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Seattle Seahawks: 2016 season preview

By Frank Cooney, The Sports Xchange   |   July 22, 2016 at 8:14 PM
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Although a song claims "Two out of three ain't bad," head coach Pete Carroll wasn't singing along last year when his Seattle Seahawks missed out on their third consecutive trip to the Super Bowl.

On July 29, he rolls out his 11th NFL training camp, seventh with Seattle, seeking a trip back to the league's annual finale after a 10-6 regular season left the Seahawks behind the Arizona Cardinals in the NFC West last year.

The always-enthusiastic, gum-chomping Carroll believes his 2016 team is reminiscent of the 2013 group that won a Super Bowl.

"I'm anxious to see how the thing rolls out," Carroll said. "There's a lot of competition all over the field. I could go across the board with it, really. I think it's going to be one of our most competitive camps. This is a chance for us to have a roster that reminds us of a couple years back and hopefully it'll play out that way."

Carroll welcomes 17 returning starters, including nine from a defense that was the league's best at yielding fewest points and second at giving up fewest yards.

But the Seahawks have questions and concerns to address in training camp.

For the first time since the opening month of Carroll's tenure in Seattle, there will be no Beast Mode. Marshawn Lynch will not be carrying the football for the Seahawks.

Thomas Rawls performed well in place of an injured Lynch last season, but Rawls is returning from a broken ankle suffered last December. Behind Rawls are Christine Michael and three draft picks - Notre Dame's C.J. Prosise (Round 3 No. 90 overall), Arkansas' Alex Collins (Round 5, No. 171) and Clemson's Zac Brooks (Round 7, No. 247).

The linemen blocking for the running backs and quarterback Russell Wilson are an unknown factor. All five positions on the offensive line have projected starters who did not start in those spots last year. Garry Gilliam, Mark Glowinski and Justin Britt have been moved around and Germain Ifedi and J'Marcus Webb are new additions to the line.

Seattle also needs to replace two starters on defense.

Bruce Irvin's departure this offseason (UFA, Oakland Raiders; $37 million, four years, $19 million guaranteed) leaves a hole in two areas for Seattle. Irvin was a starter at strong-side linebacker, but moved to the defensive line to rush the quarterback in passing situations. Mike Morgan appears to be the front-runner to replace Irvin at linebacker, but the replacement as a pass rusher is still unclear.

Second-round pick Jarran Reed (No. 49 overall, Alabama) is penciled in to replace Brandon Mebane at nose tackle after the nine-year veteran signed with San Diego this offseason ($13.5 million, three years, $5.5 million guaranteed).

Here is a closer look at the newcomers and key players and how they should factor into the Seahawks' 2016 team:

TRAINING CAMP SCHEDULE

SITE, LOCATION, ROOKIES, VETERANS

Seattle, Virginia Mason Athletic Center, Renton, WA, 7/29, 7/29

2015 RECORD: 11-7

DIVISIONAL RECORD: 3-3

COACH: Pete Carroll

7th season with Seahawks

68-40 overall; 8-4 postseason

11th season as NFL head coach

102-73; 9-6 postseason

STARTERS RETURNING:

17; 8 offense, 9 defense, kicker, punter

OFFSEASON STANDOUT: Wide receiver Kasen Williams.

--Williams shined in his second offseason with the Seahawks after signing as an undrafted free agent out of the University of Washington last year. Williams is now three years removed from the broken leg he suffered during his junior season at Washington and appears to be back to his old self. He has frequently made big plays and caught several touchdowns during OTAs and minicamp. He looks quicker and faster than he did a year ago and should push for a roster spot out of training camp this year.

NEWCOMERS

The draft -- A closer look at the Seahawks' picks (10):

--Round 1/31 -- Germain Ifedi, RG, 6-6, 324, Texas A&M

Seattle got the offensive line help they needed with Ifedi. After initially projecting him as a tackle, the Seahawks inserted Ifedi at right guard. The coaching staff has raved about his mental acuity and how quickly he's been able to absorb Seattle's system.

--Round 2/49 -- Jarran Reed, DT, 6-3, 307, Alabama

The Seahawks had a first-round grade on Reed and had been deciding between Reed and Ifedi for their choice with the 31st overall pick. With Reed still available midway through the second round, Seattle jumped on the chance to trade up and fill their need for a run-stopping defensive tackle.

--Round 3/90 -- C.J. Prosise, RB, 6-0, 220, Notre Dame

A former wide receiver, Prosise made the conversion to running back before his final year at Notre Dame. Seattle sees potential for Prosise as a third-down back that can be split out as a receiver in addition to being a quality runner in the backfield.

--Round 3/94 -- Nick Vannett, TE, 6-6, 257, Ohio State

Seattle saw Vannett as the only true "Y" tight end in the draft, capable of being a blocker and receiver. They've been looking for a similar talent since Zach Miller was lost to injury in 2014 and ultimately never recovered. He helps provide some insurance at the position with Jimmy Graham recovering from a torn patellar tendon and Luke Willson entering the final year of his contract.

