RENTON — The 90 players who currently comprise the Seahawks roster get one last chance Thursday to “fill out their resume,” as coach Pete Carroll put it this week.
Most of them, anyway.
Russell Wilson, Bobby Wagner and most of the starters won’t play when the Seahawks conclude the preseason with a 7 p.m. game against the Oakland Raiders — the 14th straight year Seattle has played Oakland to end the preseason (but the first when the “Hard Knocks” cameras have been tailing the Raiders around).
Then comes decision time for Carroll, general manager John Schneider and the rest of the Seahawks brass as they pare the roster down to the regular-season limit of 53 by Saturday at 1 p.m.
“It’s a long process, really,” Carroll said. “It’s not just the last day and all that. It’s a process of gathering information and a lot of conversation, watching the film, going back at times. We go back and we look again to see some things that we needed to see, to verify stuff. There’s a number of opinions that are flying, and really John and I figure it out and make the choices.”
With one preseason game left, here are what appear to be a few of the bigger questions still left to be answered.
Who will play the nickel position?
On Wednesday, Carroll didn’t try to deny that the nickel spot remains wide open among Jamar Taylor, Ugo Amadi and Akeem King.
Seahawks fans might not need reminding that, twice in the past five years, the Seahawks traded for the player who would become their primary nickel back after the end of the preseason: Marcus Burley in 2014 and Justin Coleman in 2017.
So, anything is possible. As it stands, Carroll seemed to leave open the idea that Taylor, Amadi and King could all make the roster (Amadi seems a lock given his rookie status and ability to play all over the secondary as well as on special teams) with roles at nickel corner.
Who will be the backup quarterback?
Everything continues to point to Geno Smith, who has 31 career starts to Paxton Lynch’s four and played well enough last Saturday against the Chargers. Lynch has practice-squad eligibility and Smith does not, so the only way to keep both around is to have Smith on the 53-man and Lynch on the PS (barring the unlikely possibility of keeping both on the 53).
But Carroll said Thursday’s game could still factor into the decision, with Smith and Lynch expected to get most of the snaps. Carroll said fourth-teamer J.T. Barrett could also get some.
“Well, (Smith and Lynch have) both had their moments,’’ Carroll said. “They’ve basically taken care of the ball really well. They can both run the offense. I’m really anxious to get another assessment here, especially on Paxton.”
Can Ben Burr-Kirven and Shaquem Griffin make a case for a roster spot?
The Seahawks appear to have a pretty set first five at linebacker: starters Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright and Mychal Kendricks with Austin Calitro and Cody Barton as backups.
That’s led to the thought that former Husky Burr-Kirven and 2018 draft darling Griffin could be competing for a final spot at linebacker, or to force the Seahawks to keep both (with any backup linebackers expected to contribute heavily on special teams since the starting three will likely come off the field only in event of injury).
Griffin and Burr-Kirven have each battled injuries in the preseason but are healthy for Thursday’s game.
Burr-Kirven has played both in the middle and on the weakside, and Griffin is pretty much focusing on just strongside linebacker right now. Griffin could benefit if the Seahawks decided not to keep Barkevious Mingo, who was the starter at SLB last year but is now playing rush end with Kendricks the starting SLB.
Of Burr-Kirven, Carroll said: “I just want to see him play some more. … He plays really hard, he’s really instinctive. We just need to see what it looks like on the field. We really trust him because of the bright way he goes about his business and all that. Special teams in particular are really fired up about him contributing.”
And of Griffin: “He’s really featured as the (strongside) backer on the outside so we can get him on the edge. That’s the position that gets the pressure from the edge, it’s not the kind of blitzing through the line of scrimmage. He’s looked good at that stuff because he’s so darn fast. Been a little disrupted with his knee being banged up a bit, but he’s back and he’s ready to go. This is an important game for him just to show where he finishes off the preseason.”
Will Mingo make it?
The Seahawks could save $4.1 million if Mingo is released. But if he’s on the roster Week 1, then his $3.4 million base salary becomes guaranteed.
Mingo seemed in good shape early due to his special-teams prowess and because the team is now using him solely as an edge rusher, a spot where the Seahawks need all the help they can get.
But Mingo hasn’t produced a lot in games — he has one sack and two quarterback hits — and Ziggy Ansah also appears on his way back, possibly lessening the need there.
Carroll gave an answer on Wednesday about Mingo that seemed to speak to the team’s tough decision.
“He made real good progress early, and been a little bit quiet in the games,” Carroll said. “He hasn’t been as productive as we would liked to have seen. But he’s working really hard, he’s a fantastic special-teams player and a real leader in that group. We think a lot of what he brings to this team. He’s a special kid, he’s got a great motor.”
Can C.J. Prosise secure a roster spot?
Prosise was the star of the Chargers game with 32 yards and a touchdown on five carries and one catch for 15 more, the kind of performance that revived memories of some of his early promise and seemed to go a long way toward winning a spot on the roster for one more year.
But Carroll said Wednesday that nothing is yet promised, noting that there is good competition at the tailback spot and that all will be healthy to play Thursday (which includes Bo Scarbrough, who has been out the last two games).
Carroll said Prosise, a third-round pick in 2016, backed up his performance Saturday with “a great week’’ of practice.
“He’s going to get a lot of playing time (against the Raiders),’’ Carroll said. “He deserves a lot of playing time, we need to see him and he has to make up for some lost time. I’ve always admired the range of ability that he brings, and I’m hoping he can have a game again where he can show it and make it obvious that he belongs.”
Can Gary Jennings and John Ursua show they belong?
Ursua, a seventh-round pick, has seemed a lock with some good preseason showings — his 100 yards receiving is the most on the team — while Jennings’ status as a fourth-round pick has also made it seem more likely than not that he hangs around.
But Carroll made an interesting comment Wednesday about the difficulty of rookie receivers adapting to the NFL and that “it’s going to take those guys a while” to get up to speed, speaking specifically of Jennings and Ursua.
Maybe there was some message-sending going on, but when asked if veterans such as Keenan Reynolds and Malik Turner have an advantage due to their experience, he said yes.
“It’s a harder position than you think,” Carroll said. “There are so many intricacies to it. We’ve had young guys where it’s take them a while. It’s rare when the young guys really play well early. I think DK (Metcalf) is different from the other guys we’ve brought in here, it just seems to come to him naturally. Other guys struggle with the detail a little bit more.”
Turner and Moore, he said, are “really well-versed. They really know their stuff. They can play multiple positions, they can run all of the routes, they can do everything. So it does give them a real advantage and makes the decisions really challenging.”
Who will play center with Joey Hunt out?
Hunt will miss the game, and maybe a few more, with a high ankle sprain suffered against the Chargers.
Hunt is the backup center to Justin Britt and has seemed to have a good shot to make the roster, especially with the other backup center — Ethan Pocic — suddenly in line to start the regular season at left guard with Mike Iupati still sidelined.
With Hunt out, Carroll said Marcus Martin, listed as a backup tackle, will play center against the Raiders. It’s not a new job for Martin. He started 21 games at center for the 49ers in 2014 and 2015, beginning his career there when current Seattle offensive-line coach Mike Solari worked for San Francisco.
Martin might suddenly have a chance to make the roster due to injuries to the likes of Hunt, Jordan Simmons and Jamarco Jones, with Carroll calling him “an interesting case.’’
“He’s got a good background,’’ Carroll said. “He’s a real big body in there, I’m real anxious to see him play. I’ve been kind of on his butt all week to make this transition and take advantage of this opportunity with Joey being banged up. He’s going to play a lot in this game.”