Here are five Seahawks who will be particularly intriguing to watch against the Dolphins on Sunday.
Here are five Seahawks’ players I’m particularly curious to watch in the team’s season opener Sunday against Miami, in no particular order.
RB Christine Michael: This is not Michael’s first start — he had two in the regular season last year and another in the post-season. But where those all basically came when Michael was the only option, this one feels earned. True, Thomas Rawls is coming off an injury and his carries will be monitored, and that plays a role in why Michael is starting. But it also seems like Michael is getting the start also as a nod to the kind of off-season and preseason he had. Within a week or two, Rawls figures to have no limitations. For this week, Michael has a chance to show that his impressive preseason (when he had 157 yards on 26 carries) has some real substance, as well as carve out even more of a permanent role for the rest of the season.
CB Jeremy Lane: No, this has nothing to do with what may happen before the game. Instead, I’m curious to see exactly how the Seahawks use their cornerbacks not named Richard Sherman (well, maybe Sherman, too, to see if they move him around at all to cover Jarvis Landry). Lane is Seattle’s starting nickel. But throughout most of the preseason DeShawn Shead has been the other starting outside corner, with Lane coming in for nickel situations. But how the Seahawks use Shead and Lane could also be a matter of weekly matchups. Nickel is obviously a valuable role, on the field two-thirds of the time these days, if not more depending on the opponent. But the Seahawks undoubtedly expected that Lane would take the right cornerback job and run with it when they re-signed him to a four-year, $23 million deal in the off-season. Instead, that role could be going more to Shead. Sunday will reveal some answers on that.
LB Mike Morgan: Morgan is scheduled to get what will be just the third start of his career, having earned the strongside linebacking spot that opened when Bruce Irvin signed with the Raiders. Don’t expect Morgan to have the same kind of role Irvin did, of playing SLB in base downs and then serving as a rush end in passing downs. Morgan is likely to be used mostly in base downs with guys like Frank Clark and Cassius Marsh filling in as a rush end. Still, it’ll be interesting to see exactly how they use Morgan and how he performs in what is his first chance in his sixth NFL season to be a full-time starter.
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RG J’Marcus Webb: Webb is expected to start at right guard for injured Germain Ifedi, a position he played for 13 games last season for the Raiders before ending the year at right tackle — where the Seahawks expected he would play this year. Instead, he’ll now team on the right side with Garry Gilliam to form a pretty massive wall on that side — Webb is listed at 6-7, 331 and Gilliam at 6-5, 315. The inside trio of offensive linemen had been one of the highlights of the preseason, and it’ll be critical for the Seahawks to keep that flow going with Webb now playing in place of Ifedi while going against a Miami defensive line that has some big names who may still be capable of producing big, as well.
TE Jimmy Graham: Pete Carroll said Friday that Graham will play. He will undoubtedly be eased in, maybe getting 15-20 snaps or so at the most. Assuming all goes well with Graham physically, then in a week or two the conversation can begin to shift back to how the team is using him — a debate that dominated the 11 games he played last year. For this week, simply getting back on the field for the season opener is a victory for Graham and the Seahawks.