Sports Out West

Seattle Seahawks training camp storylines to watch

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The Seattle Seahawks are set to begin training camp on Friday, meaning plenty of intriguing questions will be answered over the next three weeks.

With depth accumulated through the draft under Pete Carroll and John Schneider, the Seahawks will have a number of roster battles to sort out in camp. Most of these battles will be for backup roles, but a couple of starting spots will also be decided.

Seattle also has a number of players with unclear roles to resolve before the start of the preseason. Training camp will provide numerous storylines and will be a crucial step towards resolving some of the questions facing the Seahawks in 2014.  

Position battles on both lines

The most intense battles for roster spots will be at both offensive and defensive line.

Seattle’s biggest question heading into the 2014 season is the offensive line. With Breno Giacomini departing in free agency, the starting spot at right tackle is wide open.

Michael Bowie and second-round pick Justin Britt split first-team reps at OTAs and will continue to battle for the starting right tackle position. A final decision won’t likely come until right before the season opener, but training camp should at least sort out the preseason depth chart.

Another interesting offensive lineman to watch in training camp is undrafted free agent Garry Gilliam. As a convert from tight end, Gilliam has tremendous athleticism to go along with his 6-foot-6, 306-pound frame. Gilliam might be too raw to start at tackle right away, but he could be called on later in the season should someone get injured or be ineffective.

On the defensive line, Carroll likes to use a large rotation of players. Michael Bennett will line up in multiple positions, with competition for snaps at defensive tackle and LEO behind him.

One of the biggest crunches for roster spots will be at defensive tackle. Tony McDaniel, Brandon Mebane and Kevin Williams should all make the team, but several talented tackles will be battling for limited spots.

The Seahawks have a number of sophomores at the defensive tackle position who will want to make an impact in training camp to earn a spot on the roster. Jordan Hill, Greg Scruggs and Jesse Williams all played sparingly due to injury last season but are talented enough to contribute in 2014.

Scruggs in particular seems poised for a breakout, as he has bulked up 25 pounds and has the athleticism to be a tough matchup.

The starting LEO spot could also be decided in training camp, depending on what the Seahawks decide to do with Cliff Avril. The LEO is critical to Seattle’s defense and the team will need a productive replacement for Chris Clemons.

Benson Mayowa and undrafted free agent Jackson Jeffcoat both have the ideal size and speed for the role. Rookie Cassius Marsh is also somewhere in the mix, although it seems like the team wants him to bulk up and move more to the interior.         

Wide Receiver health

Seattle will move on without Golden Tate in 2014 after he left for the Detroit Lions in free agency. The loss of Tate hurts, but Jermaine Kearse and Doug Baldwin are plenty good enough for the Seahawks offense to still be successful.

Still, the Seahawks have less depth than a season ago and will have to avoid injury. In particular, Percy Harvin will be counted on more so in 2014 and will have to prove he can stay healthy for an entire season.

Harvin said in March that he was in his best health since college. He will need to provide the Seahawks with the same kind of dynamic playmaking ability he showed both on offense and as a kick returner in the Super Bowl all season long.

In addition, there are some injury concerns about rookie Paul Richardson, the team’s first overall draft pick. Richardson has blazing speed and could be one of the few true deep threats on the roster.

Both will need to avoid any nagging injuries in training camp that could cause them to miss time in the regular season.

Terrell Pryor’s role

Seattle traded a seventh-round pick for Pryor in April, raising questions about what the team planned to do with him exactly. Training camp could provide a resolution to those questions.

The Seahawks announced that they intend to use Pryor only as a quarterback. If that is indeed the case, Pryor will be in a battle with Tavaris Jackson in training camp for the backup quarterback role.

However, Pryor also has a tremendous combination of size and speed and it would make sense if he had a few plays designed for him as a tight end. He could also simply be used as a Colin Kaepernick clone for the practice squad.  

Chris Matthews’ performance   

The Seahawks decided to draft Richardson even though it seemed like a big, physical receiver was their greatest need. However, they may have found that target by signing Matthews out of the CFL.

Matthews won the CFL Most Outstanding Rookie Award in 2012 after accumulating 1,192 yards and seven touchdowns. It’s hard to tell at this point how well Matthews will translate to the NFL, but he has the physical potential at 6-foot-5, 218 pounds.

Despite potentially filling a need, there’s no guarantee Matthews will make the roster. He will be in a training camp battle with players like Ricardo Lockette and Bryan Walters

Photo Credit: Ted S. Warren / Associated Press

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Nathaniel Reeves

Nathaniel Reeves is a journalism student at the University of Washington, currently covering sports for The UW Daily in addition to Sports Out West. He has been closely following Seattle sports his entire life.