NFC West: Kregg Lumpkin

Marshawn Lynch active for Seahawks

September, 9, 2012
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Seattle Seahawks will have running back Marshawn Lynch for their regular-season opener despite back spasms that limited him in practice recently.

Lynch is active for the game. Seattle named the following players inactive: Kregg Lumpkin, Byron Maxwell, John Moffitt, James Carpenter, Golden Tate, Jaye Howard and Greg Scruggs.

Moffitt was the starting right guard early in camp, but rookie J.R. Sweezy took over the job. Lemuel Jeanpierre is the primary backup at the interior offensive line spots. He started some last season.

Arizona named cornerback Greg Toler inactive. Others: Ryan Lindley, LaRon Byrd, William Powell, Jamaal Westerman, Senio Kelemete and Pat McQuistan.
NFL teams are pretty much finished tweaking their rosters until training camps begin later this month.

Organized team activities have passed, as have minicamps.

It's a good time to reassess where teams stand and where they might be headed at various positions based on the admittedly limited information available at this time. So, beginning with this item and continuing through Tuesday, I'll offer up for consideration roster breakdowns for each NFC West team, beginning with the offenses.

Quarterbacks (4)

Average number kept since 2003: 2.8

Safest bets: Matt Flynn, Russell Wilson, Tarvaris Jackson

Leading contenders: Josh Portis

Longer odds: none

Comment: The plan calls for Jackson, Flynn and Wilson to take turns with the first-team offense when training camp opens. The roster spots for Flynn and Wilson appear most secure. Jackson's situation appears most volatile. He could start, he could serve as a veteran backup at a reduced salary or he could be released. Seattle has to hope Flynn or Wilson takes advantage of the opportunity, on the theory that Jackson has most likely peaked. The Seahawks still like Portis as well, but keeping four quarterbacks isn't a realistic option.

Running backs (7)

Average number kept since 2003: 5.1

Safest bets: Marshawn Lynch, Leon Washington, Robert Turbin, Michael Robinson

Leading contenders: Kregg Lumpkin, Tyrell Sutton

Longer odds: Vai Taua

Comment: Turbin becomes the big back Seattle wanted as insurance for Lynch. Washington emerges as the undisputed change-of-pace back after the Seahawks decided against re-signing Justin Forsett, who landed in Houston. Robinson's value on special teams and at fullback would seem to buy security for him at a position of decreasing value around the league.

Wide receivers (13)

Average number kept since 2003: 5.3

Safest bets: Sidney Rice, Doug Baldwin, Golden Tate

Leading contenders: Kris Durham, Ricardo Lockette, Ben Obomanu, Mike Williams, Deon Butler

Longer odds: Phil Bates, Charly Martin, Lavasier Tuinei, Cameron Kenney

Comment: Baldwin appears to be the receiver Seattle can count on the most. That is good and bad. The team needs Rice to hold up physically after undergoing surgeries on both shoulders this offseason. Concussions were another problem for Rice last season. Tate was ascending when last season ended. The broken hand he suffered this offseason prevented Tate from participating fully in minicamps. He needs to avoid additional setbacks to build on last season. Durham could make Williams expendable. Lockette's speed separates him from the other receivers on the roster. He's raw, but two long receptions late last season showed big-play potential.

Tight ends (5)

Average number kept since 2003: 3.2

Safest bets: Zach Miller, Kellen Winslow

Leading contenders: Anthony McCoy, Cameron Morrah

Longer odds: Sean McGrath

Comment: Winslow's addition altered Seattle's outlook at the position. The team hopes to use him in tandem with Miller to force unfavorable matchups upon opponents. The plan will be to pound away with Lynch if defenses play sub packages against Miller and Winslow, or to pass if teams show base looks. That was part of the plan a year ago as well, but John Carlson's injury limited Seattle's options. Carlson's departure in free agency stung. Winslow was a viable fallback even though knee problems limit his speed and prevent him from practicing regularly.

