The Seahawks’ overall depth this year has been considered the best since 2013, when they won the Super Bowl.
They have had to dip into those reserves here and there throughout the season — especially covering for Thomas Rawls, Kam Chancellor, Michael Bennett and Luke Willson.
But this week, as the Hawks try to stay on the heels of the Dallas Cowboys with a win in Tampa, the depth is being tested at every level.
While Rawls, Chancellor and Willson are back, the Hawks will face the Bucs without Bennett, Earl Thomas, C.J. Prosise and Troymaine Pope, and they might be without DeShawn Shead, Justin Britt, Brock Coyle, Damontre Moore and Tanner McEvoy.
The losses of Prosise and Pope mean Rawls will be backed up by Alex Collins and George Farmer. With Thomas out, Steven Terrell and Kelcie McCray will play bigger roles. If Shead is out, Jeremy Lane will start and Neiko Thorpe will be the No. 3 corner. If Britt is out, Joey Hunt will start — giving the Hawks three rookies on the line.
The Seahawks have 14 rookies on their roster and they have gotten big contributions from several — Prosise, Germain Ifedi, George Fant, Jarran Reed, Tanner McEvoy. Rees Odhiambo also showed last week that he is ready to play the sixth man role on the line, which led to the release of J’Marcus Webb.
“First off, these guys have been really diligent about preparing for the opportunity, so when they did jump in, they did well,” Carroll said. “They knew their assignments; they were in the right spots. They gave us the confidence that they were comfortable with that opportunity. As we move forward, we feel good about those guys playing if we need them to play again.”
Here’s what Carroll said about the guys who could be big players this week or beyond:
Joey Hunt: “Joey’s a really smart football player. That was one of the reasons we were excited to see him when we got him. He’s always on his game. He’s a natural center in that he understands the position. He’s just been a really good player with a lot of background at it. He’s never had a problem doing anything we’ve asked him to do. If Joey does end up playing this week, I feel like we don’t have to change anything or adapt anything. It’s all the same communication and we’ll get a guy playing his butt off to help his teammates.”
Alex Collins: “Alex has worked really hard to get in shape. He’s kind of reconditioned himself. He looks much better than he did in the offseason when we were getting ready and even in camp. I think he’s found a new level of conditioning that really suits him well; he looks quick and explosive. He’s practiced great for a long time. I visited him (Wednesday) reminding him that this is a great opportunity for him and that he has worked really hard for it. He’s ready and he’s prepared. He can play all facets of the game for us. He can play in first, second, third down — all that stuff — run all the routes we need to run. He’s done a really nice job in preparation.”
George Farmer: “George has been my special project for some time now. He’s played a few different positions and that’s because he’s such a talented athlete. He’s a really good competitor. He has a good mind for it, he’s handled the things that we’ve done with him. All along, when we drafted C.J., we looked at him and said George can do the same things that he could do. We’ll see if that works out. We really like the player and I think you’re going to see he has a lot of versatility.”
Neiko Thorpe: “First off, Neiko looked good at Oakland, technique-wise. He had been coached, not quite the same as us, but well enough that we could see that he was a press corner. He could do it. He had good size and all that. He’s strong; he’s comfortable with it. It’s not too big for him to be up on the line of scrimmage, challenging good players and fast guys, big guys — doesn’t matter. Very versatile and a really good all round football player, which has been demonstrated by his special teams work. He’s been a fantastic special teams contributor for us. That is kind of the way Shead came along too. It shows you that savvy and instincts and stuff. Good tackler, too, so he fits in with our guys. (Richard) Sherman and Shead have always been good tacklers and fit guys on the edge. Neiko is like that, too, and he demonstrated that right off the bat playing last week.”
Steven Terrell (via Richard Sherman): “Steven has done a great job every time he’s been asked to come in there. He’s been very disciplined, he knows the scheme and he’ll execute just like he did last week. He had a few balls that he let get away, but I’m sure he’ll be more comfortable this week.”
Rees Odhiambo: “I think it was in Week 3 or 4, we just noticed that he made a jump. He just felt more comfortable. He had been a left tackle primarily throughout his college career. Then we had him at guard. Whenever we spotted him at tackle, he just looked more comfortable. I think that was illustrated again. Once he got settled in, just the physical stuff and the mentality just seemed to shift a bit and he just got more confident. I think he was just fighting the fight and not really clearing up how he could fit in and play; but, once he did that, he’s really made a good impression. This is a really good deal for us. It’s really what we were hoping to see. He could go in, if he plays this week, and we’ll feel fine about it. If not, he’ll also be able to back up in a number of spots, which is really valuable to us.”