--Round 3/97 -- Rees Odhiambo, G, 6-4, 314, Boise State

A tackle at Boise State, the Seahawks see Odhiambo as a guard prospect in the pros. General manager John Schneider said offensive line coach Tom Cable felt Ifedi and Odhiambo were the strongest linemen he'd been able to work with through the draft process. Odhiambo will compete with Mark Glowinski for the starting job at left guard.

--Round 5/147 -- Quinton Jefferson, DT, 6-4, 291, Maryland

The Seahawks traded a 2017 fourth-round pick and swapped seventh-round picks with the New England Patriots to jump back up into the early fifth round to grab Jefferson. More of a pass rusher than Reed, Jefferson will likely fit in as a rotational pass rusher for Seattle to compete with backup Jordan Hill.

--Round 5/171 -- Alex Collins, RB, 5-10, 217, Arkansas

One of just three running backs in SEC history to rush for 1,000 yards in three straight seasons along with Herschel Walker and Darren McFadden. A powerful runner that had a fumbling problem early in his tenure at Arkansas.

--Round 6/215 -- Joey Hunt, C, 6-1, 295, Texas Christian

A third offensive line selection in this draft, and sixth o-line selection over the last two years, Hunt is considered a heady player that is able to succeed despite somewhat lacking in physical tools. Hunt came to TCU as a defensive tackle before being converted to guard, and ultimately to center.

--Round 7/243 -- Kenny Lawler, WR, 6-2, 203, California

One of Jared Goff's top targets at Cal, Schneider said Lawler had "arguably the best hands in the draft." Lawler is a taller receiver that could become a red-zone target for Russell Wilson. Lawler was limited due to injuries in OTAs and minicamp.

--Round 7/247 -- Zac Brooks, RB, 6-0, 199, Clemson

Brooks was a top prep receiver before going to Clemson, where he moved to running back. Like earlier pick Prosise, Brooks has great hands and will likely project into a third-down back role for Seattle.

PLAYERS ACQUIRED

--CB Brandon Browner: Original Legion of Boom member returns to a situational role after two seasons away.

--DE Chris Clemons: Sacks leader on 2013 Super Bowl winners now back in a role as situational pass rusher.

--DT Sealver Siliga: With team briefly in 2013; returns with a chance to earn time as run-stuffing nose tackle.

--T Bradley Sowell: Started at left tackle for Arizona in 2013 and expected to compete with Garry Gilliam for that spot now.

--G/T J'Marcus Webb: A starter for the Raiders last year at guard; expected to take over at right tackle for Seahawks.

KEY LOSS: LT Russell Okung (13/13)*

--The No. 6 overall pick in 2010, Okung battled a slew of injuries. Still, he was the left tackle in the Super Bowl and now the team has to start over at a key spot.

OTHER LOSSES:

--T Alvin Bailey (15/3), RB Bryce Brown (3/0), TE Chase Coffman (2/0), DE Demarus Dobbs (11/0), LS Clint Gresham (16/0), OLB Bruce Irvin (15/12), RB Fred Jackson (16/0), QB Tarvaris Jackson (4/0), C Lemuel Jeanpierre (10/0), CB Jeremy Lane (6/2), RB Marshawn Lynch (7/6), TE Anthony McCoy (7/3), DT Brandon Mebane (15/15), G J.R. Sweezy (15/15), FB Will Tukuafu (14/1), DT Jesse Williams (0/0)*

Total games played/started lost: 169/70

*Number in parentheses is games played/games started in 2015

-- Frank Cooney, founder and publisher of The Sports Xchange and NFLDraftScout.com, is in his sixth decade covering football and 26th year on the Pro Football Hall of Fame Selection Committee. TSX's network of NFL insiders provided information for this report.

© 2016 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.

Jay Bruce: At least five teams interested in Cincinnati Reds slugger

By Alex Butler   |   July 22, 2016 at 5:52 PM
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CINCINNATI, July 22 (UPI) -- Despite nearly being traded from the team where he has spent his entire career, Jay Bruce has continued to produce for the Cincinnati Reds.

Bruce was the centerpiece of a trade between the Reds and Toronto Blue Jays this offseason. The trade was nixed and Bruce stayed put, due to a problem during the medical review for of one of the players involved.

On Friday, Jon Heyman of Todays Knuckleball reported that the Cleveland Indians, Texas Rangers, Blue Jays, and Washington Nationals are all interested in Bruce.

Heyman said the Nationals are "on the periphery."

"While Toronto has a top-five offense in baseball in terms of runs scored, a bat like Bruce's could be enough to vault the Blue Jays back to the top of the American League East, where they currently sit in third place, just one-and-a-half games behind division-leading Boston," Heyman wrote.

The 29-year-old has 19 home runs and 66 RBI, while hitting .263 in 89 games this season. He has a $12.5 million salary this season and a $13 million club option in 2017, with a $1 million buyout.

In his column titled "Why waiting to trade Jay Bruce is risky," the Cincinnati Enquirer's Zach Buchanan wrote: "Not trading him at the deadline leaves two months for Bruce's trade value to take a nosedive. He could get hurt. His performance could drop off significantly. After all, he's been a very streaky player in the past.

The Indians, Arizona Diamondbacks, Miami Marlins, New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, Minnesota Twins, Oakland Athletics, and Tampa Bay Rays are all on Bruce's no-trade list.

© 2016 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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