NFC West: Travis Fisher
ESPN.com Seattle Seahawks reporter Terry Blount makes his game-by-game picks for the 2014 season.
Week 1: Green Bay Packers
All the pregame hype will center around the so-called Inaccurate Reception, the controversial Hail Mary catch by Golden Tate two years ago that won the game over the Packers at Seattle on a Monday night. Tate has moved on to Detroit, but the Seahawks now have too many weapons for the Packers to stop, no Hail Mary required. Prediction: Win
Week 2: at San Diego Chargers
The Chargers better hope they play a lot better than they did in the preseason game at Seattle, a 41-14 victory for the Seahawks on Aug. 15. San Diego will play better, but not good enough to beat a much better team. Prediction: Win
Week 3: Denver Broncos
The Broncos and their fans got a tiny bit of meaningless Super Bowl revenge in the preseason opener with a 21-16 victory over the Seahawks in Denver. Enjoy it while it lasts, boys. Repeating that outcome in Seattle is not an option. Prediction: Win
Week 5: at Washington Redskins
Traveling coast to coast to play on the road for a Monday night game is a tough task against any NFL opponent, and even tougher against quarterback Robert Griffin III. But the Seahawks catch a break in this one by coming off a bye week with plenty of time to prepare and be fresh for the journey. Prediction: Win
Week 6: Dallas Cowboys
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones gave Seattle a little bulletin-board material last month when he said the Seahawks were to blame for the increase in penalty flags during the preseason. There won't be near enough flags against Seattle for the Cowboys to win this one. Prediction: Win
Week 7: at St. Louis Rams
Any division game in the NFC West is a rugged battle. The Rams have a defensive line that gave the Seahawks problems a year ago. But they aren't strong enough overall to beat Seattle, even at home in their out-of-date dome. Prediction: Win
Week 8: at Carolina Panthers
The Seahawks were fortunate to win the season opener at Charlotte a year ago. That Panthers team was better than this one, but back-to-back road games against very physical defensive teams will end the Seattle winning streak. Prediction: Loss
Week 9: Oakland Raiders
Coming off their first loss of the season and returning home against an outmanned opponent, is there any doubt? Prediction: Win
Week 10: New York Giants
The Seahawks easily defeated the Giants 23-0 last year in New Jersey, a dress rehearsal for their Super Bowl victory at the same location -- MetLife Stadium. The Seahawks won't need a rehearsal to roll past the Giants in this one. Prediction: Win
Week 11: at Kansas City Chiefs
This likely will be a low-scoring game between two strong defensive teams. Odds are against any team that has to try to win by matching its defense against the Seahawks' D. Prediction: Win
Week 12: Arizona Cardinals
The last time the Cardinals played at CenturyLink Field was last December when they handed the Seahawks a 17-10 loss. That won't happen again unless the Seahawks get caught looking ahead to the 49ers game. The Seahawks don't look ahead. Prediction: Win
Week 13: at San Francisco 49ers
It's a Thanksgiving night, national TV game in the 49ers' shiny new stadium against the hated Seahawks. If San Francisco can't win this one, its time as a championship contender is over. Prediction: Loss
Week 14: at Philadelphia Eagles
This is the toughest part of the season for the Seahawks with back-to-back road games against likely playoff contenders. But the 10 days between games will help and be enough of a cushion to keep Seattle from losing two in a row. Prediction: Win
Week 15: San Francisco 49ers
This is a game that could decide which team wins the NFC West. No way the Seahawks lose to the 49ers twice in three weeks, especially not in front of a rabid full house of 12s. Prediction: Win
Week 16: at Arizona Cardinals
The Cardinals probably will be fighting for a playoff spot, and the Seahawks already will be in at 12-2. That difference will be just enough for Arizona to win at home in the same stadium where the Seahawks will win the Super Bowl a few weeks later. Prediction: Loss
Week 17: St. Louis Rams
For the second consecutive year, the Rams close the regular season in Seattle. And for the second consecutive year, the Seahawks will beat them without much trouble. Prediction: Win
Predicted Record: 13-3
Cornerback Antoine Winfield was the latest addition to the "Minnesota West" roster in Seattle.
