(Photo by: Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images Sport)
By: Trevor Williams, Sports Radio KJR
It’s hardly Monday Night Football, however, on Thursday, football fans will get what they’ve awaited for many torturous months: An NFL football game.
The result of the game will not matter four weeks from now (or a few days from now, really), but for the first time since February, the 12th Man will come alive once again as the Seahawks begin working toward what many hope is a Super Bowl season.
Don’t expect to see the big names you’ve grown accustomed to for more than a drive or two. But get ready, because if we’ve learned one thing from Seahawks training camp, it’s that the Seahawks have great depth and there are many young players that fans have the right to be excited about.
Before leaving for San Diego, Seahawks Head Coach Pete Carroll said, “It’s huge for these guys. We’ve evaluated them in practice and now it comes to game time. Things change sometimes and we have to get to the truth. Who are these guys? What are they all about? Where do they fit in and how can we utilize their talents?”
Who These Guys Are
We all know who Russell Wilson, Richard Sherman, and Marshawn Lynch are, but after those guys get their reps, who are some of the players fans will be seeing under the lights tonight?
#33 Christine Michael – Rookie – Running Back—5’10, 221lbs
One of the Seahawks most exciting young running backs is rookie, Christine Michael. Michael was drafted by the Seahawks out of Texas A&M University. He has been turning heads at camp as a powerful, but quick running back who could have Marshawn Lynch-esque potential. Michael averaged 5.28 ypc (yards per carry) over his career at A&M. He has told members of the media that he watches Marshawn Lynch highlight tapes before going to bed.
Quotable: “He’s going to get a load. He’s going to get the football (and Spencer [Ware] and Derrick [Coleman] too). They’re going to be a regular part – you’re not going to see Marshawn as much.“ – HC, Pete Carroll
#7 Tarvaris Jackson -- 8th Season – Quarterback – 6’1, 225lbs
#10 Brady Quinn – 7th Season – Quarterback -- 6’3, 235lbs
These two gunslingers have name recognition. The former starters find themselves in a battle to backup Russell Wilson during the 2013 season. Jackson is favored in the QB competition because of his mobility, however, Quinn will be eager to try to make an impression on the Seahawks fans and coaching staff, Thursday.
Quotable: “Tarvaris is one of the toughest guys in the NFL. He’s complete to me. I’ve got nothing bad to say about Tarvaris.” – Leroy Hill – source: Clare Farnsworth, Seahawks.com
“I’m just excited to get out there, get the ball in their [receivers] hands and see what they can do.” – Brady Quinn – source: Clare Farnsworth, Seahawks.com
#17 Chris Harper – Rookie -- Wide Receiver – 6’1, 234lbs
Harper is one of MANY receivers who could be highlighted on the Seahawks roster. He is a rookie, drafted out of Kansas State. Harper is well-known for being a sure handed target who eclipsed 1,500 receiving yards in his 39 games at Kansas State. He is in a fight for the fifth receiver spot on the depth chart with Phil Bates, Perez Ashford, Arceto Clark, Brett Swain, Bryan Walters, and Stephen Williams. As you can see, Harper is one of many to keep an eye on this week.
Quotable: “Chris has been really solid. He’s running fast, he’s a very smart kid. He has improved right in front of our eyes. He is doing a good job and we expect him to get the ball in this game and do some things. There are really no restrictions on him.” – HC, Pete Carroll
#52 Allen Bradford – 3rd Season – Linebacker – 5’11, 235lbs
Bradford is one of the Seahawks ongoing “projects.” The one-time running back now strikes fear into opposing workhorses while flying around at the linebacker position. Bradford is yet to record a defensive stat line in the NFL, however, Pete Carroll believes he could be an exciting player with great potential on the defensive side of the ball.
Quotable: “It is a really big opportunity for Allen. This has been a long term project with Allen since we transitioned him from running back. Way back in the day, he was one of the best high school players in the nation (playing both ways) and he was a great defensive player. Now is his time.” – HC, Pete Carroll
#95 Benson Mayowa – Rookie – Defensive End – 6’3, 252lbs
Mayowa, who was once referred to by Pete Carroll as “The kid from Idaho” is now on a first-name basis with his head coach. Mayowa has impressed coaches with his strength and tenacity during camp and they are anxiously awaiting to see if that tenacity transfers into live-game situations.
