5 Storylines to Follow During Seattle Seahawks Training Camp
Head coach Pete Carroll and the Seattle Seahawks proved that they were a force to be reckoned with in 2012. From a 7-9 team in 2011 to an 11-5 playoff team last year, Seattle has been a team on the rise. The Seahawks managed to end their 2012 campaign on a five-game winning streak and an 8-0 home record.
With a stout defense (fourth in total defense) and effective run game (third in NFL), led by Marshawn Lynch, Seattle made their presence felt throughout the NFL. Despite the improvement, the Seahawks got their wings clipped by the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC Divisional championship game, 30-28.
The 2013 season is about a month away and training camp is in full swing. Camp is the time where teams bring along rookies and fine tune the details of offensive and defensive schemes. If the Seahawks plan to continue their recent success they can't be satisfied with the strides they made last season. The NFC West division is slowly becoming one of the most competitive divisions in the NFL next to the NFC East.
The San Fransico 49ers showed they are a great team by making it to the Super Bowl last year on the arm and legs of Colin Kaepernick. Jeff Fisher and his St. Louis Rams oddly proved to be the best team in the division going 4-1. The Rams are only getting better especially with their first-round pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, Tavon Austin. The Arizona Cardinals even made great moves acquiring veteran quarterback Carson Palmer and defensive end John Abraham.
With young talent like Russell Wilson, Bobby Wagner and Earl Thomas, the Seahawks are moving in the right direction. They have a chance to make it deep into the playoffs or even get a chance to play for the Lombardi trophy.
Here are five storylines to follow and keep up with throughout the Seahawks' training camp and preseason.
Bruce Irvin's Four Game PED Suspension
2012 first-round pick Bruce Irvin was suspended mid-May for four games due to the use of PEDs. Irvin is a primary pass rusher for Seattle who gathered eight sacks and one forced fumble last season.
With the Seahawks focusing mostly on their offense and interior defensive line (DT Jordan Hill) in the 2013 NFL Draft, Irvin's suspension won't seem to be an easy fix for Seattle. Somebody will have to step up and fill the void for four weeks.
The Seahawks play the 49ers and Houston Texans in the first four games this season where Irvin's presences could of been very beneficial. But they also play the Carolina Panthers and Jacksonville Jaguars, which are two good winning opportunities.
Irvin seems to be adding himself to the list of a recent problem for Seattle. This is the sixth PED related suspension for Seattle under Carroll.
Percy Harvin out 3-4 Months
The newly acquired free agent Percy Harvin has to go under the knife and have hip surgery, which will sideline him for up to week 13 of the 2013 NFL season. The Seahawks had high expectations for the ex-Minnesota Vikings wide out, but injuries keep putting his career on hold.
In four seasons in the NFL, Harvin has only played in 16 games one time. Harvin was going to help Seattle in the return game and help them stretch the field by being another toy for second-year standout Russell Wilson. The Seahawks put up 30 points per game last season, but only averaged 178 passing yards per game.
Harvin got $25.5 guaranteed and won't touch the field for 3-4 months. At the time of the trade, Seattle seemed like they got a steal, but now they are kicking themselves for losing that first-round pick. The pick could of been used on Vikings' rookie Cordarrelle Paterson.
A Golden Opportunity?
With Percy Harvin out 3-4 months, the Seahawks need somebody to step up and make plays. Sidney Rice continues to battle injuries as well, which is nothing new. Other players on the team have to take this as a golden opportunity to take the "next man up" approach and make their presence known.
Last season, Golden Tate was the Seahawks second leading receiver with 45 receptions, 688 yards and seven touchdowns. Tate will have to continue to improve in his fourth season with the team to help carry the load for the injured receiving corp.
Look for rookie Chris Harper, a 6'1'' wide out from Kansas State, to get a chance to make a name for himself as well.
Is Richard Sherman the Real Deal?
Richard Sherman's big ego and big mouth have put his great play in the spotlight this past season. The 6'3'' Stanford University stand out had a great season recording eight interceptions, 64 tackles, three forced fumbles and a defensive touchdown.
Sherman is making a case that he is one of the NFL's best at the cornerback position. With his long arms and good speed, he makes it hard for opposing offenses to throw the ball on him. Sherman also even challenged Darrelle Revis as the best corner in the game on Twitter.
Will Sherman continue to improve and become one of the NFL's greats or will he be a one-hit wonder and fall off?
Can Russell Wilson Avoid the Sophomore Slump?
Russell Wilson exploded on the scene last year and helped make the Seahawks a playoff team. After being drafted in 2012, Wilson was not expected to start because of the signing of Matt Flynn. But Wilson proved to be the better quarterback through camp and it obviously showed why throughout the season.
Last year Wilson threw for 3,118 yards, 26 touchdowns and completed 64 percent of his passes. Wilson was also Seattle's second leading rusher with 489 yards and four touchdowns.
Wilson was arguably the best rookie quarterback in 2012. But the big question in 2013 is if he will be able to avoid the infamous "sophomore slump." Cam Newton was a great player his rookie season but seemed to have hit his slump his second season and has been pretty average since. Wilson will have to work hard to take the Seahawks back to the playoffs.