"Ever since we controversially signed Steve Hutchinson from them," Aaron writes, "it has seemed as though the Seahawks go out of their way to snatch whatever Vikings they can to stick it to us. It started with them signing Nate Burleson, then Sidney Rice and Heath Farwell, Darell Bevell and Tarvaris Jackson (for whatever reason). They even outbid us for T.J. Houshmanzadeh a few years back. They signed Ryan Longwell at the end of this past season. Obviously, it has continued with Percy Harvin and now Winfield."
Sando: It's a remarkable pattern, but there's likely no revenge factor. The people running the Seahawks during the Hutchinson controversy are long gone from the organization. They were involved in adding Burleson and Houshmandzadeh, but they had nothing to do with the Seahawks' more recent deals for Rice, Farwell, Bevell, Jackson, Harvin or Winfield.
Bevell's hiring as the Seahawks' offensive coordinator stands out as a factor behind the team's decisions to sign Rice and trade for Harvin.
John Schneider's presence as the Seahawks' general manager since 2010 provides a strong link to the NFC North in general. Schneider, after spending much of his career with the Green Bay Packers, played a role in Seattle adding former NFC North players such as Breno Giacomini, Will Blackmon, Cliff Avril, Steven Hauschka, Brett Swain, Frank Omiyale and others. Also, Schneider and Bevell were together in Green Bay. However, Seattle has added many more players without ties to the Vikings or the NFC North.
For a while, the Detroit Lions signed or otherwise acquired a long list of players with Seahawks ties. There were some connections between the organizations -- former Lions coach Rod Marinelli and former Seahawks GM Tim Ruskell shared a history with Tampa Bay, for instance -- but some of the overlap defied explanation.
Tyler Polumbus, Burleson, Will Heller, Rob Sims, Lawrence Jackson, Maurice Morris, Julian Peterson, Trevor Canfield, Marquand Manuel, Kole Heckendorf, Kevin Hobbs, Logan Payne, Chuck Darby, Keary Colbert, Billy McMullen, Travis Fisher, Cory Redding, John Owens, Joel Filani, T.J. Duckett, Kevin Kasper, Etric Pruitt and Mike Williams were among the players to play for both organizations.
Update: The Burleson signing did have a retaliatory aspect, as ZippyWasBanned noted in the comments section. Seattle signed him to an offer sheet featuring "poison pills" similar to the ones that helped the Vikings land Hutchinson.
This is the second part in a series that began with a look at 15 classes of NFC West quarterbacks. Then as now, I'll break up the charts with narration from teams' perspectives.
These guys had better start early and challenge for Pro Bowls ...
Some prospects aren't ideal in one area or another, but they could shine in the right scheme ...
Still not too late to find decent starters ...
Last chance to find a likely contributor ...
Time to fill out the 80-man roster ...
They're drafting too late for a realistic shot at LSU's Patrick Peterson, who apparently knows this, and the position isn't one of great need for the Rams, anyway.
Before taking a look at cornerbacks the Rams have drafted since moving to St. Louis for the 1995 season, I'll pass along thoughts on the position from coach Steve Spagnuolo, who addressed his secondary over breakfast at the NFL owners meeting last month:
"Real happy with the way Bradley Fletcher overcame his knee injury. I do think it affected him early in the season. As you guys know, when you have the ACL, his knee injury was pretty extensive, you come back and it takes the whole year. I'm really looking forward to him this coming year.
"Jerome Murphy, rookie, I thought he came on at the end, so that is helpful. Ron Bartell, this will be the third year for him in this system, so that is real helpful. Justin King will bounce back. He battled injuries. It was a pull or a groin. We have some guys there to work with that will help us. We're OK. You would like to add a guy at any position."
That final sentence came off as obligatory -- what coaches say when leaving open the possibility for something unexpected.
The Rams have drafted only one cornerback, Tye Hill, in the first round since moving to St. Louis. They haven't drafted one higher than 65th overall over the past four drafts. The team could still draft one relatively early, but it's an upset if the Rams use the 14th overall choice for one.
The latest move between the teams is particularly chuckle-worthy (surely there must be some reason these teams keep hooking up, but I can't find any hard ties). The Lions recently won a waiver-claim battle with Seattle over former Denver Broncos offensive lineman Tyler Polumbus. The Lions held Polumbus for a few days, then traded him to the Seahawks, presumably for something of minimal or even conditional value. Polumbus and Seahawks offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates were with the Broncos in 2008.
