Seattle Seahawks

Seahawks’ two-deep roster: QB Wilson hits his stride, life without Lynch

Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson runs off the field following the Seahawks preseason NFL football win over the Dallas Cowboys Aug. 25.
Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson runs off the field following the Seahawks preseason NFL football win over the Dallas Cowboys Aug. 25. toverman@theolympian.com

2015 record: 10-6, second in NFC West, wild-card playoff entrant, lost divisional round at Carolina 31-24. 2016 predicted finish: 13-3, first in NFC West

*Starters in BOLD

QUARTERBACK

The skinny: Year five for Russell Wilson is time for his next evolution: “I want to be a master of (pass) protection,” he says. He needs to be. He’s behind a new line, and he needs to balance his sandlot, improvisational game that’s made him who he is against getting the ball out quickly to help his iffy blockers. That will be a season-long balancing act — and key to Seattle’s season.

Backup: After letting Tarvaris Jackson’s contract end in January, then waiting all spring and summer for a reason to sign a veteran, the Seahawks never got one from Trevone Boykin. So they go with the undrafted rookie from Texas Christian at No. 2. Then again, the Seahawks hope this remains a moot issue. Wilson has yet to miss a practice, let alone a game, in his four seasons.

No.

Name

Height

Weight

Year

Hometown/College

3

Russell Wilson

5-11

215

5

Richmond, Va./

Wisconsin, NC State

2

Trevone Boykin

6-0

213

R

Dallas/Texas Christian

RUNNING BACK

The skinny: Life without Marshawn Lynch begins. Last season, Thomas Rawls became the first undrafted rookie in NFL history with two games of at least 160 yards rushing. Then he broke his ankle and tore ligaments Dec. 13. After his first major surgery and a spring and summer recuperating, Rawls is back to begin a new era. And Seahawks coaches promise to run Rawls like they did Lynch from 2010-15.

The backups: Christine Michael is reborn. The team’s former second-round pick is finally worthy of coaches’ and teammates’ trust, after Seattle sent him to Dallas this time last year. The Seahawks drafted three rookies in case Michael wasn’t what he’s become. They need only two: Prosise for third downs to catch passes and Collins, the fifth-round pick. He needs to show he can pass block and be consistent.

No.

Name

Height

Weight

Year

Hometown/College

34

Thomas Rawls

5-9

215

2

Flint, Mich./Central Mich., Michigan

32

Christine Michael

5-10

221

4

Beaumont, Texas/Texas A&M

22

C.J. Prosise

6-1

220

R

Petersburg, Va./Notre Dame

36

Alex Collins

5-10

217

R

Ft. Lauderdale, Fla./Arkansas

45

Tani Tupou

6-1

284

R

Marysville/Washington

WIDE RECEIVER

The skinny: Doug Baldwin is the newly minted, $46 million man here. He’s coming off a franchise-record 14 touchdown catches last season, tied for the NFL lead. He may not get as many chances this season because this corps is deeper. Lakewood’s Jermaine Kearse surprisingly returned as a free agent this offseason. Wilson trusts Kearse from their days together in rookie minicamp in the spring of 2012, and Kearse tends to be best when the moments are biggest — especially in the playoffs.

Backups: The Seahawks will feature Tyler Lockett more this year. He will essentially be a starter in one-back, three-receiver sets. He’ll be all over the field inside and outside to get the ball to him so they can utilize the speed of their Pro Bowl kick returner. Paul Richardson’s return from two seasons ended by knee and hamstring injuries makes this the deepest top four Seattle has had at receiver for a while — if, that is, Richardson can finally stay healthy. Undrafted rookie Tanner McEvoy made the team as a 6-foot-6 option both outside and at tight end.

No.

Name

Height

Weight

Year

Hometown/College

89

Doug Baldwin

5-10

192

6

Gulf Breeze, Fla./Stanford

15

Jermaine Kearse

6-1

209

5

Lakewood/Washington

16

Tyler Lockett

5-10

182

2

Tulsa, Okla./Kansas State

10

Paul Richardson

6-0

183

3

Los Angeles/Colorado

19

Tanner McEvoy

6-6

230

R

Hillsdale, N.J./Wisconsin

TIGHT END

The skinny: The Seahawks had to keep four to begin the regular season because star Jimmy Graham may not be back from the first games from his knee surgery and third-round pick Nick Vannett has a high-ankle sprain. Graham’s effectiveness upon his return is no sure thing; his patellar-tendon tear is a tricky injury with a mixed precedent from players who have had it. When he does come back, look for a renewed effort to get Graham the ball inside the opponents’ 20-yard line.

