Heading into Thursday night’s Seahawks preseason opener at Denver, here are three players that beat writers Jayson Jenks and Bob Condotta are particularly interested in watching.
First, here is Jenks with his three to watch:
Defensive end Benson Mayowa: Mayowa spent all last season on the active roster despite playing in only two games. But the Seahawks “redshirted” Mayowa because they saw enough promise to warrant keeping him around for this season. He added weight this offseason, and the Seahawks are still looking for more depth at defensive end behind Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril. He’s been getting time with the first-team defense at defensive end when the Seahawks play their nickel package. Will he crack the rotation this year?
Cornerback Tharold Simon: He didn’t practice, let alone play, almost all of last season, but he’s had a solid training camp. He has the size the Seahawks want in a cornerback — he’s 6-3 — and he is fighting for one of the backup spots behind Richard Sherman and Byron Maxwell. At this time last year, don’t forget, Maxwell was in a similar situation as Simon.
Defensive tackle Kevin Williams: Williams is an 11-year pro who has been one of the best defensive tackles in the league during the course of his career. But he also turns 34 years old next week and is coming off one of his least productive seasons with the Vikings. The Seahawks have a crowded defensive line, especially after their four starters: defensive ends Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril and defensive tackles Branon Mebane and Tony McDaniel. Williams has gotten a lot of work at defensive tackle when the Seahawks deploy their nickel package (Avril and Mayowa at defensive end; Bennett and Williams inside). He knew he would be used in a rotational role when he joined the Seahawks, but how will he fit in?
And from Condotta:
Offensive tackles Justin Britt and Eric Winston: This has become the most intriguing position battle in camp with the Michael Bowie move, the addition of Winston, and charting the progress of Britt, who appears healthy after the sore shoulder that limited him last Saturday. A road game against a good team will be a good early test of where those two are, especially when they find themselves matched up against Von Miller, who typically lines up on the left side. Britt is listed as the starter, so even if Miller is out there for just a series or two, that could be quite the introduction to the NFL for Britt.
Tailback Christine Michael: I should probably throw Robert Turbin into this as well. But I think the pressure rests a little more heavily on Michael after all of the talk in the off-season about his maturation and readiness now to become a regular contributor. And it’s not just what he does carrying the ball, though that is the easiest thing to chart. What will tell as much about how Michael’s progress is how well he handles the other aspects of the game, notably pass blocking.
Receivers Phil Bates, Bryan Walters and Ricardo Lockette: The news Wednesday that Kevin Norwood had bone spur surgery and could be back soon again changes the complexion of the battle for the last one or two receiving spots. If Norwood is healthy and comes back to play the way he did early, he will be a tough one to keep off the roster. So that could leave the others fighting for one spot — assuming the Seahawks keep six receivers. Bates has been one of the stars of camp, but production in games could help him a whole lot more (and hopefully he’ll be 100 percent after having been ill earlier this week). Walters has also had some consistent moments and could also factor in the return games — I’d expect him to get a return or two against Denver. Lockette also has had some moments in camp and played well late last season. At the moment, I’m not sure there’s much separating any of those three.