The Seahawks and Lions have made multiple trades and shared multiple players spanning multiple coaching staffs and front offices in recent years.
Among the players to spend time on both rosters: Polumbus, Nate Burleson, Will Heller, Rob Sims, Lawrence Jackson, Maurice Morris, Julian Peterson, Trevor Canfield, Marquand Manuel, Kole Heckendorf, Kevin Hobbs, Logan Payne, Chuck Darby, Keary Colbert, Billy McMullen, Travis Fisher, Cory Redding, John Owens, Jon Kitna (OK, not recently in Seattle), Joel Filani, T.J. Duckett, Kevin Kasper, Ike Charlton (again, not recently in Seattle), Etric Pruitt, Mike Williams and probably a few others.
A few injury-related thoughts after returning from Arizona and taking a glance around the NFC West infirmary following Week 8:
- The 49ers have no immediate plans to place tackle Joe Staley or cornerback Nate Clements on injured reserve despite their at least moderately serious injuries. Depth in the secondary should be good enough to cover for Clements' absence. I have my doubts about the 49ers' offensive line without Staley. Opponents figure to fare better against backup Barry Sims once they have prepared for him. Also, it's reasonable to expect a veteran backup left tackle to get a team through a game or two. Starting week after week tends to expose weaknesses, particularly in a pass-protecting tackle. The Staley injury is unfortunate for the 49ers because their offense is otherwise showing promise -- perhaps enough promise to keep the pressure on Arizona.
- The Rams described left guard Jacob Bell's latest injury as relating to his neck. Bell has improved significantly this season largely because he's been healthier. This injury is a setback on that front. The Rams could be without both starting guard for their Week 10 game against the Saints. Backups Mark Setterstrom and Adam Goldberg have played well in those spots. The Rams might be able to weather this situation if rookie right tackle Jason Smith continues to improve. I'm going to watch the Detroit game more closely tonight, with an eye on Smith.
- The Seahawks somewhat miraculously made it through their latest game without suffering additional serious injuries. The team did release backup cornerback Travis Fisher, perhaps an indication the Seahawks feel good about Ken Lucas' ability to return from the shoulder injury he suffered Sunday. Cornerback Marcus Trufant's ability to get back through his first game back from injury might also have been a factor.
- The Cardinals did not immediately rule out receiver Anquan Boldin following his latest right ankle injury. That doesn't mean much this early in the week, however. League rules require teams to be forthcoming about injuries beginning Wednesday. Boldin has proven he can play through pain, so it's possible the Cardinals could wait until Saturday before making a determination. Boldin was obviously hurting after aggravating the injury Sunday. He initially allowed medical personnel to assist him while he walked. I saw Boldin walking through the locker room under his own power after the game. His right foot was bare as he walked.
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
Arizona: Kurt Warner needs the bye week to freshen up after taking too much punishment in the first three games. The bye should also help Chike Okeafor (shoulder), Steve Breaston (knee) and others feel better heading into the Cardinals' Week 5 game against Houston. Getting Matt Ware back from a shoulder injury could restore depth to the secondary. Ware's absence initially created confusion for strong safety Adrian Wilson, allowing the 49ers' Frank Gore to get open for an easy touchdown grab in Week 1.
San Francisco: The 49ers will miss Gore and they could consider relying a little more on quarterback Shaun Hill against the Rams. Offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye isn't going to abandon his run-oriented priorities, so expect plenty of rushes for bakckup Glen Coffee again this week. But if the ground game falters, Raye could be less stubborn in sticking with it than he would have been with the more accomplished Gore on the field. Gore is also a tenacious pass protector. The Rams lack dominant pass rushers, but they can be creative enough defensively to test Coffee's inexperience. This could be the week Brandon Jones becomes active for the first time since suffering a shoulder injury, giving the team another option for the three-receiver packages Raye uses on third down.
St. Louis: Quarterback Marc Bulger's absence might not mean much for a team with so few options at receiver now that Laurent Robinson is on injured reserve. Receiver Donnie Avery could have a hard time protecting his damaged ribs while sharing the field with Patrick Willis, who punishes wide receivers and knocked out Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck in Week 2. Quarterback Kyle Boller is more likely to run than Bulger, although keeping him healthy must remain a top priority. The Rams' secondary could suffer without safety James Butler, a veteran who knew Steve Spagnuolo's defense from their days with the Giants. Butler's absence could help the 49ers strike deep through play-action. I expect the Rams to struggle in pass protection with or without rookie first-round right tackle Jason Smith, who is working his way back from a knee injury.
