RENTON, Wash. -- While the rest of the NFL was able to begin their organized team activities this week, the Seattle Seahawks were unable to take part.
The Seahawks lost this week of practices last year after the NFL penalized the franchise for excessive contact in offseason practices. The league ultimately docked the Seahawks a week of OTAs and stripped away a fifth-round draft pick in last month's NFL Draft.
The play in question that brought about the penalties involved a wide receiver and cornerback colliding with each other while chasing a pass that left both players injured. After a review of the team's practice tapes, the NFL imposed the penalties against Seattle, leaving the Seahawks unable to begin the next phase of their offseason workouts until next week.
When they are eventually able to take the field, the two most poignant position battles will be seen on the defensive side of the ball.
One of the biggest areas of success for Seattle when it won Super Bowl XLVIII over the Denver Broncos was a ridiculously deep group of players on their defensive front.
Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett, who have both posted double-digit sack seasons since, were not starters on the Seahawks' championship team. With the selections of Malik McDowell and Nazair Jones in this year's draft, Seattle is hoping to create a similar group from a depth standpoint.
"We're upping our depth and making it challenging and competitive," head coach Pete Carroll said.
McDowell brings a pass-rushing threat that the Seahawks can utilize inside at the three-technique tackle spot in addition to being able to slide out to defensive end. Jones is much more a run-first player that will play a different role to McDowell but will likely line up in the same spots.
In addition to the defensive front, the selection of four new secondary players in the draft makes the back end of Seattle's defense a focal point as well.
Shaquill Griffin will potentially have the chance to compete for a starting job opposite Richard Sherman right out of the gate. Tedric Thompson and Delano Hill bring depth options at free safety and strong safety that could eventually push Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor for playing time. Mike Tyson is another cornerback that could play either on the perimeter or inside in the nickel.
While offensive lineman Ethan Pocic and receivers Amara Darboh and David Moore will jump into the competition right away as well, the desire by the Seahawks to get younger on defense with an aging group of core contributors will put the focus on that side of the ball early in Seattle's offseason workouts.