NFL camp opening: Seattle Seahawks cooking up surprise

By Curtis Crabtree, The Sports Xchange  |  July 29, 2017 at 10:18 PM
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RENTON, Wash. -- When the Seattle Seahawks reported for training camp here Saturday, the team confirmed rumors by celebrity TV chef Guy Fiere that the team had a surprise on the menu.

Fiere tweeted Friday morning that versatile Marcel Reece was returning to the Seahawks, with whom he played the final four regular-season games and the playoffs. Fiere, a well-known fan of the Oakland Raiders, befriended Reece when the player was with that team and last year they worked together on a video.

The team announced Saturday that it re-signed Reece.

Reece was a popular player at the University of Washington in 2006-07, when he was primarily a receiver. With the Raiders, he made the Pro Bowl while lining up as a fullback, tight end and even wide receiver.

After his release by the Raiders in September, Reece signed with the Seahawks in December after injuries diminished the team's fullback position.

On Friday, the Seahawks traded linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis to the Kansas City Chiefs in exchange for linebacker D. J. Alexander.

Alexander played mostly special teams for the Chiefs. He started at inside linebacker in the team's 19-17 loss to the Tennessee Titans in Week 15 last season following Derrick Johnson's season-ending Achilles injury.

"He was a good football player for us," Chiefs head coach Andy Reid said. "Gives him an opportunity up there."

When the team begins on-field workouts, a key battle will take place at cornerback, where the Seahawks are looking for somebody to start opposite talkative Richard Sherman.

With DeShawn Shead sidelined and probably headed to the PUP list with an ACL tear, Jeremy Lane will get significant playing time, either as an outside cornerback or slot option.

Rookie Shaquill Griffin could challenge Lane for the job, or at least take over on the outside in nickel situations so Lane can move inside. Neiko Thorpe, DeAndre Elliot and Mike Tyson could also challenge for roles as well.

THE FACTS:

TRAINING CAMP: Virginia Mason Athletic Center; Renton, WA

HEAD COACH: Pete Carroll

8th season with Seahawks

79-46-1 overall; 9-5 postseason

12th season as NFL head coach

113-79-1; 10-7 postseason

THE BREAKDOWN

2016 finish: 1st NFC West (10-5-1)

STATISTICS

TOTAL OFFENSE: 357.2 (12th)

RUSHING: 99.4 (25th)

PASSING: 257.8 (10th)

TOTAL DEFENSE: 318.7 (5th)

RUSHING: 92.9 (7th)

PASSING: 225.8 (8th)

2017 PRESEASON SCHEDULE

All times Pacific

Aug. 13, at L.A. Chargers, 5:00

Aug. 18, MINNESOTA (Fri), 7:00

Aug. 25, KANSAS CITY (Fri), 5:00

Aug. 31, at Oakland (Thu), 7:00

UNIT-BY-UNIT ANALYSIS

QUARTERBACKS: Starter -- Russell Wilson. Backups -- Trevone Boykin, Austin Davis.

Wilson returns from the first injury-plagued season of his career looking to rebound from his least efficient season as a pro. Davis brings veteran competition to the backup spot with Boykin, who held the reserve job a season ago.

RUNNING BACKS: Starters -- Eddie Lacy, Thomas Rawls. Backups -- C.J. Prosise, Alex Collins, Chris Carson, Mike Davis, FB Tre Madden, FB Marcel Reece, FB Kyle Coleman.

Lacy's addition expresses a desire by Seattle to regain its running roots, which were lost following Marshawn Lynch's departure. Staying healthy will be critical as Lacy, Rawls and Prosise all missed significant time due to injuries last year. Collins and Carson will be battling for final roster spots. Reece, Madden and Coleman will compete to become Seattle's new fullback.

TIGHT ENDS: Starter -- Jimmy Graham. Backups -- Luke Willson, Nick Vannett, Marcus Lucas, Tyrone Swoopes, Steve Donatell.

Graham set several franchise receiving records by a tight end last season with 65 catches for 923 yards. Willson returns as a trusted rotational player. Vannett looks to earn more playing time in his second season. Lucas, Swoopes and Donatell will have a difficult time cracking the roster.

WIDE RECEIVERS: Starters -- Doug Baldwin, Jermaine Kearse, Tyler Lockett. Backups -- Paul Richardson, Amara Darboh, David Moore, Tanner McEvoy, Kenny Lawler, Kasen Williams, Rodney Smith, Cyril Grayson, J.D. McKissic, Darreus Rogers.