Seattle: Hasselbeck and Walter Jones are like a mirage shimmering on the horizon, convincing the Seahawks life will soon be better. Neither will likely play against the Colts, though, and both will be missed. Seattle caught a break when the Colts lost top pass rusher Dwight Freeney to injury. Seahawks cornerback Josh Wilson could return from an ankle injury ahead of schedule. The team needs him badly. Replacement Travis Fisher struggled against the Bears. Putting him on the field against Peyton Manning would not produce desired results. Fullback Justin Griffith could return for this game. He's a big upgrade over Owen Schmitt and an important part of the running game. Seattle must run effectively to limit the Colts' possessions.
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
Holding out quarterback Matt Hasselbeck in Week 3 is the right call for the Seahawks.
This isn't a playoff game when the Bears visit Qwest Field on Sunday.
Seattle has injury-related question marks on its offensive line. The team could use a mobile quarterback, not a wounded one. Starting Seneca Wallace makes the most sense. Hasselbeck's official status Friday -- doubtful -- makes starting Wallace the smart choice.
Sean Locklear will not play and fellow tackle Walter Jones is questionable.
A look at the rest of the injury report for Seattle: Locklear, Leroy Hill and Josh Wilson are out; Hasselbeck, Lofa Tatupu and Justin Griffith are doubtful; Jones, Brandon Mebane and Ken Lucas are questionable; Deion Branch, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Travis Fisher and Chris Spencer are probable.
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
SAN FRANCISCO -- Seattle defensive tackle Brandon Mebane's calf injury will prevent him from playing against the 49ers, a significant loss for the Seahawks.
Seattle has good depth on its defensive line. Tackle Red Bryant, a good player, wasn't even active for Week 1. Bryant is active for this game at Candlestick Park.
Inactive for Seattle: Travis Fisher, Leroy Hill, Chris Spencer, Walter Jones, Deion Branch, Mebane and Michael Bennett. There was an extremely slim chance Jones was going to return for this game. I would have been quite surprised, however. Mike Teel is the third quarterback for the Seahawks.
Inactive for the 49ers: Marcus Hudson, Cody Wallace, Brandon Jones, Ricky Jean-Francois, Jason Hill, Ahmad Brooks and Curtis Taylor.
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams are 4-20 against NFC West opponents and 15-25 outside the division since the start of the 2005 season. Their only victories last season came against the NFC East. Thomas: "Amazingly, only four players on the current roster have experienced a victory over Seattle wearing a Rams uniform - (Leonard) Little, (Marc) Bulger, running back Steven Jackson and long snapper Chris Massey."
Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch offers keys to the Rams' season. One of them: "Be respectable against the run: Over the past three seasons the Rams have been plundered for 6,646 yards rushing. You could line up 11 toll booths and be more effective in slowing running backs."
Also from Miklasz: He does not give Bulger a pass just because the quarterback has taken lots of sacks in recent seasons. The Steelers' Ben Roethlisberger has taken more. Miklasz: "I realize that Ben likes to hang onto the ball, and he likes to fight off the rushers, so a percentage of the sacks are on him. But Bulger also holds onto the ball for too long -- for the wrong reasons. He’s got to be more decisive. If you listen to the Friends of Bulger, you’d think he’s the only QB in history to get hit in the mouth. Please." Roethlisberger is also built to withstand punishment. Bulger is smaller than the average quarterback.
Post-Dispatch staffers predict a close game when the Rams visit the Seahawks.
Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch checks in with David Vobora prior to the linebacker's second career regular-season start.
Also from Coats: Bulger took nearly all the snaps in practice Friday and will start against Seattle.
Steve Korte of the Belleville News-Democrat says the Rams aren't overly worried about their thin depth at receiver because tight ends Randy McMichael and Daniel Fells are good receivers.
Brian Stull of 101ESPN St. Louis provides audio from Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo on Bulger's availability.