Backups: Luke Willson returns as a fleet, wideout-like No. 2 — maybe No. 1 early in the season. Former Oregon Duck Brandon Williams made the team for his special-teams experience as much as for being a tight end.

No.

Name

Height

Weight

Year

Hometown/College

88

Jimmy Graham

6-7

265

7

Goldsboro, N.C./Miami

82

Luke Willson

6-5

252

4

Lasalle, Ontario/Rice

81

Nick Vannett

6-6

257

R

Westerville, Ohio/Ohio State

86

Brandon Williams

6-3

247

4

Merrionette, Ill./Oregon

OFFENSIVE LINE

The skinny: Will again be this team’s most scrutinized, most vulnerable unit. No team in the league spends less on its offensive line. Four starters — 80 percent of this unit — are new. Right tackle Garry Gilliam is the only returning starter in the same position, and he got switched from left tackle last month. New center Justin Britt is on his third position in three NFL seasons. He started as a rookie right tackle two seasons ago and left guard last year. Seattle signed Bradley Sowell from Arizona in the offseason expecting him to be a backup swing man. Now he’s the starting left tackle. The guards appeared to be the strongest part of this unit in the preseason. Mark Glowinski is powerful and athletic. A surprise to many as the first-round pick in April, Germain Ifedi was a star of training camp. He plows through defenders, even well after the whistle. He’s the mean streak this line needs. They came together more quickly than expected this summer. They need to do that again this fall and winter to maximize this offense’s capabilities.

The backups: Exactly how line coach/developer Tom Cable likes them. Young. Raw. Inexpensive. J’Marcus Webb is the only experienced backup. He has played left tackle for Chicago and right guard for Oakland, but he has only played right tackle since arriving in Seattle in March. George Fant played basketball in college. Hunt is shorter than most centers but rugged. If two of these reserves have to play extended time simultaneously, Russell Wilson will be running for his life again.

No.

Name

Height

Weight

Year

Hometown/College

78

Bradley Sowell

6-7

309

5

Hernando, Miss./Mississippi

63

Mark Glowinski

6-4

310

2

Wilkes-Barre, Penn./West Virginia

68

Justin Britt

6-6

315

3

Lebanon, Mo./Missouri

76

Germain Ifedi

6-5

325

R

Houston/Texas A&M

79

Garry Gilliam

6-5

315

3

Carlisle, Penn./Penn State

73

J’Marcus Webb

6-7

331

7

Fort Worth, Texas/West Texas A&M

74

George Fant

6-5

296

R

Bowling Green, Ky./W. Kentucky

53

Joey Hunt

6-2

299

R

El Campo, Texas/Texas Christian

70

Rees Odhiambo

6-4

315

R

Mansfield, Texas/Boise State

DEFENSIVE LINE

The skinny: Still searching for the depth it had when the Seahawks won the Super Bowl three seasons ago. Michael Bennett will be ultra-motivated by his complaints over wanting a new contract; another Pro Bowl will likely get him big bucks next spring. Fellow end Cliff Avril is overlooked but almost as disruptive. He’s spent much of the last two seasons in opposing backfields. When second-round pick Jarran Reed returns from a toe injury, he will likely start in departed Brandon Mebane’s old nose-tackle spot. He isn’t as much of a run-stuffer as an athletic disruptor who will get some tackles for losses. Ahtyba Rubin returns after being an important, dependable addition last season. When the defense goes to five defensive backs, look for a speedy line of Avril and Cassius Marsh outside, Bennett and Frank Clark as “tackles.”

The backups: Coach Pete Carroll says the defense didn’t use Clark enough last season when he was a rookie. So expect a featured rush role for him. He’s lost 15 pounds to get quicker in 2016. Tony McDaniel was a revelation in August. The starter on the 2013 Seahawks returned to the team after he was kayaking in Leavenworth last month and his agent called the team asking for a tryout since his client was already out here. Former starting tackle Jordan Hill is on injured reserve.

No.

