This week is really the last chance for bubble players to make their cases to coaches.
Week 3 is for the starters and the fourth game generally doesn’t mean much beyond perhaps finalizing the last spot or two on the roster.
Here are the locks, by our count: (QB) Russell Wilson; (RB) Chris Carson, Rashaad Penny, Nick Bellore; (WR) Tyler Lockett, Jaron Brown, David Moore, D.K. Metcalf; (TE) Will Dissly, Nick Vannett; (OL) Duane Brown, Mike Iupati, Justin Britt, D.J. Fluker, Germain Ifedi, George Fant, Jamarco Jones; (DL) Ziggy Ansah, L.J. Collier, Poona Ford, Earl Mitchell, Al Woods, Quinton Jefferson, Cassius Marsh, Jacob Martin; (LB) Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright, Mychal Kendricks, Austin Calitro, Cody Barton; (DB) Shaquill Griffin, Tre Flowers, Akeem King, Neiko Thorpe, Bradley McDougald, Tedric Thompson, Marquise Blair; (ST) Jason Myers, Michael Dickson, Tyler Ott.
That leaves 13 spots — for one quarterback, one or two running backs, one or two receivers, one tight end, two offensive linemen, one or two defensive linemen, one or two linebackers, two or three defensive backs.
We already know what backup bubble players like J.D. McKissic, Keenan Reynolds, Joey Hunt and Branden Jackson can do.
Here are the players we need to see more of:
Paxton Lynch: He is making a strong move for the backup spot, so we need to see him with the No. 2 offense. He seems a better bet than the inaccurate Geno Smith (57.7% career), who still doesn’t appear to be much of a leader. Lynch seems to bring a more upbeat spirit; so, if play is equal, he should be the guy.
Travis Homer and Bo Scarbrough: Homer (quadriceps) is running out of time to get on the field, if he wants to push McKissic and Scarbrough for a roster spot. The Hawks probably need just three tailbacks, and McKissic might be obsolete because Penny can be the third-down back and players at other positions can fill in as returners.
Gary Jennings and John Ursua: Jazz Ferguson is the leader for the fifth receiver spot. There’s not really any reason to keep six, unless Jennings or Ursua impress throughout the preseason. Jennings still has time to show, but the Hawks are 0 for 3 on fourth-round receivers so he certainly is no lock. Ursua displayed savvy in the first game and looks like he has Doug Baldwin upside. At least one of these guys should end up on the practice squad.
Jacob Hollister: If the trade acquisition, who missed the first game with a groin ailment, looks like he can replace Ed Dickson, the Hawks might move on from the injured veteran and go with Will Dissly, Nick Vannett and Hollister. The healthiest man at cutdowns probably makes it (cap space is not an issue — the Hawks have plenty to keep Dickson if they choose).
Ethan Pocic, Jordan Simmons, Marcus Martin and Phil Haynes: The Hawks need to figure out their backup guards. Pocic has gotten tons of work with Iupati injured, and the veteran Martin played a bunch in the first preseason game. Will Simmons play this week? Will Haynes come off PUP before it’s too late? Those spots might be decided by attrition.
Barkevious Mingo: The veteran needs to show some pass-rush ability against first-string offenses or he probably won’t make the team. He didn’t do much in the opener, except against Denver’s third-teamers. So he needs to step it up this week.
Rasheem Green and Nazair Jones: The two former third-rounders have been disappointing this summer. Green still looks very raw (he whiffed on a big QB option vs. Denver). Can he turn it on like he did last preseason and carry it over to the season? The coaches seem to desperately be trying to find a place where the once-promising Jones can contribute. Jarran Reed’s suspension could open a temporary spot for him.
Shaquem Griffin and Ben Burr-Kirven: Unless the Hawks keep seven linebackers, these two are fighting for the final spot. Griffin has proven to be a solid special-teamer.
Marquise Blair: The rookie had a notable first game and looks like he could soon overtake Tedric Thompson for a starting spot. It will be interesting to see whether he keeps it up.
Lano Hill, DeShawn Shead and Ugo Amadi: It’s possible all three of these guys make it, if the Hawks keep 10 defensive backs (which Pete Carroll often does). Shead seems a good bet because he can play everywhere. Amadi seems to have great promise as a punt returner, which certainly helps his case. Hill had come on late last season before suffering a broken hip; he needs to show he is capable of starting alongside Blair down the road.
Jamar Taylor: The veteran showed promise in the first game and could have a shot if Carroll wants to keep 10 or even 11 defensive backs.