Allen Rossum of the 49ers offers special-teams insights heading into the opener. Rossum: "One thing that their kicker Neil Rackers does well is that after he kicks the ball he goes down and covers. That’s a rarity in the NFL. As soon as you come through the hole, you see this guy sitting there and you’re not expecting him. Most of the time teams don’t have a blocker for the kicker. One time I hit the hole and he was standing right in front of me. That was a little different!"
Taylor Price of 49ers. com quotes linebacker Patrick Willis on the Cardinals: "It’s a new season. It’s a new start. It’s us or it’s them. That’s how we look at it. I don’t even look at them being the NFC champions. That’s what they were last year; to us they are just a team on our schedule."
Kevin Lynch of Niner Insider looks at Mike Singletary's decision to name Vernon Davis a team captain. Lynch: "Singletary raved about his work ethic throughout the off-season, saying Davis would catch passes for hours. Singletary said he'd get to work look out of his window and see Davis down on the practice field working on his receiving, then Singletary would go to lunch, go to a few meetings come back and Davis was still at it. At the veterans minicamp while players were struggling to go through their conditioning stations, Singletary wanted to cut the drills short, but Davis spoke up and said the team should finish what it started."
Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat offers thoughts on Davis and, separately, how the 49ers plan to deal with crowd noise in Arizona.
Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee notices which 49ers players Singletary did not identify as captains. Barrows: "Frank Gore, the epicenter of the offense, is not on the list, nor is cornerback Nate Clements. Shaun Hill, who as quarterback is ostensibly the face of the team, also is not a captain. Singletary picked the captains himself. They were not voted on by the team."
Daniel Brown of the San Jose Mercury News explains one reason Tony Pashos signed with the 49ers: "Right tackle Tony Pashos, who signed with the 49ers on Monday, did so in part because of his relationship with the Singletary. Pashos was drafted by the Ravens in 2003 when Singletary was Baltimore's inside linebackers coach. 'He had great leadership qualities,' Pashos said. 'You could tell it was a matter of time before he was a head coach.' "
Revenge of the Birds' Andrew602 looks at key matchups in the 49ers-Cardinals game.
Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic explains Anquan Boldin's thinking on whether to play with a hamstring injury. Boldin: "You don't want to risk getting injured and then being out four weeks. That would be stupid. It's a long season. It's only Week 1. I'd rather sit out game one as opposed to sitting out four or five other games."
Dan Bickley of the Arizona Republic says the Cardinals have become a major-league operation, lending credibility to the region's sports scene. Bickley: "You can bet the rent that sometime over the next four months, the Cardinals will make you fling the remote control across the room, just like old times. That's OK. No matter what happens during the 2009 season, there is a new game in town. It's called the NFL, and at long last Arizonans no longer are stuck with a gut-wrenching, penny-pinching, minor-league franchise designed to lose 10 games every year."
The Arizona Republic takes a position-by-position look at the Cardinals.
Darren Urban of azcardinals.com marks the eight-year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks by recalling what the Cardinals were doing at the time. They had been scheduled to play a road game against Washington the following week.
Greg Johns of seattlepi.com predicts a 10-6 record for the Seahawks this season. Johns: "That might sound overly optimistic, but having a healthy Matt Hasselbeck back leading the charge is huge. The passing attack will be potent and I foresee big years for John Carlson, T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Nate Burleson."
Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times says Ben Obomanu would be the Seahawks' fourth receiver if a hamstring injury sidelined Deion Branch.
John Morgan of Field Gulls sizes up the Seahawks' injury situation. Morgan: "Deion Branch has missed three straight practices with a hamstring injury and is 50-50 to play on Sunday. Derek Walker is likely to be deactivated, so his injury is of no concern. I doubt C.J. Wallace will play. That and the injury to Travis Fisher leaves Seattle thin in the secondary and thin at special teams. Nick Reed could be activated to bolster the special teams. If Fisher can't play, Seattle will be barred from a true Dime defense. I, for one, think Will Herring should pick up snaps in obvious passing downs."
Eric D. Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune says Branch's vow to play every game this season could be in jeopardy. Also: "Marcus Trufant, who the team put on the physically unable to perform list, was in the weight room working out on Friday."
