There is a probably not a more eager NFL team ready to get back to the practice field for training camp than the Seattle Seahawks. After the infamous failure to give Marshawn Lynch the ball on the one-yard line, costing the Seahawks Super Bowl XLIX, it is finally time for them to get the bitter taste out of their mouth.
Altogether 32 teams start the 2015 season with one goal and that is to go to the Super Bowl., In Seattle, that is not just the end, but it is the expectation. But, even a team that has been two consecutive Super Bowls like the Seahawks enters training camp with questions that need to be answered. Here is a look at three storylines as the two-time defending NFC champions get ready to open training camp on Thursday in Renton, Wash.
What will the revamped offensive line look like?
With the trade of Max Unger to New Orleans as part of the deal that brought Jimmy Graham to Seattle and losing James Carpenter in free agency, expect the competition for jobs on the offensive line to be fierce. The top candidate to win the job at center figures to be Patrick Lewis, who saw extensive playing last season while Unger was injured and was at center when the Seahawks exploded for 596 yards in their Week 16 win at Arizona. Lemuel Jean-Pierre also is someone that you can’t count out, as he always seems to find a way to stick around and get on the field. At Guard, Alvin Bailey and J.R. Sweezy should be the front-runners to lock down the left and right guard spots, respectively. Still, it would be a huge plus if rookie Mark Glowinski can come in and provide competition and invaluable depth. Russell Okung and Justin Britt are pretty much locked in at the two tackle positions. The key for Okung is to stay healthy, while Britt needs to be more consistent in his second season as the starting right tackle.
Can the Legion of Boom stay healthy?
With the recent news that All-Pro safety Earl Thomas is considered questionable at the best for the Sept. 13 season opener in St. Louis, the question has to be asked if the toll of 38 games over the past two season is starting to finally take its toll on the NFL’s best secondary. Thomas, Kam Chancellor and Richard Sherman have never been guys afraid of contract, no matter the situation. But with Thomas’ status already in doubt and the fact that neither Chancellor nor Sherman were at 100 percent during the Super Bowl, it is critical that the Seahawks get immediate contributions from free agent signee Cary Williams, as well as help from the rest of the supporting cast. Don’t forget that Williams, the former Eagle, is the one tasked with replacing Byron Maxwell, who left via free agency and landed in Philadelphia. Some of the burden also falls to the offense, which can help the Legion of Boom by jumping out to big leads and putting more points on the scoreboard. The less punishment the L.O.B. has to dole out this season, the better chance the Seahawks have of being at full strength come playoff time, something that was not the case last season.
Can Tyler Lockett revive the Seahawks’ struggling return game?
The punt return game was one of the worst in the NFL last season, as Seattle clearly missed Golden Tate. The season started promising with Percy Harvin and Thomas lined up as Tate’s replacement. But that was before the implosion that led to Harvin getting traded and common sense kicking in to stop using Thomas, an All-Pro safety, on punt returns. The Seahawks were then relegated to using guys like Bryan Walters, pretty much eliminating the possibility of a big return. So Seattle had 28 fair catches on punt returns, second only to, ironically enough, Tate’s new team, Detroit, which led the league with 37.
Lockett, was an outstanding return man at Kansas State, returning four kickoffs and two punts for touchdowns during his career. It’s still early, but Lockett has shown signs that he is ready to walk right in and take over duties in Week 1, a homecoming of sorts for him in St. Louis. If Lockett can step in right away and make an impact on special teams, this will be a huge plus for Seattle. Besides giving the team a much-needed spark, it also will allow fellow wide receives Doug Baldwin and Paul Richardson to not have to do double duty this season.
— Written by Scott Whittum, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and also writes for College Sports Madness, covering college football, basketball, softball and baseball.