Here are five takeaways from Seahawks defensive coordinator Kris Richard's meeting with the media Wednesday.
Seahawks defensive coordinator Kris Richard met the media after practice Wednesday to preview Saturday’s preseason opener at Kansas City and review training camp so far. Here are five takeaways:
1. The strongside linebacker job remains wide open.
The race to replace Bruce Irvin at SLB appears to still be a three-player battle between Mike Morgan, Cassius Marsh and Eric Pinkins. The three have pretty much rotated getting work with the first team throughout camp, though it was Morgan who got the first reps in the base defense in the team’s scrimmage Sunday. Richard said Wednesday nothing has been settled saying “it’s up in the air” who will start against the Chiefs. “The competition has been progressing each and every single day,” he said. “All the candidates, they’re all true viable candidates. It’s a good problem to have and they’re going to make it really difficult for us to make the ultimate decision at the end.”
2. The battle for the right cornerback spot also remains something of a dead heat. Jeremy Lane and DeShawn Shead continue to battle for the other starting cornerback spot opposite Richard Sherman. In some ways, it’s a little bit of semantics since each figures to play in the nickel — Shead outside and Lane inside — which the Seahawks will likely play at least 60 percent of the time. But one or the other will get the call in the base defense, and that’s a spot that also has often traded off by day, if not by drill. Today, it appeared to be Shead going first with the base defense. Richard said the corner spot also remains wide open. “It’s remarkable how the SAM linebacker and the corner position is kind of unfolding, because really you could look at them both in the same,” he said. “There’s a lot of guys out there competing for that spot. I mentioned earlier in camp, but you got guys out there competing for Richard Sherman’s spot, too. It’s not a foregone conclusion. I think that’s the cool part about our team and our defense and everybody in general, they understand that you can’t rest on whatever happened last year. You got to come out and prove yourself every day.”
3. Brandin Bryant is continuing to show up. The 6-2, 289-pound undrafted rookie free agent has gotten a lot of reps lately with injuries to other defensive linemen and continues to make them count. Said Richard: “He’s an explosive defender. He’s got power, he can get up field, he can really be disruptive. We like the fact that he likes engaging in double teams, that’s a big part of what our defensive line needs to be ready to do, especially in our conference. We know who we’re facing each and every week, especially the guys in our conference and our division, and we need guys that can get in there and can take on double teams and create new lines of scrimmage.”
4. Kelcie McCray seems to have a lock on a backup safety spot. McCray, acquired during camp last year in a trade with Kansas City, is listed as a backup strong safety but has also gotten even more time at free safety during camp, and looks at the moment like he has a role as essentially Seattle’s third safety behind Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor. Said Richard of McCray: “Very impressed. He’s got tremendous value for our football team. Strong safety, free safety, he’s a core guy on our special teams, and we know he has the ability to start. He was able to start for us last year with just a little bit of time of training and being in our system and he did a really good job for us. He’s another guy, year two in our system, he understands what we need from him a little bit better, and he’s another guy who was able to pick it up, communicate more, and play faster.”
5. Tye Smith is making a run at keeping his roster spot. Second-year cornerback Tye Smith was on the 53-man roster all of last season but played in just three games, and only on special teams. With a deep cornerback corps, bolstered by the return to health of Tharold Simon, Smith is going to have to battle to keep that spot for another season. But he’s made a good case for himself lately, capped by Wednesday’s practice which ended with Smith picking off a pass from Jake Heaps over the middle. Smith is playing almost solely on the outside right now but coaches have said he could get some looks inside eventually. Said Richard of Smith: “He looks faster, which is always a good thing. Maybe the reason why he looks faster is that he’s not thinking as much. That can really be a real reason why. Year two in this system, he has experienced this game, he understands what we’re asking of him and he’s playing faster. That’s why he can look faster, because he’s playing faster.”