Offensive linemen (15)

Average number kept since 2003: 9.1

Safest bets: Russell Okung, Paul McQuistan, Max Unger, John Moffitt, Breno Giacomini, James Carpenter, Deuce Lutui

Leading contenders: Alex Barron, J.R. Sweezy, Frank Omiyale, Allen Barbre, Rishaw Johnson, Lemuel Jeanpierre

Longer odds: Edawn Coughman, Paul Fanaika

Comment: Seattle has kept 10 offensive linemen in Week 1 during each of its first two seasons under coach Pete Carroll. Short-term injury concerns generally play into any decision to keep more than nine. Seattle figures to save a spot early in the season by leaving Carpenter on the physically unable to perform list. That would leave room, in theory, for three players from the "leading contenders" list above. Jeanpierre has value as a guard with the ability to back up at center. Moffitt also got work at center this offseason. Johnson made a positive impression as an undrafted rookie this offseason. Barbre will serve a suspension to open the season. Barron could project as a swing tackle.
NFC West fans had running backs in mind during our chat Thursday.

We had Joe C. from Fort Worth asking for projected carry breakdowns in Arizona if the Cardinals' Beanie Wells and Ryan Williams are both healthy. k1joyce from Massachusetts, fearful over what would happen if Seattle lost Marshawn Lynch to injury, pointed to the "seldom-talked-about lack of depth" at the position for the Seahawks. Jim from California wondered which running backs the San Francisco 49ers would keep.

I didn't get to all those questions, but in an attempt to size up the position for each NFC West team, I've put together potential depth charts for running backs in the division. Every team has six halfbacks, so the chart balances. The order will shake out during training camp, of course. I've got an eraser handy.

Every team in the division but Seattle has used a second-round choice for a running back in the past two drafts. Arizona did so with Williams in 2011. San Francisco (LaMichael James) and St. Louis (Isaiah Pead) used second-rounders for runners this year.

Seattle used a 2012 fourth-round choice for Robert Turbin. The team also added Kregg Lumpkin in free agency. Both are bigger than former backup Justin Forsett. That was by design. The Seahawks now have multiple backs with the size to carry the ball on early downs, but it's too early to know whether the team could maintain its physical approach on offense without Lynch. It wasn't possible last season. Now, it's possible, but no sure thing.

Wells will probably get more carries than Williams this season even though Williams, when healthy, excites the Cardinals at least as much. Both backs are coming off knee surgeries. Wells figures to be healthier first. He will presumably get most of the carries early in the season. We still don't know when Williams will resume full participation or how well he'll perform upon returning. The injury he suffered (torn patella) was serious. The Cardinals are optimistic, but there's still uncertainty.

The situation behind Frank Gore in San Francisco is more confusing. The 49ers wanted to upgrade their backups while preparing for life after Gore. Anthony Dixon faces an uphill fight for a roster spot, it appears. He played five percent of the snaps last season. Kendall Hunter played 28 percent, a figure that also appears likely to fall.

The Rams finally have some youth behind Steven Jackson. I could see them using another relatively early pick on a back in 2013. Jackson is scheduled to earn $7 million in each of the next two seasons. He turns 29 next month and will be looking to reach 1,000 yards for an eighth consecutive season.

A few NFC West notes heading into the weekend:
  • The Arizona Cardinals announced kicker Jay Feely's return to the team on a two-year agreement. Arizona had been the only team without a specialist under contract.
  • Tackle Demetrius Bell and cornerback William Gay remain unsigned. Both visited the Cardinals earlier in free agency. Addressing tackle in particular would give Arizona welcome flexibility heading into the draft.
  • The Seattle Seahawks announced a contract agreement with running back Kregg Lumpkin, who became a free agent when Tampa Bay decided against making a qualifying offer to him. Lumpkin was an undrafted free agent with Green Bay when Seahawks general manager John Schneider worked for the Packers. Lumpkin, 5-foot-11 and 228 pounds, had more receptions (41) than carries (31) last season. I'm not sure to what degree Lumpkin addresses the Seahawks' need for a backup with good size.
  • Visanthe Shiancoe, 31, looks like the most logical choice for Seattle as the team seeks a replacement for tight end John Carlson. The market dried up further Friday when Jacob Tamme and Joel Dreessen signed with Denver. Tamme and Shiancoe have visited Seattle. Shiancoe and Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell were together in Minnesota. By my count, Shiancoe and Jeremy Shockey are the only remaining unrestricted-free-agent tight ends listed as starters last season.
  • Former St. Louis Rams linebacker Chris Chamberlain will be reunited with Steve Spagnuolo after signing a three-year deal with New Orleans. The Rams have rights to only three linebackers, tied for the lowest figure in the NFL. The team needs help at outside linebacker in particular. The market for linebackers remains soft. Erin Henderson returned to Minnesota on a one-year deal for $2 million.
  • Funny quote from Vernon Davis regarding new San Francisco 49ers teammate Randy Moss, from KNBR radio via "I have been a big fan of Randy since I was a kid. I used to wear his shoes, I remember running up and down the field. 'Mossed, oh, you just got Mossed.' And I remember I used to say, one day they are going to be saying that about me, you just got 'Davised.' " We could say the New Orleans Saints got Davised during the playoffs.

