Seattle Seahawks 2013 Training Camp Preview
Tennessee Titans 2013 Training Camp Preview
Arguably no team in the NFL is as loaded with young talent on both sides of the ball as the Seattle Seahawks. A franchise lacking quality personnel and direction when it hired head coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider in 2010 now has an embarrassment of riches thanks to a slew of key contributors on rookie contracts and a third-round quarterback (contract) leading the squad.
This has kind cap situation allowed Seattle to really splurge on acquisitions this year — the crowning jewel being Percy Harvin. The ex-Minnesota Vikings wideout led the league in broken tackles by a wide receiver last year despite only playing nine games. At one point before he was injured, Harvin was dominating MVP conversations. His ability to stay healthy isn't vital to this Seahawks offense, but could certainly help improve Russell Wilson's production from good to elite — especially if the two continue developing chemistry in Seahawks training camp.
Another critical health factor lies with "Leo" edge rusher Chris Clemons, who recovers from a torn left meniscus and knee ligament suffered in last season's wild-card playoff win. The perennial Seahawk sack leader is the only proven consistent pass-rusher the team possesses.
“The doctor says he is in great shape, he’s ahead and all of that. He’s worked diligently to get there,” Carroll said about Clemons in minicamp this offseason, via the team website. “You guys ask if he’s going to make it by the first game. I don’t know that. But he has a chance. And if it can happen, he’ll make it happen.
"Like I said the whole time, we’ll not rush that. We’ll take our time the whole time on that and make sure he’s right. The doctors are greatly confident and he is also, and we’ll start playing him whenever that happens.”
This just one of many storylines surrounding Seattle during training camp.
Wilson is the undoubted starter here after overtaking Matt Flynn in training camp last year. His solid rookie regular season was followed up by an incredible postseason, slinging four second-half touchdowns and 385 yards in the divisional round loss at the Georgia Dome. It will be interesting to see if Seattle incorporates more read-option concepts as they did down the stretch in 2012. Tarvaris Jackson and Brady Quinn vie for the backup role.
Marshawn Lynch has bruised opposing defenses plenty plenty since coming to Seattle, totaling 636 carries over the past two seasons. Lynch only seemed to get stronger — as evidenced by his six broken tackles in the wild-card win — but Seattle would be wise to not overwork him. Seattle drafted Christine Michael to join Robert Turbin in what should shape out as an excellent RB depth chart one-through-three. Michael Robinson and rookie Spencer Ware compete at fullback.
Wide Receiver/Tight End
I don't think I'm overstating by saying that Seattle could give Denver a run for their money for best receiving corps in the league when evaluating the entire top four and starting tight end. Percy Harvin, Golden Tate, Sydney Rice and Doug Baldwin complement each other incredibly well and this could truly be a terrifying four-receiver set. Harvin and Tate can both make things happen at the of scrimmage while hitting a few deep, and Rice can really rip the top off of opposing defenses. Zach Miller really managed to come in the postseason last year, rookie fifth-rounder Luke Willson is the frontrunner to replace Anthony McCoy as TE No. 2.
Seattle doesn't boast as complete an offensive line as the San Francisco 49ers, but has a comparably physical one. Center Max Unger earned first-team All-Pro honors in 2012 while left tackle Russell Okung didn't allow a sack all year. Paul McQuistan, John Moffitt, James Carpenter and J.R. Sweezy battle for the two starting guard roles. Slot incumbent Breno Giacomini in at right tackle.
Until Clemons gets healthy, I think Seattle finds ways to trot out their ideal front four of Michael Bennett, Cliff Avril, Red Bryant and Brandon Mebane often. Bryant typically slid out as the run-stopping ying to Clemons' yang last season, but Seattle will now seek creative ways to work free agents Bennett and Avril into the mix often. Jaye Howard, Jordan Hill, Clinton McDonald and rookie Jesse Williams will fight for the lion's share of the interior snaps that remain.
Bobby Wagner gave Lavonte David and winner Luke Kuechly a great run for Rookie Defensive Player of the Year in 2012. KJ Wright moves over to the strongside and gives Seattle a formidable 1-2 LB punch. My guess is Seattle moves to far more use of nickel packages and decreases the snaps for a third linebacker, though Malcolm Smith, Michael Morgan, Korey Toomer and Heath Farwell will battle for first in rotation. Bruce Irvin will likely get another shot as a end-backer-hybrid situational edge-rusher after serving his four-game suspension.
Cornerbacks Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner coupled with safeties Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor already formed the NFL's best starting secondary, and now adds the perfect fit for nickel corner in Antoine Winfield. Seattle can rock primarily this nickel package, and that's a scary thing. Walter Thurmond, Jeremy Lane and rookie Tharold Simon provide solid depth.
Harvin is arguably the league's most dangerous force with ball-in-hand and it seems wise to utilize him in all return duties barring injury, especially after Seattle cut Leon Washington loose. Kicker Steven Hauschka and punter Jon Ryan both return with little chance of losing their gig.