The Seattle Seahawks are coming off their best season in franchise history. After winning the NFC West and finishing the regular-season tied for the best record at 13-3, the team went on to win Super Bowl XLVIII, defeating Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos in dominant fashion. Now, the Seahawks have started training camp, as they look to become the first back-to-back Super Bowl champions in a decade.
After such a strong 2013 campaign, it won’t be easy for the Seahawks to replicate that success in 2014. Seattle lost multiple significant contributors in free agency, while failing to sign any big name player. Wide receiver Golden Tate led the team with 64 catches a year ago, but signed with the Detroit Lions. Defensive ends Chris Clemons and Red Bryant, defensive tackle Clinton McDonald and cornerback Walter Thurmond also signed elsewhere this offseason.
Despite losing some key players, the Seahawks have higher expectations that just about any team in football. With Russell Wilson still at quarterback and the best defense in the league, Seattle remains the favorites in the NFC. The team will play its first preseason contest on Thursday, Aug. 7 in a rematch of the Super Bowl. In Week One, they’re scheduled to take on the Green Bay Packers.
Seattle did make a few additions this offseason, drafting nine players and signing some free agents. Below are four players to watch for at Seahawks training camp.
The receiver was on the team last year, but Harvin could have the same impact as a newly signed free agent. He only played one regular-season game, as a hip injury kept him out for most of the year. The previous season, he caught 62 passes for 677 yards in just nine games.
A healthy Harvin could be a real boost to the Seahawks offense, which lost its No.1 receiver in free agency. In training camp, though, Harvin must prove he can stay on the field. Head coach Pete Carroll is being very cautious with the 26-year-old, allowing him to rest every other day. Harvin participates in walkthroughs and meetings on his days off, hoping to be ready to play a full season.
The running back has been about as reliable as any player at his position in the last three years, averaging more than 1,350 yards and nearly 12 touchdowns per season. In 2014, though, the Seahawks don’t know what they’ll get out of their star player since he failed to report to training camp and is holding out for a new contract.
If Lynch doesn’t suit up anytime soon, a few players will look to benefit from his absence. Third-year rusher Robert Turbin might be first in line to start for the missing Lynch. He’s been splitting carries with the first-team offense with Christine Michael, who was drafted in the second round last year. Turbin backed up Lynch in every game last year, totaling 264 yards on the ground, while Michael had just 18 carries for 79 yards.
After being selected on the second day of the 2014 NFL Draft, Brit will get the opportunity to make an immediate impact with the defending champions. He was taken in the second round, and joins an offensive line that could struggle this year. Starters Breno Giacomini and Paul McQuistan signed elsewhere this offseason, while Russell Okung has yet to practice because of foot surgery.
Last year, Seattle’s offensive line had trouble, at times, protecting Wilson, allowing him to get sacked 44 times, tying him for the third-most in the league. Brit could play on either the left or right side of the line, and will look to make the case to get significant playing time this season.
The Seahawks didn’t have a first-round draft choice this year, but spent their No.1 pick on a wide receiver. The team chose Richardson from Colorado at No.45 overall, as Seattle looks to bolster its passing attack.
Richardson might not pass Harvin or Doug Baldwin as the top two options, but the departures of Tate and Sidney Rice leave room for the rookie to make an impact. He’s a deep threat who can make some big plays for Seattle and make the most of his time on the field.