Quotable: “He’s shown an unusual knack rushing the passer. So far, he’s been very impressive. We don’t know what that means at this point, we haven’t gotten him in enough live situations. But every day he’s made a play of some sort to gain some recognition. So we’re kind of hopeful to see what that means.” – HC, Pete Carroll – source: Clare Farnsworth, Seahawks.com
#97 Jordan Hill – Rookie – Defensive Tackle – 6’1, 303lbs
Jordan Hill has impressed many Seahawks coaches and scouts throughout the 2013 preseason. Doug Farrar, a football analyst for SI.com mentioned that he could see Hill developing into a guy who can be a part of the defensive line rotation. “He could get 5 sacks and 15 pressures,” said Farrar. Hill was drafted out of Penn State and is good at “getting skinny” on the defensive line, according to Seahawks coaches.
Quotable: “He could get 5 sacks.” – Doug Farrar, Sports Illustrated
What These Guys Are About
It’s hard to know what playing philosophy each individual Seahawk holds. However, Pete Carroll made his expectation clear about what he wants to see (in terms of tempo) from his team. “It better be hard-knocking, running, full-speed, flying!” said Carroll.
The Seahawks team motto is to “Always Compete.” You can bet players up and down the depth chart will be putting that motto on display, Thursday.
“These guys have waited all year to get back to football. They’re looking forward to their chances to play. We’re going with the starters. They’re going to get out there and get going. Expect to see us go. We’re going to go out and try to play football our style. We’re going to play fast on offense and fly around on defense and special teams. Because you did something last year doesn’t mean anything about this year,” said Carroll.
Where They Fit In
Heading into Preseason: Week 1, it is sometimes hard to know where players “fit in” the Seahawks system. Here’s what to expect, so far:
Christine Michael and Jordan Hill are probably the early favorites in terms of rookies slated to make an immediate impact with the Seahawks first-units. Jordan Hill could become a rotational defensive lineman and Christine Michael could be a budding Marshawn Lynch. These two players might fit in as change-of-pace players with the starting offensive and defensive units.
The big, “where do they fit in?” question lies in the special teams. With Percy Harvin starting the season with an injury, the head kick-returning spot is wide open in Seattle. Golden Tate seems to be the favorite to return punts on Sundays, however, when returning kickoffs on Thursday, Pete Carroll announced fans can expect to see Christine Michael, Jeremy Lane, Will Blackmon and Golden Tate.
Other players have been involved in the special teams battle during camp, but it looks like Thursday’s touches will be limited to Michael, Lane, Blackmon, and Tate. It will be exciting to see where these guys fit in and if they can show the explosiveness that Leon Washington once brought to a dangerous Seahawks return game.
How We Utilize Their Talent
The most important way to utilize the plethora of talent on the Seahawks roster is to preserve some of it for Week 1, when the games start counting.
Pete Carroll said, “At this time, we’ll take the stance on if we think guys need rest, we’re resting them. If we think they need a break, we’re breaking them. It’s just so early that we can do that.”
While the Seahawks will be cautiously protecting players’ health throughout Preseason: Week 1, don’t expect the battles further down (and at the top of) the depth chart to slow down. These Seahawk players are ready to hit somebody else for a change and show what they can do on the main stage. Pete’s right. After Week 1, we should start to have a much better idea on how to utilize individual players’ talents.
There is only one predictable thing about the Seahawks (and the entire NFL’s) 2013 preseason. It will be unpredictable!
This is where the fun begins! So, huddle around the television with friends, family, and fellow football fans because tonight will be the night where players begin to make themselves known and the real storylines surrounding training camp will begin to take shape.
Here we go Seattle! Football is back. All that’s left to do is sit back, watch, and enjoy!
7pm (6:30 pregame)