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat says the 49ers denied Deion Sanders' claim that two teams reached out to the 49ers about possibly acquiring Michael Crabtree. "Those conversations never took place," a team spokesman said. Sanders said the 49ers "desperately" need Crabtree, and apparently he was serious. The 49ers are installing a power running game. They weren't counting on big things from Crabtree as a rookie anyway, realizing he would need time to get acclimated after rehabbing a foot injury for several months this offseason. Maiocco: "The deadline to trade an unsigned draft pick has passed for the league year. Even if Crabtree were to sign with the 49ers, the club would be unable to trade him until March 1. The 49ers would retain his rights up to the 2010 NFL draft."
Also from Maiocco: 49ers receiver Jason Hill wanted more chances during the exhibition season. Hill said he thinks there's a "strong possibility" the 49ers will release him. Hill: "Maybe the coaches don't like me or something. I don't know. I just haven't been getting enough reps. When I get reps, I make plays. I showed it last year when I get reps. When I get in a game, I make plays. I'm proving it on the field every time." One thing about wide receivers: It always seems to be about them.
More from Maiocco: Have the 49ers improved?
John Crumpacker of the San Francisco Chronicle says 49ers coach Mike Singletary is "very thankful" the exhibition season has ended.
Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says the 49ers' starters finished the exhibition season with one sack, a "dubious" one collected when JaMarcus Russell fell down.
Dan Brown of the San Jose Mercury News says 49ers coach Mike Singletary wasn't interested in addressing Sanders' claims.
Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch looks at what the Rams learned about themselves during the exhibition season. The defense did a good job forcing turnovers, but stopping the run appeared to remain a problem.
Also from Thomas: Adam Carriker's injured shoulder is not the same one he hurt previously. Thomas: "According to unofficial press box stats, Carriker had no tackles against the Chiefs in his preseason debut. Interestingly, Carriker wasn't re-inserted with the starting unit when he returned to practice in late August. (Gary) Gibson has continued starting in Carriker's spot at defensive tackle, and Carriker played with the second unit Thursday against KC."
Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Samkon Gado's uncertain injury status clouds the Rams' decisions at running back.
Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says the Cardinals could tweak their roster in the coming days. Somers: "(Leonard) Pope, due to make $1 million this season, fell out of favor with the coaching staff because he was not a strong blocker, and he had trouble grasping the nuances of the offense."
Also from Somers: Alan Branch fared well enough in spot duty at defensive end to stick on the roster.
Darren Urban of azcardinals.com runs through the team's roster moves as the 53-man limit approached.
Also from Urban: The Cardinals were willing to keep only six defensive linemen because Branch gave them versatility.
Eric D. Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune previews the Seahawks' cutdown decisions. Williams: "The team may decide to keep a fourth cornerback if Marcus Trufant (back) starts the season on the physically unable to perform list, which means he can’t return until the seventh game. If that’s the case, the Seahawks likely will make a decision between Kevin Hobbs and Travis Fisher."
Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com checks in with rookie running back Devin Moore. Farnsworth: "When given his most extensive stint of the preseason, the undersized Moore (5 feet 9, 191 pounds) came up big. He carried 22 times for 75 yards, including a 1-yard touchdown run, in the Seahawks’ 31-21 romp over the Oakland Raiders."
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
The Seahawks have a few tough decisions to make before reducing their roster to 53 players in less than three weeks.
The final spot or two at receiver remain unsettled. I see at least 10 defensive linemen worth keeping, but perhaps no more than eight offensive linemen. The final spots at all three general positions on defense -- line, linebackers and secondary -- could spur debate.
The Seahawks aren't even certain which kicker will earn a roster spot, opening possible trade scenarios for teams with needs at the position.
The chart provides a framework for how many players the Seahawks might keep at each position heading into the regular-season opener against the Rams.
Here's a quick look at which Seahawks players I might keep on the cutdown to 53 players:
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
RENTON, Wash. -- The Seahawks recently finished an extended practice session before fans at their facility on Lake Washington. A few notes and observations:
- Rookie receiver Deon Butler faked out cornerback Travis Fisher to the outside before making an easy catch on a slant.
- Veteran receiver Nate Burleson appears recovered from the ACL sugery he underwent less than a year ago. He moves well and doesn't appear hesitant when he cuts.
- Fullback Owen Schmitt had problems in pass-protection drills. He did not move quick enough laterally to make the block on the two plays I saw. Safeties Jamar Adams and C.J. Wallace beat him convincingly.
