With roster cuts looming soon, here are some Seahawks players with potentially a lot on the line in their final preseason game Thursday in Oakland.
It’s the game most in the NFL just want to get over with as quickly as possible except for those involved, who might wish it would last forever.
With new NFL rules meaning there is now just one cutdown day, the Seahawks will have 37 players on their roster for Thursday’s preseason finale who won’t be official members of the team a day and a half later — some of whom may never step foot on a football field again.
Maybe, coach Pete Carroll says, one of those players will do something in this game to open a few eyes that hadn’t been opened before and extend their NFL dream.
What the game will also allow is one last chance for the Seahawks to evaluate players who are battling not just for a roster spot but for a specific role with the team.
“It’s really important,’’ Carroll said. “We’re going to play guys hoping to get guys opportunities to do stuff so they can have a chance to show. Really that’s what we’re dedicated to as a staff is to get guys in the right position so that they can show their stuff and in this final evaluation opportunity in the end so it’s certainly going to make a difference there.”
Here are a few players who will be particularly intriguing to watch Thursday night in Oakland:
QB Trevone Boykin
Boykin seemed to have the backup QB job locked up after solid performances in the first two games. Then he went 0-6 with an interception and a 0.0 passer rating against the Chiefs while Austin Davis threw a touchdown and had a perfect passer rating. Carroll cautioned after the game not to read too much into one performance noting how Boykin had played earlier and during practices. But he also said this week that nothing has been decided. “It’s a great battle for us and these guys have been going out every day out here, so we will add all of that together and figure it out,’’ Carroll said. “But we are going through this game. We don’t know what we are doing yet.”
CB Pierre Desir
Desir, who started six games for the Browns in 2014, has appeared to quietly rise up the depth chart at cornerback, opening coach’s eyes with a few big plays in preseason games. But corner is a pretty competitive spot — Desir likely has to beat out Neiko Thorpe, a special teams standout who signed a two-year contract in the offseason — to get a roster spot. “He’s got a tremendous coverage ability and really he’s got a great, fantastic attitude,’’ defensive coordinator Kris Richard said this week of Desir. “He’s done everything that we’ve asked of him and he shows up at the big moments. Rarely ever out of position, which has been a really good sign.’’
DL Marcus Smith
Smith played substantially last week with the starting defense, mostly as a rush end, but he can also play strongside linebacker. The team is intrigued by the potential that got him drafted in the first round by the Eagles in 2014 and seem to be looking for reasons to keep him around. “I think what he has done he has shown and flashed a fantastic athlete out there,’’ Richard said.
WRs Kasen Williams/Tanner McEvoy/Amara Darboh
The three could be competing for one final roster spot at receiver, or maybe two — it’s a little hard to see all three making it. Williams was a star of the first two preseason games but had just one catch last week while McEvoy was reeling in a touchdown late. Both have shown good signs on special teams. Darboh has yet to catch a pass on three targets in just 12 snaps. But his status as a third-round pick would make a hard decision to give up on him this early. Carroll said this week that Darboh will play a lot and the Seahawks will be looking for some validation of the decision to take him where they did at No. 106 overall. However, the chances of all three to make it could increase greatly if the Seahawks are really able to trade Jermaine Kearse, as an ESPN report Wednesday night said the team is attempting.
[ Report: Seahawks trying to trade Jermaine Kearse » ]
RB/WR J.D McKissic
McKissic has played both receiver and running back in camp and at the moment appears to be more of a running back, specifically working as a third-down back last week. He also has been the primary kickoff and punt returner with Tyler Lockett yet to play. That McKissic can handle returns has been thought as a possible entrée onto the roster, as well as his ability to back up at both receiver and running back. But Carroll said Wednesday that he expects Lockett to be back for the opener against Green Bay and handle returns. If so, the team may need to see enough from McKissic as a receiver and running back to feel they need to keep him on the roster. Like the three mentioned above, McKissic’s odds of making the team undoubtedly increase if the Seahawks trade Kearse (assuming a player of his same skill set isn’t acquired in return). But if a trade isn’t made by Thursday McKissic obviously won’t want to take any chances.
CB Shaquill Griffin
Griffin’s spot on the roster is safe. But whether he can emerge as a full-time starter in the base defense or simply work in as part of the nickel package — not as the nickel but coming in when the team goes to three cornerbacks with Jeremy Lane moving inside — is still to be determined. The Raiders like to throw it and could challenge Griffin some and give the Seahawks a last look at how ready they feel Griffin is for what awaits at Green Bay in week one.