Organized Team Activities are now complete for teams around the NFL, meaning the Seattle Seahawks will now turn their attention to mandatory minicamp beginning on Tuesday.
The minicamp is only three days, but there will be plenty of things to watch from the defending champions. OTAs gave the Seahawks several interesting storylines leading up to the 2014 season, and minicamp will be the first true step in resolving some positional battles and roster questions.
Marshawn Lynch has been dominating the headlines, but he will be just one of many players to watch over the next three days.
The Lynch situation
As reported last week by Yahoo, the Seahawks aren’t expecting Lynch to appear at minicamp this week. This may not be a huge deal, as Lynch has skipped team activates before, but he has never missed a mandatory camp and the team can fine him nearly $70,000 if he does not show up.
It appears that Lynch is holding out because he is unhappy with his contract. Lynch is due $7.5 million this year, making him the fifth-highest paid running back in the league, although you could certainly argue he has played better than anyone at his position other than Adrian Peterson and LeSean McCoy.
The Seahawks are poised to move on from Lynch following this season, so it’s a possibility that Lynch is trying to get as much out of the final big payday year of his career. Lynch is due $9 million next year, but the Seahawks only take a cap hit of $1.5 million if they release Lynch. He will be 29-years-old during the 2015 season and no team in the league will likely be willing to pay Lynch that much.
Hopefully, the two parties will find a way to resolve the situation so Lynch can finish his Seahawks career on good terms. In any case, Lynch will be the dominant story of minicamp. A report this week even stated that Lynch would consider retiring if no new deal is reached.
Is Christine Michael ready to step into a larger role?
If this is indeed Lynch’s last year in Seattle, Michael will have to step up into the starting role in 2015 and beyond. While we will need to see Michael receive some meaningful playing time before knowing if he’s up to the task, he certainly has the raw talent to develop into an outstanding running back.
Michael stood out at OTAs, looking very explosive for his size and dangerous in the open field. In the limited time we’ve seen Michael in preseason and briefly during the regular season last year, he showed flashes of his tremendous athletic ability.
The thing keeping Michael from being used more was his lack of pass protection, which he has had an entire offseason to work on. Minicamp will provide Michael with an opportunity to show his improvement and prove he should be the primary backup running back ahead of Robert Turbin.
How will the Seahawks use Terrelle Pryor?
Since the Seahawks traded a seventh-rounder to the Oakland Raiders for Pryor a month ago, there’s been a question of what his role will be. The team has said he was coming in strictly as a quarterback, but Pryor would have to stand out in the preseason to have any shot at beating out Tarvaris Jackson for a roster spot.
According to a report by Danny O’Neill of 710 ESPN Seattle, Pryor had a “breakthrough” at OTAs. That could mean that he has a reasonable chance to win the backup quarterback spot, but you also have to think that the team is trying to find other ways to use Pryor’s tremendous athletic ability.
The Seahawks could be planning to use Pryor as a sort of Colin Kaepernick clone in practice, or dial up some gadget plays with Pryor as a receiver. A chance to have Pryor, Russell Wilson and Percy Harvin on the field at the same time is certainly intriguing. Minicamp might be the first time we see what, if anything, the Seahawks have in mind for Pryor.
The right tackle position battle
There are a few battles for roster spots on both sides of the ball, but the closest individual position battle is at right tackle. Michael Bowie and Justin Britt split snaps with the first team at OTAs and will continue to compete for the starting position.
Britt was considered a reach by many in the second round, but he has impressed Tom Cable and the rest of the Seahawks coaching staff so far. He also has the versatility to play guard, which means Bowie and Alvin Bailey would battle for position on the tackle depth chart.
This positional battle will likely last deep into the preseason, so minicamp will only be one small step towards resolving it.
Who will emerge on the deep defensive line?
Last year, the Seahawks had a deep and talented rotation at defensive end. This year, defensive tackle looks to be the deep position, despite the losses of Red Bryant and Clinton McDonald in the offseason.
The Seahawks didn’t necessarily need Kevin Williams, but added him last week for even more depth. Jesse Williams and Jordan Hill, sophomores who played sparingly in 2013, were also featured heavily in the rotation at OTAs. Greg Scruggs has also put on nearly 25 pounds while rehabbing a torn ACL.
Tony McDaniel and Brandon Mebane are also still here, and Michael Bennett will occasionally line up at defensive tackle. Not all of these players will make the team, so some will have to stand out over the rest of the preseason to earn a spot.
Photo Credit: Elaine Thompson / Associated Press
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