- Wallace picked off a Matt Hasselbeck pass intended for T.J. Houshmandzadeh. What seemed like a horrible lack of rapport between quarterback and receiver was actually a case of Houshmandzadeh being blinded by sun. Houshmandzadeh said he's still earning Hasselbeck's trust.
- I thought rookie tight end Cameron Morrah caught the ball very well, but my assessment was flawed. Morrah is wearing the No. 43 worn previously by fullback Leonard Weaver. I kept thinking Morrah's receiving skills were exceptional for a fullback. Morrah did beat safety Brian Russell in coverage.
- Russell continues to take the first-team reps at safety, ahead of Jordan Babineaux.
- Backup running back Justin Forsett caught a deep pass up the left sideline with Leroy Hill in coverage. Very nice play for a running back that far downfield. Later, Forsett dropped the ball on a screen pass in the backfield.
- Positive reports about new defensive end Cory Redding appear justified. He was a nightmare for offensive linemen in the pass-rush drills. Redding's weight is down, he appears healthy and he plays violently, as teammate Patrick Kerney put it. I gave Redding the edge in all three matchups against Mansfield Wrotto in pass-rush drills. He also pushed back tight end John Owens' head to make a positive play against the run in team drills.
- Overall, the Seahawks have the potential to be much bigger up front with Redding at left defensive end, Colin Cole on the nose, Brandon Mebane at right defensive tackle and Kerney on the right side. Kerney is bigger, too, but he'll cut weight as the season gets going. The Seahawks are limiting him in camp to avoid injuries.
- Left tackle Walter Jones appeared stiff while walking toward the field before practice. He hasn't practiced since suffering back spasms on the first day of camp.
- Second-year defensive end Lawrence Jackson had success rushing the passer against guards in the one-on-one pass-rush drills. He bull-rushed rookie Max Unger successfully on one play, then beat starter Rob Sims. Jackson also beat tackle Kyle Williams with an inside move.
- Darryl Tapp blew past Ray Willis for a would-be sack. Tapp is having a good camp, according to Kerney.
- The Seahawks are working on game situations earlier than in past seasons. That included a hook-and-lateral play featuring Houshmandzadeh tossing to Burleson. It's unlikely Seattle will use that play, Houshmandzadeh said, but if needed, they've practiced it.
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times says Lofa Tatupu was the Seahawks' player of the day Sunday. Defensive coordinator Gus Bradley: "He's really stepped up the last couple of days in training camp, and today he had quite a few plays he was making. I'll bet that he'll make a big jump now from here on out. Just because you see he has such a good understanding."
Also from O'Neil: Can the Seahawks fix what has been ailing their offensive line over the past three seasons?
Eric D. Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune says newly signed Seahawks cornerback Travis Fisher was a little rusty in his first practice, as one might expect. Also, T.J. Houshmandzadeh did something he almost never does: drop a pass.John Morgan of Field Gulls isn't expecting much from Fisher in Seahawks camp, giving him only an outside shot at competing for the dime role.
Greg Johns of seattlepi.com says retired Seahawks center Robbie Tobeck positioned his boat near the team's waterfront practice facility and heckled Walter Jones for missing practice to rest back spasms. Jones and Tobeck were very close as teammates. They used to smoke cigars and watch the Sopranos together on Sunday nights.
Clare Farnsworth of Seahawks.com says Matt Hasselbeck completed 10 of 12 passes to six receivers during the final two team periods Sunday.
Also from Farnsworth: Seattle got bigger in the middle of its defensive line.
Jim Trotter of SI.com predicts a 10-win season for the Seahawks after visiting their training camp. Seeing Jones without a knee brace following surgery could be a good sign.
Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Rams linebacker Chris Draft is fighting hard for a starting spot. Draft wants to stay in the middle, where he can make defensive calls, but rookie James Laurinaitis is expected to play there sooner than later.
Also from Coats: Ron Bartell, Leonard Little and Tye Hill are among those feeling the effects of training camp.
Jeff Gordon of stltoday.com offers a few observations from Rams camp. Gordon: "Fans attending the open session saw Jason Smith block through the whistle with great enthusiasm. He and Richie Incognito were one-upping each other on the right side of the offensive line, at the expense of their teammates on the other side of the ball. Although new nose tackle Hollis Thomas is in terrible physical shape, he proved stout on the other side of the line. He claims to be in the 'ballpark' of 340 pounds, but that is a huge ballpark."
