Examining the Seattle Seahawks' roster:
To keep Pryor or not keep Pryor as a third QB remains one of the most difficult roster decisions for the Seahawks. Pryor didn't help his chances Friday night when he threw only two passes, one into the ground and the other an interception. No question that Pryor is a great athlete who can run, as witnessed by his impressive 44-yard TD run in the second half of the San Diego game two weeks ago. But the jury still is out on Pryor's passing skills. He is 1-for-6 for 10 yards in the last two games. It's really a 50-50 call depending on how he plays Thursday night against his former Oakland teammates. Meanwhile, the forgotten man is B.J. Daniels, who might be a better passer than Pryor and also has excellent running skills.
RUNNING BACKS (3)
There's no roster battle among these three, but Michael had his best game of the preseason Friday night against Chicago. Most importantly, he held on to the ball, which he didn't do in the first two games, and had a 7-yard TD catch. Lynch finally got a few carries Friday and scored on a 7-yard TD run. That's probably it for him until the season opener against Green Bay on Sept. 4.
I've had Spencer Ware on the roster all preseason, but now I don't think he has done enough to keep a spot. Ware's been playing more RB than FB, so he doesn't really fit in. Coleman has played well as the starting FB and continues to improve his blocking skills. The other fullback is rookie Kiero Small (5-foot-8, 250 pounds), who could end up on the practice squad. Turbin can line up at FB if needed.
Four of these spots are set -- Harvin, Baldwin, Kearse and Richardson, the rookie speedster from Colorado. But eight players are vying for the final two spots, or maybe just one. Kevin Norwood, a rookie from Alabama, had foot surgery and it's questionable if he will be ready to start the regular season. That opens up a possible spot. Lockette and Walters are the likely candidates. Walters did a nice job returning punts against San Diego, but didn't play Friday night because of bruised ribs. Lockette, who has 4.3 speed, once again showed his value as a punt gunner with a vicious hit in the Chicago game, even though he was flagged on the play. Phil Bates looked good in training camp and still has a shot, but probably needs to show something in the final preseason game. Rookie Kevin Smith has looked good in practice and could be headed for the practice squad.
TIGHT ENDS (3)
The question here is whether the Seahawks want to keep three tight ends. You would think on a team that relies on its power running game, that would be a given. However, the Seahawks often used OT Alvin Bailey as a tight end (or extra tackle) on running plays toward the end of last season. It looked like Helfet had the third TE spot locked down, but he injured his shoulder Friday night and his status is unknown. Undrafted rookie Rashaun Allen or rookie Morrell Presley could end up in the practice squad.
OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (9)
All the decisions here are about which men will be the four backups. Any doubts about whether Britt could step in and start at RT as a rookie have been put to rest. Bailey and Jeanpierre probably are locked in, so that leaves to available spots. Surely one will go to the veteran Winston. He will cost the Seahawks $1 million, but he can give them quality snaps at either tackle spot. The other backup has to be a guard, so it could come down to Schilling or Caylin Hauptmann. Schilling grew up in the Seattle area and was signed in the offseason. He has shown he also can play center. Hauptmann has a bit of a mean streak that offensive line coach Tom Cable loves. The Seahawks also brought in veteran guard Wade Smith. The coaches are high of rookie tackle Garry Gilliam, a quality athlete who also played tight end at Penn State.
DEFENSIVE LINE (9)
Second-year defensive tackle Jesse Williams suffered a season-ending knee injury last week, but signing veteran Kevin Williams before minicamp was a major addition to the rotation at defensive tackle. After outstanding games in the last two weeks, Schofield has earned his spot as a nickel-package pass rusher. DE Benson Mayowa is on the bubble. Scruggs’ return after missing last season will help the depth because he can play defensive end or defensive tackle. The Seahawks are high on rookie defensive end Marsh, who will factor in in nickel packages. Rookie Jimmy Staten probably goes to the practice squad. Hill has been a disappointment so far in the preseason.
I'm assuming here that OLB Bruce Irvin (hip surgery) will not be ready to start the season, but he might if he returns this week. Korey Toomer (hamstring injury) returned last week after being out all summer, but coach Pete Carroll indicated Toomer will have to show something to stick. Coyle has been the biggest surprise at camp. He has started at MLB (Wagner has a hamstring injury) in the preseason games and played pretty well. I've been going with six LBs all summer, but I'm listing seven now with special-teams captain Farwell retaining his roster spot. Farwell had his best game of the preseason Friday night with four tackles, including a sack. If Irvin is ready to go, a really difficult cut is coming here. Pierre-Louis is a super-fast rookie who will contribute a lot on special teams this season. The coaches moved rookie defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat to outside linebacker, but this is a tough place to make the roster.
Another tough cut is coming here. A.J. Jefferson had a great game at Denver, but suffered a significant ankle injury and is out for several weeks and may not be ready to start the season. So Adams could get that fifth CB spot. He has looked good and he can return kicks. Lane had a great game Friday with an interception, five tackles and three passes defensed. He'll start as the nickelback and likely is headed toward his best season as a pro. Simon, who missed his rookie year last season with injuries, has impressed everyone with his athleticism.
Johnson has been solid all preseason and is the first backup at both safety spots. Shead is listed as a cornerback, but the team needs him more at the safety spots. Chancellor is back after offseason hip surgery. Thomas had a 59-yard punt return Friday, so he may have earned double-duty despite the risk of injury to the defensive star. Rookie Eric Pinkins could spend the season on IR after injuring his foot.
These spots are set unless an injury occurs.