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Seahawks' roster is getting healthier

Eric Winston, Stephen Schilling and Greg Van Roten line up against Denver
Eric Winston, Stephen Schilling and Greg Van Roten line up against Denver
Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Little by little, the Seahawks are piecing together their offensive line.

After starting a mostly second-string unit in the preseason opener in Denver -- and largely struggling due to the incohesiveness -- they could have their entire starting five back Friday in Chicago.

Left tackle Russell Okung, coming off foot surgery, and center Max Unger (groin) should take their positions for the first time this preseason, coach Pete Carroll told 710 ESPN on Monday.

That would further bolster a unit that asserted itself behind guards J.R. Sweezy and James Carpenter against San Diego last weekend. The Hawks ran for 243 yards in a 41-14 win. Granted, a big chunk of that came from their mobile quarterbacks -- Russell Wilson, Terrell Pryor and B.J. Daniels ran for 99 yards and four touchdowns -- but Carroll thought the line took a step forward.

"We noticed during the week that the offensive line seemed to take a step ahead in terms of their aggressiveness," he said. "That's means they're feeling really good about their assignments. And it carried over exactly like it was in practice."

He was impressed by Sweezy and Carpenter.

"Our guards were really flying," Carroll said. "They really had an impact on the game. We were really fired up about that.

"I've never seen a guy have a more physical game than Sweezy," Carroll gushed. "He had a great football game in the half that he played. Had a bunch of dominant hits and finishing plays. He's looked like our top guy all throughout camp, and he really showed (vs. the Chargers)."

"One of the better preseason games I can ever remember us playing," he told reporters later Monday. "We had a very good day today and we want to keep this going all through preseason."

Here's a look at the roster after the two preseason games:

QUARTERBACK
Keep:
2-3
Locks: Russell Wilson, Tarvaris Jackson
Contender: Terrelle Pryor, B.J. Daniels
Situation: The quarterbacks largely showcased their feet vs. the Chargers, with Wilson running in for two scores, Pryor sprinting around the left side for a 44-yard TD and Daniels also scoring on a short run. Pryor ran the ball almost as many times (three) as he threw it (he was 1 for 4), so the Hawks still don't have a good bead on his passing ability in games. But Carroll said he has "been great in practice. He hasn’t had as much opportunity yet as we’d like to see. The games have just gone in a manner that he hasn’t had to (throw the ball). But he throws the ball really well. He’s a terrific downfield thrower; he's got a big arm. He’s made a lot of big plays for us against the (Seahawks' defensive starters) and done a lot of good stuff so we feel very confident."

Pryor probably won't get to play much, if at all, Friday in Chicago because Jackson will get the second-team snaps after Wilson plays into the third quarter. Pryor's last chance to make the team will come in the final preseason game. At this point, it is hard to see Jackson losing out to Pryor, so it really comes down to Pryor having to beat out the fifth running back, third tight end, sixth receiver and/or 10th lineman. Pryor seems to have the kind of upside the Hawks like, so they probably will try to find a way to keep him -- even though there is no guarantee he will stick around after this season.
Roster prediction: Wilson, Jackson, Pryor

RUNNING BACK
Keep: 4-5
Locks: Marshawn Lynch, Robert Turbin, Christine Michael
Contenders: Derrick Coleman, Spencer Ware, Kiero Small, Demitrius Bronson
Situation: Turbin continues to hold fast to the No. 2 spot. He ran for 81 yards on 12 carries against San Diego, including a 47-yard romp that -- gasp! -- was not called back. Michael did fine behind the resurgent line, too, gaining 45 yards on eight carries. But he also fumbled again. "He made some great cuts," Carroll said. "We’re just disappointed that the ball got away from him again, but he looks like he’s very assertive, very decisive and he looks quick. He looks very explosive." Both fumbles have been caused by defenders getting lower than Michael and jarring the ball loose. Carroll said that is hard to simulate in practice and is not likely to happen often during the season, but he stressed to Michael that he has to protect the ball better in those situations. The Hawks typically go with five backs, but it is possible they keep just four and stash a couple on the new 10-player practice squad.
Roster prediction: Lynch, Turbin, Michael, Coleman

TIGHT END
Keep:
3
Locks: Zach Miller, Luke Willson
Contenders: Cooper Helfet, RaShaun Allen, Morrell Presley
Injured reserve: Anthony McCoy (Achilles)
Situation: Three of the top four receivers vs. the Chargers were tight ends, reminding everyone that the Hawks have a very well-rounded offense. Don't sleep on Miller and company.
Roster prediction: Miller, Willson, Helfet

WIDE RECEIVER
Keep:
5-6
Locks: Percy Harvin, Doug Baldwin, Jermaine Kearse, Paul Richardson
Top contenders: Kevin Norwood, Ricardo Lockette, Bryan Walters, Phil Bates
Other contenders: Arceto Clark, Chris Matthews, Kevin Smith, David Gilreath
Injured reserve: Taylor Price (knee)
Situation: The Hawks ran so well and scored so often that the receivers didn't get a lot of work vs. the Chargers. But two things stood out: (1) The Hawks plan to get Harvin the ball as quickly as possible to activate his speed and (2) Walters is trying to make himself as valuable as possible in an attempt to win a spot at a very competitive position. Harvin caught a team-high four passes and, even though he gained just 31 yards, looked ready to pop one almost every time. Walters returned three kicks for 73 yards and two punts for 33 yards, reminding everyone that he is capable of helping out in many ways. It seems unlikely that the Hawks would put Norwood (foot surgery) on short-term IR; his injury might not qualify anyway (must be a six-week injury).
Roster prediction: Harvin, Baldwin, Kearse, Richardson, Norwood, Walters

