The Seahawks have not suffered any devastating injuries this preseason, which puts them one up on some NFL teams; but, they certainly have their share of dings.
The Seahawks have just a handful of veteran stars left from the Super Bowl core, and a couple of them are banged up as the season approaches. But K.J. Wright and Doug Baldwin aren’t the only injuries that will affect the team when it takes the field in Denver in a little over a week. The team also figures to be without Dion Jordan, Ed Dickson, Jamarco Jones, J.D. McKissic and perhaps Byron Maxwell and Neiko Thorpe.
At least five of those eight players were expected to be big contributors this season, so it’s at least a little concerning that we don’t know how long Wright and some of the others will be out — and it’s unfortunate to hear Baldwin will play the season at 80-85 percent as he manages a knee problem. (UPDATE: Coach Pete Carroll said Wright the “optimistic” estimate is two weeks. The range is typically 2-4 weeks for arthroscopic surgery.)
We’re giving the Seahawks a B-minus for roster strength. Here are grades for each position, based on health and depth (updated 8/29):
It’s not an A, because the Hawks don’t have a winning backup behind Russell Wilson. There are only so many Nick Folks around, and the Hawks don’t have one. Like most teams, if the starter goes down, so do the playoff chances. However, Brett Hundley (acquired from Green Bay) certainly has bigger upside than Austin Davis.
This unit has been snakebitten since 2015, and it hasn’t stopped this summer. Rashaad Penny missed most of the preseason with a broken finger and J.D. McKissic will miss September with a foot injury. C.J. Prosise is not a reliable option either — as everyone knows. And Chris Carson is no lock to stay healthy; before a broken leg cost him most of his rookie season, he had dealt with an ACL injury as a senior in high school and assorted other ailments in college. At this point, Mike Davis is the only guy who has proven he can be counted on. But here’s hoping they have enough legs to make a good run through the season.
Baldwin’s revelation that his knee issue will hinder him all season puts the onus on Tyler Lockett, Jaron Brown, Brandon Marshall and David Moore to stay healthy. Marshall is coming off foot injuries, and Lockett is finally back from a broken leg that affected his last two seasons. If they can stay healthy, an 80 percent Baldwin will be good enough. But, if a couple of those guys get injured, too, this unit will be in trouble.
The front five are in good shape, although D.J. Fluker probably will end up with some injury issue along the way (he has a hamstring injury now). J.R. Sweezy just returned, which means George Fant, Jordan Roos, Rees Odhiambo, Isaiah Battle and Sweezy are the top bench options. If Jamarco Jones had not suffered a high ankle sprain, the depth on this unit would be very good. As it stands, it’s a pretty strong-looking crew that should improve over the first few weeks of the season — and hopefully get healthier.
Ed Dickson’s long absence has put a damper on this unit, which lacks a veteran (Nick Vannett does not count). Carroll said Dickson “had an issue coming back that something else got aggravated so it’s exacerbated the problem of just returning where he can get in shape and all that. We’ll go at it, really, a couple days at a time to see how he does.” It wouldn’t be a shocker if the Hawks hunted for a vet to replace Dickson, although they probably can be patient as Dickson comes back from the quadriceps/groin injuries that have kept him out all camp.
This is easily the strongest unit on the team, even though the outside pass rush remains a question with Dion Jordan on PUP and Frank Clark suffering a hyperextended elbow. The rest of the crew — 10 deep — seems pretty healthy and will be very stout against the run. The Hawks will be able to send waves of players at offenses, so it’s just a matter of the outside rush helping the strong interior. Erik Walden needs to show this week that he should stick around to help Clark, Rasheem Green, Barky Mingo and Jake Martin on the outside. Otherwise, John Schneider will be looking for another guy this weekend.
The Hawks have always depended heavily on Bobby Wagner and Wright here, so Wright’s knee surgery creates a bit of a problem. Rookie Shaquem Griffin will have to take over his spot for as long as the seven-year veteran is out. Martin and Austin Calitro are unproven backups, so Wagner, Griffin and Mingo must stay healthy until Wright returns.
Injuries have frustrated Carroll’s attempt to put together a starting secondary, and now that effort unfortunately will continue into the season. The only locks are Shaquill Griffin and Bradley McDougald. The other safety is unsettled, especially with Tedric Thompson dealing with a couple of injuries (stinger and ribs). And the right corner spot has been a mess all summer, with Dontae Johnson, Byron Maxwell and Neiko Thorpe all injured and rookie Tre Flowers converting from safety. Maxwell (hip) and Thorpe (wrist) have not played in the preseason, leaving Johnson to try to seize the position. It will be no surprise if Schneider makes a move to try to fix this spot.
The only concern here is the health of 40-year-old Sebastian Janikowski, who seems destined to pull something or otherwise get banged up at some point. Schneider better have his Little Black Book of Kickers ready.