Roster Analysis: Seattle Seahawks

The SportsXchange

Here is a close look at the Seattle Seahawks as they head into their season opener against the Carolina Panthers Sunday, 1 p.m. ET.

UNIT-BY-UNIT ANALYSIS:

QUARTERBACK: Starter - Russell Wilson. Backup - Tarvaris Jackson.

The Seahawks are paying at total of $1.45 million for Wilson and Jackson in base salary this season, the lowest amount of any quarterback room in the league. The inexpensive salary for the two quarterbacks allowed the team to spend more on players like Percy Harvin and Kam Chancellor. Wilson believes he will avoid a sophomore slump in his second season by continuing to work hard and rely on the things he did well as a rookie.

RUNNING BACKS: Starter - RB Marshawn Lynch, FB Derrick Coleman. Backups - Robert Turbin, Christine Michael, Spencer Ware.

Veteran fullback Michael Robinson was a surprise cut, although his $2.5 million base salary made him a target. The Seahawks got a cheaper alternative in second-year pro Coleman. Although Michael looked good in preseason action, Turbin remains the No. 2 back behind Lynch because of his overall knowledge of the offense. Pete Carroll remains bullish on the hard-charging running style of Ware.

TIGHT ENDS: Starter - Zach Miller. Backup - Luke Willson.

The Seahawks decided to go with two tight ends this year. Seattle did add training camp tight end Cooper Helfet to the team's practice squad. Willson, a fifth-round draft choice out of Rice, was impressive during preseason. Along with effective speed to threaten the seams of a defense in the passing game, Willson also showed he can be an effective blocker in the run game.

WIDE RECEIVERS: Starters - Sidney Rice and Golden Tate. Backups - Doug Baldwin, Jermaine Kearse, Stephen Williams. PUP - Percy Harvin (hip).

Look for Golden Tate to step up and fill the role the Seahawks had pegged for injured Harvin. Tate will be a player Seattle looks to get out in space and make defenders miss in the pass game. Rice did not play during preseason because of a nagging knee issue, but is expected to start the season opener at Carolina. Kearse was perhaps the most impressive receiver in camp, and has a skill set similar to Victor Cruz of the New York Giants.

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN: Starter - LT, Russell Okung LG, Paul McQuistan C, Max Unger RG, J.R. Sweezy, RT, Breno Giacomini. Backups - C/G Lemuel Jeanpierre, G Alvin Bailey, G/T Mike Person, G James Carpenter, T Michael Bowie.

Listed conservatively at 6-5 and 321 pounds, James Carpenter could be the key to Seattle's offensive line playing at an elite level. The only question mark for the University of Alabama product is a significant one - can he stay healthy? Carpenter finally got on the field for the team's last exhibition game after nursing a sore foot for two weeks. When healthy, Carpenter's slated to start at left guard next to left tackle Russell Okung, replacing Paul McQuistan to give Seattle a road-grating left side of the offensive line similar to the days of Walter Jones and Steve Hutchinson.

DEFENSIVE LINEMEN: Starter: DLE, Red Bryant, DLT, Tony McDaniel NT, Brandon Mebane DRE, Cliff Avril. Backups - DT, D'Anthony Thomas, DT, Michael Bennett, DT Jordan Hill, DE Benson Mayowa, DE O'Brian Schofield, DE Chris Clemons.

The Seahawks traded for Thomas from Jacksonville to add depth to a defensive front dealing with several nagging injuries. Clemons is expected to return to practice for the first time since ACL knee surgery in January. Seattle's leading sack man the past three seasons, Clemons should be ready for game action after a couple weeks of practice.

LINEBACKERS: Starters -- WLB K.J. Wright, MLB Bobby Wagner, SLB Malcolm Smith. Backups - WLB/SLB Mike Morgan, MLB Heath Farwell, WLB Allen Bradford, WLB John Lotulelei. Suspended list: Bruce Ivin. Non-Football Injury list: Korey Toomer.

Former USC linebackers coach Ken Norton Jr. kept three of his former Trojans in Morgan, Smith and Bradford - a converted running back. Wagner finished with a team-high 140 sacks last season. And Wright moves from SAM linebacker to WILL, freeing the Mississippi State product up to make more plays in open space. Lotulelei is a big hitter and force on special teams.

DEFENSIVE BACKS: Starters -- LCB Richard Sherman RCB Brandon Browner SS Kam Chancellor FS Earl Thomas. Backups - CB, Byron Maxwell, CB Walter Thurmond, SS Jeron Johnson, FS Chris Maragos, CB Jeremy Lane.

Veteran Antoine Winfield was a surprise cut here, but Walter Thurmond outplayed him on the field. The Seahawks also like the depth behind Thurmond in Lane and Maxwell, who also are both good special teams players. With new defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, expect the Seahawks to play more man coverage this season.

SPECIAL TEAMS: K, Steven Hauschka, P, Jon Ryan KOR, Jermaine Kearse PR, Golden Tate LS, Clint Gresham.

Kearse earned the starting kick return job on the basis of his 107-yard kick return for a score against Denver. Hauschka made three field goals beyond 50 yards during the preseason, including a career-long 56 yarder. Gresham beat out Kyle Nelson in a competition for the starting long snapper job in training camp.
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