Baldwin is Wilson's favorite target and became the first Seattle receiver to make the Pro Bowl in 17 years. Lockett is working to return from a broken leg suffered last December. Kearse had a down year last season and may be one of the few veterans on the roster in danger of losing his job in the preseason. Draft picks Darboh and Moore will be trying to create roles for themselves. Richardson had a strong conclusion to last season as he enters a contract year. Lawler, McEvoy and Williams will be in the mix for roster spots as well. Grayson is trying to return to football after being a track athlete exclusively at LSU.

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN: Starters -- LT George Fant, LG Luke Joeckel, C Justin Britt, RG Mark Glowinski, RT Germain Ifedi. Backups -- G/T Rees Odhiambo, G/T Oday Aboushi, C Joey Hunt, G/T Ethan Pocic, C/G Will Pericak, T Justin Senior, G Jordon Roos, T Robert Myers.

A young group returns looking for a leap in performance from last year. Joeckel and Aboushi were the only free-agent additions to the squad. Joeckel's addition likely kicks Glowinski from left guard to right guard (where he played as a rookie) and Ifedi from right guard to right tackle. Joeckel will also compete with Fant at left tackle. Pocic will battle Ifedi at right tackle after being selected in the second round. Odhiambo and Hunt pencil into reserve roles, with Roos and Pericak pushing them for spots.

DEFENSIVE LINEMEN: Starters -- LE Cliff Avril, DT Jarran Reed, NT Ahtyba Rubin, RE Michael Bennett. Backups -- DE Frank Clark, DE Malik McDowell, DE Marcus Smith, DE Cassius Marsh, DE Quinton Jefferson, DT Nazair Jones, DE Dion Jordan, DT Garrison Smith, DT Jeremy Liggins, DT Shaneil Jenkins, DE Tylor Harris, DE David Bass.

A strong defensive front returns intact, while the additions of top draft pick McDowell and third-round pick Jones bolster the group. Avril and Bennett lead the pass-rush unit with Clark, McDowell and Marsh expected to add diversity to the attack. Marcus Smith was signed after being released by the Eagles earlier in the week. There will be competition for the backup tackle spots with Jefferson, Jones, Garrison Smith and Liggins fighting for spots. Jordan is attempting to take advantage of a second chance after two lost seasons to injury and suspension, but another surgery in June has set back the efforts.

LINEBACKERS: Starters -- WLB K.J. Wright, MLB Bobby Wagner, SLB Michael Wilhoite. Backups -- OLB Terrence Garvin, MLB Arthur Brown, MLB Dewey McDonald, OLB Kache Palacio, OLB Otha Peters, OLB Ronald Powell.

The most change on the roster comes at linebacker with Mike Morgan and Brock Coyle no longer with the team. Morgan was a starting strong-side linebacker last season. Wilhoite is the favorite to earn that job moving forward. The depth options could be completely overhauled as free agent additions Garvin and Brown could usurp spots from Pierre-Louis, McDonald or others.

DEFENSIVE BACKS: Starters -- LCB Richard Sherman, RCB Jeremy Lane, FS Earl Thomas, SS Kam Chancellor. Backups -- CB DeShawn Shead, CB Shaquill Griffin, CB Mike Tyson, CB Neiko Thorpe, FS Bradley McDougald, FS Tedric Thompson, SS Delano Hill, CB DeAndre Elliott, CB Pierre Desir, CB Demetrius McCray, S Marcus Cromartie, S Jordan Simone.

Shead is still recovering from a torn ACL suffered last January, which creates uncertainty at cornerback. Lane, Griffin and Thorpe are the most likely candidates to receive that playing time opposite Sherman. The additions of McDougald through free agency, and Thompson and Hill through the draft, have overhauled the depth at safety behind Thomas and Chancellor. Elliott, Tyson and Desir will all be battling for roles as well.

SPECIAL TEAMS: K Blair Walsh, P Jon Ryan, LS Nolan Frese, LS Tyler Ott, KOR/PR Tyler Lockett.

For the first time since Pete Carroll's initial season in Seattle, the Seahawks will have a new kicker. Walsh is the only candidate on the roster to replace Steven Hauschka, who signed with Buffalo. Hauschka's inconsistency led to the Seahawks electing to move on, but Walsh has struggled recently as well in Minnesota. Frese and Ott will battle for snapping duties.

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