The Seahawks start training camp tomorrow with more questions than they’ve had in a long time. We’ll just hit the big one for now.
If you were lucky enough to score tickets to the Seahawks training camp at Virginia Mason Athletic Center, you’re in for a real treat. You get to see your beloved team gear up for the challenges of the new season. And as an added bonus, you’ll be treated to several mini-mysteries! Such as, who will be the number one running back? Who will be the number three wideout? Wow, it’s like a dinner theater murder mystery, but with football! The big question: will the NFL allow Russell Wilson to put Mr. Unlimited on the back of his jersey? That would be a loud no. But for the rest, read on.
These questions won’t be answered for several weeks, of course. In some cases, we may not know until the final preseason game against the Raiders. For now, let’s start with the biggest question.
Will Earl Thomas show up for training camp? Just kidding; that’s a very loud no. The real question is, who takes his place at free safety? Bradley McDougald is likely to play strong safety, as he did last season when he stepped in for Kam Chancellor. However, McDougald played at Thomas’s spot this spring. He has a lot of experience at either safety position. Pro Football Focus graded him as the 17th best safety in coverage last year, but 78th in run support. Not that they’re infallible, but it is something to think about.
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The Seahawks have strong options at both positions
Delano Hill played strong safety with McDougald at free in spring practice, so that’s an obvious possibility. Of all the returning safeties, Hill has the most experience other than McDougald. Considering he only got 32 snaps on defense, that’s a bit terrifying. But, he could very well be the man.
Another strong candidate is former Ram Maurice Alexander. He’s an interesting case. In his second year with the Rams, he got five starts at free safety. In 2016 he was moved to strong safety and started all 14 of his games there. In 2017 he was switched back to strong safety, made four starts and was cut.
His rankings from Pro Football Focus for those three years: 40.0, 82.9, 42.5. That’s playing strong safety, free safety, then strong safety again. If Alexander is healthy, maybe the Seahawks should keep McDougald to the strong side.
Hill and Alexander aren’t the only candidates. The Seahawks didn’t draft Tedric Thompson for his smile. Nice smile, but the man has a solid game. He had seven interceptions in his senior season at Colorado, and defended 16 passes. He got into nine games last year with the Seahawks, almost all of his action on special teams. He made the most of it with two fumble recoveries. Nothing like a man with a nose for the football.
And of course, there’s Eric Reid. We’ve talked about him already, but since his grievance against the NFL is still grinding its very slow way though the legal system, no one, not even the Seahawks, is going to touch him. Regardless, Seattle has a pretty solid roster as the last line of defense. And I think Thomas will be back with the Seahawks by week three of the regular season. No way he wants to miss his favorite team, the Cowboys!