Name

Height

Weight

Year

Hometown/College

72

Michael Bennett

6-4

274

8

Alief, Texas/Texas A&M

56

Cliff Avril

6-3

260

9

Green Cove Springs, Fla./Purdue

77

Ahtyba Rubin

6-2

310

9

Pensacola, Fla./Iowa State

90

Jarran Reed

6-3

311

R

Goldsboro, N.C./Alabama

93

Tony McDaniel

6-7

305

11

Columbia, S.C./Tennessee

55

Frank Clark

6-3

260

2

Cleveland/Michigan

98

Garrison Smith

6-1

310

3

Atlanta/Georgia

91

Cassius Marsh

6-4

245

3

Simi Valley, Calif./UCLA

99

Quinton Jefferson

6-4

291

R

Pittsburgh/Maryland

LINEBACKERS

The skinny: Bobby Wagner is motivated by talk around the NFL the former All-Pro slipped last year below the level of elite middle linebackers established by Carolina’s Luke Kuechly. Weak-side man K.J. Wright may be the team’s most consistent tackler and cover man, yet few outside Renton know how good he is. Veteran Mike Morgan has been in Pete Carroll’s defense for a decade, back to when Carroll recruited him to USC. Now he replaces departed free agent Bruce Irvin as the strong-side linebacker.

The backups: Brock Coyle is a special-teams fixture who can also back up Wagner, though when Wagner’s been out recently, Wright has gone to the middle. Kevin Pierre-Louis is the other special-teams player in this unusually shallow unit, after Seattle cut Eric Pinkins. Look for regular-season imports here.

No.

Name

Height

Weight

Year

Hometown/College

54

Bobby Wagner

6-0

245

5

Ontario, Calif./Utah State

50

K.J. Wright

6-4

246

6

Olive Branch, Miss./Mississippi St.

57

Mike Morgan

6-3

235

6

Dallas/USC

58

Kevin Pierre-Louis

6-0

230

3

Norwalk, Conn./Boston College

52

Brock Coyle

6-1

245

3

Bozeman, Mont./Montana

DEFENSIVE BACKS

The skinny: One year after the Cary Williams cornerback experiment failed, the secondary is stronger at the top. Jeremy Lane re-signed, and will get outside cornerback plays on early downs then go inside to his usual nickel spot on passing downs. DeShawn Shead will be the outside corner in nickel, which Seattle used 60 percent of the time or more in many games last season. Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas remain at the top of the league at their positions. This is a re-proving year for Kam Chancellor. He admits his 2015 holdout was a mistake, and his season suffered with injuries and inconsistency after it. He’s 28 now. How he covers tight ends will be a season-long watch.

The backups: The Seahawks have more safeties than a gun range. A cut-day trade with Oakland for Dewey McDonald brought special-teams help. Kelcie McCray arrived that way last year and is now a big special-teams player and has the team’s trust to fill in for Chancellor at strong safety. Undrafted rookie Tyvis Powell wowed this summer at safety, cornerback and on the kicking teams. DeAndre Elliott was a surprise to make the roster. Tharold Simon is on his fourth year and last chance. Steven Terrell returns for his multiple special-teams roles.

No.

Name

Height

Weight

Year

Hometown/College

25

Richard Sherman

6-3

195

6

Compton, Calif./Stanford

20

Jeremy Lane

6-0

190

5

Tyler, Texas/Northwestern St. La.

29

Earl Thomas

5-10

202

7

Orange, Texas/Texas

31

Kam Chancellor

6-3

225

7

Norfolk, Va./ Virginia Tech

35

DeShawn Shead

6-2

212

5

Palmdale, Calif./Portland State

23

Steven Terrell

5-10

197

4

Allen, Texas/Texas A&M

33

Kelcie McCray

6-2

202

4

Columbus, Ga./Arkansas State

27

Tharold Simon

6-3

202

4

Eunice, La./LSU

40

Tyvis Powell

6-3

211

R

Bedford, Ohio/Ohio State

21

DeAndre Elliott

6-1

189

R

Dallas/Colorado State

30

Dewey McDonald

6-0

220

3

Ranson, W.Va./California (Pa.)

SPECIALISTS

The skinny: Steven Hauschka has become one of the league’s best kickers, and from long range, too. Jon Ryan is the best he’s been. He had six punts of 60 or more yards in the first three preseason games. And he’s looked like his former “American Ninja Warrior” self, acrobatically fielding errant snaps from rookie Nolan Frese. Frese’s place-kick snaps are a concern, but he snaps well on punts and covers them impressively, too.

No.

Name

Height

Weight

Year

Hometown/College

4

Steven Hauschka

6-4

210

9

Needham, Mass./NC State

9

Jon Ryan

6-0

217

11

Regina, Saskatchewan/Regina

48

Nolan Frese

6-2

233

R

Roanoke, Texas/Houston

gregg.bell@thenewstribune.com; @gbellseattle

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