The chart shows roster counts for NFC West teams, counting active players, restricted free agents and franchise players.
We made it through the NFC West chat without any scandals erupting or starting quarterbacks taking free-agent visits.

We learned that former San Francisco 49ers guard Chilo Rachal planned to visit the St. Louis Rams, another indication that the 49ers are content starting fresh at right guard.

The Rams need a left guard and have not re-signed Jacob Bell, who played for new Rams coach Jeff Fisher in Tennessee. Bell, 31, missed the final four games of the 2011 season with the Rams after suffering a knee injury.

Full chat transcript here. Highlights below:
Caleb from Orofino, Idaho asks what are the Seattle Seahawks intentions at running back behind starter Marshawn Lynch, especially now that Michael Bush is off the market.

Mike Sando: The Seahawks will try to sign a power back to spell Marshawn Lynch. Kregg Lumpkin is someone they are reportedly going to visit with. He is 5-11 and 228 pounds. Broke into the NFL with Green Bay when Seahawks general manager John Schneider was with the Packers. We could also see Seattle draft a bigger back. The plan will be to have two bigger backs, plus Leon Washington as a change-of-pace runner. They probably will not want to have two change-of-pace guys at the expense of a second power guy, which explains why Justin Forsett might not be back.

Aaron from Wisconsin expects the San Francisco 49ers to be strong on defense again, but he wonders where on the roster they could most use reinforcements.

Mike Sando: Receiver, center and right guard are three positions that need to be addressed. However, I do not think the 49ers absolutely have to draft for one of these positions early. I'd have no trouble with them adding another front-line talent to their defensive front, perhaps someone with the ability to take over when Justin Smith is finally finished (Smith has so far shown no signs of slowing, but he is up there in years and the 49ers should anticipate a drop-off at some point).

Josh from Mesa, Ariz., asks whether the Arizona Cardinals' pursuit of Peyton Manning prevented them from making major moves in free agency.

Mike Sando: My sense is that Arizona wasn't going to be very aggressive in the market this offseason. They won the offseason last year, only to start with a 1-6 record. They seem to like some of their younger players and want to give them a chance to grow. Offensive tackle was one position I thought they might try to address in free agency, but Jared Gaither re-signed with San Diego early in the signing period. There weren't a lot of great options.

Northwest Guy from Gig Harbor, Wash., asks whether the St. Louis Rams have so far had the best offseason of any team in the NFC West by hiring a new coach, adding first-round picks, etc. He suggests the Cardinals and 49ers have been more stagnant in the personnel acquisition.

Mike Sando: Yeah, I would agree on the Rams having a good offseason so far. The Matt Flynn acquisition in Seattle will determine whether the Seahawks have had a good offseason. If he is the answer, their offseason might be the best of any in the division. That's how pivotal the quarterback position tends to be. The Rams have certainly given themselves an opportunity to build for the long term. Ideally, however, they would have added some weapons for Sam Bradford. So far, they have not, and that was their top priority for the short term.

Battles for Seattle lamented during the chat that his question about the Seahawks' draft plans wasn't getting answered, but I did get to it. Thanks again everyone. Always enjoy the chats.