Cornerback depth shallow

Less than two weeks ago, the battle for the starting job at right cornerback and a healthy Shawn Springs on the left side, signaled that perhaps for the first time since head coach/ GM Mike Holmgren arrived in Seattle, the team's secondary was headed in the right direction. Oh how things can turn on a dime in this league we call the NFL. ...

The plan seemed so simple. Willie Williams, the team's starter at right cornerback for the past four seasons, was signed last off-season to play the nickel position against the slot back when teams line up with three wide. Meanwhile, second-year man Ike Charlton and rookie Ken Lucas would be left to battle it out for the starting job on the right side. If neither player performed well enough to earn the starting role by the start of regular season, then Williams would assume the position, allowing the younger corners develop while playing in nickel and dime packages.

It was August 9, two days before the Seahawks faced off with Indianapolis in their first preseason game. The team had finished practice in Cheney and secondary coach Ken Flajole commented on how one of the most competitive positional battles at camp was shaping up.

"I don't know right now," Flajole said. "Hopefully, somebody will come out of the mix. We've got some choices. Now you hope the choice is good enough."

Two days later, Shawn Springs went down during the Indy game with a torn left hamstring, which limited the number of choices. The prognosis: out three to five weeks. The personnel adjustment to Springs' injury seemed simple – move Williams over to the left side and start Charlton or Lucas on the right when the team played their second preseason game against the Arizona Cardinals on August 18.

Then the unimaginable happened. Willie Williams fractured his left forearm in the first quarter of the Arizona game while tackling running back Thomas Jones. The prognosis: out four to six weeks.

Suddenly, in the span of less than two weeks, the Seahawks have become paper-thin at the cornerback position. Now they must figure out how to keep opponents from picking their eyes out through the air, for perhaps the first three regular season games against Cleveland, Kansas City and Philadelphia - until Springs can bring relief to the lineup.

Until then, Charlton and Lucas are penciled in as starters and the dime and nickel packages could feature backups Paul Miranda, Curtis Fuller and Harold Blackmon. Another possibility could be using a linebacker in coverage rather than a corner. With a solid cast of linebackers on the team and limited depth on the defensive line this season, a 3-4 rotation could be a smart option at times.

Possible replacements through free agency or trade could include free agents James Hasty, Antonio Langham, Darnell Walker, Deion Sanders and Tyronne Drakeford. Then again, as Holmgren pointed out Monday, "The people that are out there unsigned, there are reasons that they are out there unsigned. Corners are a premium position and they are tough to find. You can trade for one, but it's a little unrealistic unless someone desperately needs someone at another position."

On one hand, the prospects may appear dim for Seattle. On the other hand however, every team suffers setbacks because of injuries during the season. It may be a blessing this happened the first two weeks of preseason rather than later, when the team tries to make a run for the playoffs.

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