OFFENSIVE LINE
Keep:
9-10
Locks: LT Russell Okung, LG James Carpenter, C Max Unger, RG J.R. Sweezy, OT Justin Britt, OL Alvin Bailey, C Lemuel Jeanpierre, OT Eric Winston
Contenders: OG Stephen Schilling, OT Wade Smith, OL Caylin Hauptmann, OL Greg Van Roten, OT Garry Gilliam, OT Cory Brandon, OG Nate Isles, OG C.J. Davis
Situation: The line was vastly improved in the second game and looks like it could have all five starters back this week. The hope then is that they remain healthy and continue to improve together into the season. Meanwhile, the Hawks are working on versatility, with Winston on the left side and Bailey on the right. The ninth spot will certainly go to a player who can man more than one position, with Schilling leading a group that includes Smith and Van Roten. There is plenty of sentiment for Gilliam to make the roster, but he seems destined for the practice squad.
Roster prediction: Okung, Carpenter, Unger, Sweezy, Britt, Bailey, Jeanpierre, Winston, Schilling

DEFENSIVE LINE
Keep: 9-10
Locks: Michael Bennett, Cliff Avril, Brandon Mebane, Tony McDaniel, Kevin Williams
Top contenders: Greg Scruggs, Jordan Hill, Benson Mayowa, Cassius Marsh, O'Brien Schofield
Other contenders: Jackson Jeffcoat, Michael Brooks, D'Anthony Smith, Jimmy Staten, Andru Pulu
Injured reserve: Jesse Williams (knee)
Situation: Schofield seems close to locking down a roster spot. He had one of the team's five sacks and hit the QB four times. On top of that, he has special-teams value. "He’s really on it," Carroll said. "He’s giving everything he’s got to make the club, and he’s making a great statement about doing that." Mayowa, who might be fighting Schofield for a roster spot, had a sack as well. Carroll said Jeffcoat "is still in transition" and "working real hard to figure it out," which makes it seem like he is a prime candidate for the practice squad. If the Hawks keep nine defensive backs, as they typically do, they might go with just nine linemen. In that case, either Hill or Mayowa would seem to be the odd man out. With Bruce Irvin able to rush the passer, too, an extra tackle seems more likely.
Roster prediction: Bennett, Avril, Mebane, McDaniel, K. Williams, Scruggs, Hill, Marsh, Schofield

LINEBACKER
Keep:
7
Locks: K.J. Wright, Bobby Wagner, Malcolm Smith, Bruce Irvin
Top contenders: Mike Morgan, Brock Coyle, Kevin Pierre-Louis, Korey Toomer, Heath Farwell
Other contenders: Horace Miller, Marcus Dowtin
PUP: Bruce Irvin (hip)
Injured reserve: Mike Taylor
Situation: Smith and Toomer (now off PUP) returned to practice Monday and might be able to play Friday. Wagner might be able to return next week. Irvin could return in the next two weeks, Carroll said. Meanwhile, rookies Coyle and Pierre-Louis saw a lot of action vs. the Chargers. Coyle shared the team lead with eight tackles, and Carroll said Coyle is improving and could start a real game if necessary. Pierre-Louis had five tackles and showed his speed in coverage as well. If Irvin returns to practice, it would mean the Hawks don't plan to keep him on PUP, and that probably would spell trouble for Toomer or KPL. Because Toomer spent his first two seasons on reserve lists, he is eligible for the practice squad.
Roster prediction: Wright, Wagner, Smith, Morgan, Coyle, Pierre-Louis, Irvin

CORNERBACK
Keep:
4-5
Locks: Richard Sherman, Byron Maxwell, Jeremy Lane, Tharold Simon
Contenders: A.J. Jefferson, Akeem Auguste, Phillip Adams, Michael Dobson, Thomas Wolfe
Situation: Simon is having an eventful preseason. In Denver, he was ejected after striking an opponent in the head. Against San Diego, he returned an interception 105 yards, but the officials errantly (by the league's admission, per Carroll) flagged him for illegal contact. With Jefferson out, Simon seems to have a lock on the fourth spot. Carroll said he has been very consistent in practice and has done well covering the deep pass as he fights to be a top sub. Carroll loves his cornerbacks, so it seems very likely he will keep five, per usual, and Jefferson seems to be the leader despite an ankle injury that might keep him out for the rest of the preseason.
Roster prediction: Sherman, Maxwell, Lane, Simon, Jefferson

SAFETY
Keep: 4
Locks: Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor, Jeron Johnson, DeShawn Shead
Contenders: Terrance Parks, Eric Pinkins, Steve Terrell
Non-football injury list: Eric Pinkins (foot)
Situation: Terrell tied for the team lead with eight tackles vs. San Diego, but he also blew a coverage on a touchdown pass. Chancellor (hip) is expected back Friday in Chicago. This group is pretty much set.
Roster prediction: Thomas, Chancellor, Johnson, Shead

SPECIAL TEAMS
Keep: 3
Locks: P Jon Ryan, LS Clint Gresham, K Steven Hauschka
Situation: Hauschka nailed a 55-yard field goal, showing just how far he has come over the past two years (in 2012, he would have missed that kick). Carroll seems locked in on Thomas as the punt returner, but Walters showed he could be a very capable backup at both return spots.