The 3 Questions: Is Seahawks rookie Ugo Amadi ready for nickel corner job?
A Seahawks’ roster move could mean a rookie gets a start Sunday. Plus, will Tyler Lockett play? And what can the defense expect from Carson Wentz? It’s all in this week’s 3 Questions.
What does the Seahawks’ latest roster move mean for Sunday?
On Wednesday, the Seahawks activated tight end Ed Dickson from the injured reserve list to add depth with Luke Willson sidelined with a hamstring injury suffered in Week 10. To make room on the roster, the team waived defensive back Jamar Taylor, who was the reigning starter at nickel cornerback.
The Seahawks are now left with a void at that nickel corner position – but also with two potential answers.
The most likely candidate is rookie Ugo Amadi, who appeared to beat out Taylor for the starting job. Taylor was a casualty of the team’s final roster cuts out of training camp, and Amadi got the start in Week 1 against Cincinnati. However, the Seahawks re-signed Taylor just one week later when Amadi suffered a shoulder injury.
Since then, Taylor has been the regular starter at corner while Amadi has taken all of his snaps on special teams. And in that role, he’s been one of Seattle’s strongest performers. Highlights included a preseason tackle seen here that head coach Pete Carroll called “a perfect play.” But assuming Amadi’s called upon to start Sunday, it’ll be his first time in weeks seeing defensive snaps.
What’s the difference between then and now?
“He’s gathered hundreds of reps more now,” Carroll said Wednesday. “He’s better versed now, more than ever. He’s a real smart player and a real heady player. He really has his assignments in order and the techniques that we’re expecting him to play. If he’s the guy playing in the game, we can really count on him to know what’s going on.”
Amadi said his play on special teams has been a confidence builder.
“Any opportunity I get to go on the field, I make the most of it,” Amadi said. “All that stuff, the special teams always relays over to how you play on defense. You see all the guys like Kam Chancellor – started off on special teams and then they moved him on to defense. He even excelled more on defense. All that stuff relays over.”
Another possibility at nickel corner is safety Quandre Diggs, who was acquired by Seattle via trade in late October. Diggs spent his first couple weeks in Seattle recovering from a hamstring injury but got the start at free safety against the 49ers and recorded his first interception with his new team. Carroll seemed enamored with the safety play in Week 10 – calling it the best Seattle has played at the safety spot all year – so while Diggs is an option at nickel, he’ll likely get a second start at free safety against Philadelphia.
Will Tyler Lockett play Sunday?
Lockett was one of 11 Seahawks players to be limited in practice Wednesday, though from Carroll’s comments it sounds as though that workload was light – a walkthrough before practice and some work with quarterback Russell Wilson afterward. However, Carroll expects Lockett to be more involved as the week progresses, and as of Wednesday he was expecting the veteran receiver to play Sunday.
“I do,” Carroll said when asked whether he thinks Lockett will be active. “He thinks that, too.”
Lockett suffered a lower leg contusion in Seattle’s last outing, a Week 10 win over San Francisco, and had to remain behind in the Bay Area at a nearby hospital for monitoring. Based on Carroll’s comments after that game, early this week, and Wednesday, it sounds as though the most serious aspect of Lockett’s injury (the compartment issues) is behind him. Now, he just needs to make it through a week of practice.
Is Carson Wentz the Seahawks’ biggest threat in Philly?
The Seahawks’ defense had a revival in Week 10, finishing with five sacks, 10 quarterback hits, one interception, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery for a touchdown. It was a performance that, while encouraging, will also be tested in Seattle’s final stretch of contests.
The Seahawks face a six-game slate that includes games against the rest of the NFC west, plus the Panthers, Eagles and Vikings. Five of those six teams have records over .500. The Arizona Cardinals, the only remaining Seahawks opponent with a losing record, have twice come close to besting the one-loss 49ers.
Tough obstacles certainly lie ahead, is Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz one of them?
To be clear, the answer isn’t “no.” But on paper at least, Minnesota’s Kirk Cousins is outpacing the other five opposing quarterbacks on Seattle’s schedule in completion percentage (70.6%), touchdowns (21) and passer rating (114.8). Wentz is posting a career-low in passing yards per game (227) but he’s thrown just two interceptions since Week 3 and the Eagles’ offense still boasts strong talent.
With healthy versions of Wentz, tight end Zach Ertz (Philly’s leading receiver), running backs Jordan Howard and Miles Sanders, and wide receivers Nelson Agholar and Alshon Jeffery, the Eagles can give an opposing defense fits. They key word here is “health,” however, since both Agholar and Jeffery were listed on Wednesday’s injury report.