Marquise Blair, Justin Coleman cut, other surprises as Seahawks set initial 53-man roster

Clare Grant/The News Tribune/cgrant@thenewstribune.com

Rookie Coby Bryant’s recent move from cornerback to inside nickel back is real. For real games, that is.

Josh Jones’ surer tackling beat out oft-injured Marquise Blair’s poor tackling this preseason.

Only seven defensive linemen underline changed Seattle moving to more 3-4 schemes this season.

And inside linebacker is the team’s thinnest position, necessitating an imminent signing or move off the league’s waiver wire in the next day.

The Seahawks set their initial 53-man roster for the regular season by the NFL deadline to do so Tuesday. The surprises are Bryant beating out veteran nickel Justin Coleman so thoroughly Seattle just flat released Coleman, its best nickel DB against slot receivers the last decade, months after the team signed him back after years away.

Bryant was a starting cornerback early in camp. Then coach and former defensive back Pete Carroll moved Bryant to nickel inside in the middle of the month. The coach said he wanted to create more opportunities for the rangy, ball-hawking Bryant to make plays against slot receivers. He noted many NFL offenses now feature inside, slot receivers on third down than outside wide receivers.

With Coleman gone, Bryant will get the chance to play with fellow rookie cornerback Tariq Woolen. The equally impressive Woolen has been starting at right cornerback the last three weeks.

Not only did the “reborn” (his and Carroll’s word) Jones make Seahawks’ roster, he’s got them thinking playing more three-safety looks this season.

For long stretches of training-camp practices, Jones was in the starting defense with Quandre Diggs and Jamal Adams. That frees up Adams to play nearer the line of scrimmage, more in the role of the pass rusher he was while setting an NFL record for sacks by an defensive back for Seattle in 2020.

Blair, the team’s second-round draft choice in 2019, didn’t make them think that anymore. Just eight total games played because of season-ending injuries in each of the last two years didn’t help Blair, either. Releasing him saves the Seahawks $1.35 million, his scheduled base pay, against this season’s salary cap.

Jones had been cut four times in 2 1/2 years. He credits surgeons removing his thyroid for changing his life and career. It ended the debilitating fatigue and weakness he had early in his career, when he was an ineffective and eventually released second-round draft choice of the Green Bay Packers.

He couldn’t or wouldn’t eat. Normal, everyday tasks were huge challenges. His accelerated heart rate sacked him.

“Nobody knew it,” the 27-year-old safety told The News Tribune this month, when it was becoming apparent he was squarely in the defense’s plans for this season. “I didn’t even know where the thyroid was at, at the time.

“Dealing with that, that was a crazy thing, man.”

Wide receiver Freddie Swain, another former Seahawks draft pick, played his way off the team this preseason. Seattle made that fact official Tuesday.

If Dee Eskridge can finally stay healthy, he is the Seahawks’ extra, fourth wide receiver and punt returner Swain once was.

Veteran Marquise Goodwin is the third wide receiver behind DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett.

It was no surprise wide receiver J.J. Arcega-Whiteside did not make the team. Acquired this month from Philadelphia in a trade for defensive back Ugo Amadi, Arcega-Whiteside earned only practice-squad work in scrimmages since his arrival.

The Seahawks waived running back Josh Johnson with an injury designation. The running backs are lead rusher Rashaad Penny, rookie second-round draft choice Ken Walker, Travis Homer and DeeJay Dallas.

The team lists Nick Bellore as a fullback, but he’s been practicing and scrimmaging as an inside linebacker all training camp and preseason.

At the moment, Bellore is the only backup to starting inside linebackers Jordyn Brooks and Cody Barton in the new 3-4. That’s going to change this week. The first NFL waiver-claiming period ends Wednesday afternoon. Seattle’s active roster is likely to change then.

Myles Adams strong summer and preseason games earned him a spot on the defensive line. He didn’t take the spot of L.J. Collier, as it seemed he would.

One week after defensive coordinator Clint Hurtt was asked about Collier and said, “You can’t make the club in the tub,” the often-injured and ineffective Collier made the club.

He must have gotten out of the tub in time.

The Seahawks’ first-round pick from 2019 making it was perhaps the biggest surprise of the players Seattle kept Tuesday.

Collier’s recent injuries make it possible he goes on injured reserve to begin the season. That would clear a space on the roster to add a needed linebacker.

The Seahawks had rookie fifth-round draft choice Tyreke Smith join wide receiver Cody Thompson on season-ending injured reserve. Smith, a linebacker, barely practiced in training camp.

Players put on IR before or as the first 53-man roster is set are out for the season. Players put on IR after the initial 53 are set can return after missing a minimum of four games.

The only one of nine draft choices to not make the team is wide receiver Bo Melton. The sixth-round pick from Rutgers frustrated Carroll in the spring for being injured right after the draft and missing offseason practices. Then he dropped passes in training camp.

Melton and other waived players could return to the Seahawks on their practice squad. The team will set that after the first waiver period ends Wednesday afternoon.

As happens every year under Carroll, two more undrafted rookie free agents made the team: linebacker Joshua Onujiogu from Framingham State and safety Joey Blount from Virginia.

The Seahawks’ initial 53-man roster for the regular season (starters in bold):

Quarterback (2): Geno Smith, Drew Lock

Running back (4): Rashaad Penny, Ken Walker, Travis Homer, DeeJay Dallas

Wide receiver (6): DK Metcalf, Tyler Lockett, Marquise Goodwin, Dee Eskridge, Penny Hart, Dareke Young

Tight end (3): Noah Fant, Will Dissly, Colby Parkinson

Offensive linemen (9): Charles Cross, Damien Lewis, Austin Blythe, Gabe Jackson, Abe Lucas, Jake Curhan, Kyle Fuller, Stone Forsythe, Phil Haynes

Defensive linemen (7): Poona Ford, Al Woods, Shelby Harris, Bryan Mone, Quinton Jefferson, L.J. Collier, Myles Adams

Linebackers (8): Jordyn Brooks, Cody Barton, Darrell Taylor, Uchenna Nwosu, Boye Mafe, Alton Robinson, Joshua Onujiogu, Nick Bellore

Cornerbacks (6): Sidney Jones, Tariq Woolen, Coby Bryant, Artie Burns, Michael Jackson, John Reid

Safeties (5): Quandre Diggs, Jamal Adams, Josh Jones, Ryan Neal, Joey Blount

Specialists (3): Michael Dickson, Jason Myers, Tyler Ott