Steve Korte of the Belleville News Democrat says Steven Jackson appears ready for training camp, as Steve Spagnuolo can vouch.
Also from Korte: The Rams set a physical tone as the new coaching staff watched closely.
More from Korte: Hilarious comments from center Jason Brown on his exchanges with quarterback Marc Bulger. A sampling: "Mainly it's him getting to know my rear end, and him being comfortable with his hands underneath my rear end. He's checking my oil every day."
Dan Brown of the San Jose Mercury News says 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis is a defensive leader at age 24. He isn't always a vocal one, however. Teammate Jeff Ulbrich thinks Willis can become the type of leader Bryant Young was for so many years.
John Crumpacker of the San Francisco Chronicle says receiver Brandon Jones has gotten off to a good start in 49ers training camp, catching a couple of deep balls.
Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says 49ers offensive lineman Alex Boone exceeded his expectations during pass-rush drills.
Also from Barrows: The 49ers are taking things slowly with tackle Marvel Smith, who has been sharing second-team reps at right tackle behind Adam Snyder.
Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News takes a closer look at the "nutcracker" drill Mike Singletary has implemented to foster toughness.
The 49ers' Web site provides video featuring Sunday practice MVPs Vernon Davis and Ahmad Brooks. Brooks is getting more prominent work while Parys Haralson recovers from injury.
Also from the 49ers: 30 photos from practice.
Taylor Price of 49ers.com says Josh Morgan's one-handed reception despite tight coverage from safety Dashon Goldson was easily the best play of training camp so far.
Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat says Davis leads the team in receptions during 7-on-7 drills.
Darren Urban of azcardinals.com says Ken Whisenhunt is excited about taking over play-calling duties on offense following Todd Haley's departure to the Chiefs. "I'll be a lot better than Todd," Whisenhunt joked.
Also from Urban: Larry Fitzgerald is leading by example.
Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic checks in with Cardinals rookie Greg Toler and Toler's older brother, who tried to provide guidance for his younger sibling.
Also from Somers: Beanie Wells says he is "definitely disappointed" about suffering an ankle injury during his first training camp practice. Wells: "I've been going through the injury thing quite awhile now, and [Saturday] was just a fluke. I don't think an ankle sprain is nothing too major. If I get on top of it, I think it will go away quickly."
More from Somers: a few notes, including one about how the secondary played well Sunday.
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
PHOENIX -- I'm about to board a plane from Arizona to the Bay Area for 49ers camp. I'll report from there Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday before heading to Seahawks and Rams camps.
Following up on the earlier item about the Cardinals' pass-rush drills, I forgot to mention that center Lyle Sendlein, coming off shoulder surgery, did participate. My notes show him battling nose tackle Bryan Robinson to a draw.
Along similar lines, I wanted to pass along a quote from Rams center Jason Brown about facing Adam Carriker and Clifton Ryan in practice.
Brown: "It's a love-hate relationship. Of course we are buddy-buddy off the field, but on the field we give each other the stares like, 'Yes, I'll see you in 9-on-7. I'm going to see you in the team period.' When it's on the field, it's all business."
DJS425, commenting on the item about the Seahawks signing Travis Fisher, wrote, "This better have nothing to do with Trufant." My response, direct but delivered politely: "Of course it has to do with Trufant, at least to a degree. He is not practicing. The team was already low on numbers in the secondary. So they signed a guy."
Drawing broader implications -- such as what Fisher's signing might mean for other defensive backs on the roster -- might be premature. Let's see how quickly Trufant returns, and let's see what coach Jim Mora says in explaining the move.
Finally, regarding Beanie Wells' injury situation: elijah2k7 pointed out that Wells missed only three games during his college career. flipdhart added, "Keep in mind he played injured many times. I have watched Buckeye games for years especially when I lived in Columbus and Wells wasn't 100 percent all the time. But I tell you what, if he is healthy, he is a beast. And if Wells can do what Adrian Peterson and Frank Gore did -- as in, get past their injury-prone college years -- then the Cards will have a solid running game for years."
Appreciate the context from people who know a whole lot more about Ohio State football than I ever will. Plane is boarding. Gotta go.