to be the starting strong safety. Though Tedric Thompson had a nice run as a starter, Hill seemed to please Pete Carroll and the coaching staff. But hip surgery and a long recovery have left him in a tough spot. Thompson is the starting free safety at the moment, but second-round choice Marquise Blair made enough plays to challenge for the starting role.

Hill was able to practice for the first time Monday, but the pressure is on. Blair is going to make the team. If Thompson beats out Hill and Blair, Hill could be headed for the waiver wire. Further complicating things for Hill is safety Shalom Luani, who is a core group special teams player. Because of injuries at the safety position earlier this preseason, the Seahawks also brought back veteran DeShawn Shead.

Hill needs good performances both in practice and in the next two games.

• Tight end Jacob Hollister: Hollister was a star in OTAs and minicamp. He has 4.55 speed. He catches the ball well. He’s a decent blocker and special teams player. The Seahawks felt he was well worth the 2020 seventh-round pick it cost them to acquire him from New England in a trade.

A groin injury has kept him on the sidelines the last couple weeks, but he’s in a good spot to make the team. Veteran Ed Dickson is out for more than a month following knee surgery. His job is in jeopardy. It’s up to Hollister to do well and win the No. 3 spot.

• Halfback C.J. Prosise: Prosise just can’t shake injuries. His final run to make the Seahawks comes down to getting healthy and showing he can be dependable. He didn’t play in the first preseason game. This week, he’s once again hurt.

If he doesn’t play, you figure he’s going to be cut. The Seahawks are deep at running back. He needs to put up now, or the team will move on.

• Defensive tackle Nazair Jones: Poona Ford is considered a likely starter at defensive tackle and he could be a potential star. The Seahawks signed two veteran run-stoppers: Al Woods and Earl Mitchell. Jones showed great potential rookie but didn’t get that much better last year in his second season.

He’s battled a knee problem. The final defensive tackle spot could come down to Jones or Jamie Meder. It’s time for Jones to make a run in the next two games.

• Quarterback Paxton Lynch: Even though Geno Smith has outplayed Lynch in practice, Lynch outplayed him in the first preseason game. After an off practice on Sunday, Lynch looked good Monday and Tuesday and is in contention to make the team.

Smith needs another week to recover from a surgical removal of cyst in his left knee. Lynch will get playing time. If he takes advantage of it, he could win the backup quarterback position.

• Wide receivers Keenan Reynolds and John Ursua: Both have done well at the slot position, but it’s a tough fight for the final receiving jobs. The top four spots, belonging to Tyler Lockett, Jaron Brown, David Moore and D.K. Metcalf, are locks. Tall receiver Jazz Ferguson (6-foot-5, 227-pounds) further makes it tough for Reynolds and Ursua. The race is on.

John Clayton on 710 ESPN Seattle
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