Anticipation And Expectations

.NET's Bruce Niemi takes a quick look at some key position battles for the Seahawks in 2004, and adds his voice to the growing optimism.

The off-season is drawing to a close. It has seemed this year that it would never end. Maybe because I have a chill in my bones. But that's a good thing. I anticipate and expect good things this year.

We're just days away from July 15th when can once again begin with Walter Jones. Will he and Roosevelt Barnes finally begin real negotiations? Probably not. It will probably end up the same way it has for the last few years. Holding out as long as possible. It hurts the team's chemistry among the starters, but it gives the new guys a lot more reps in training camp and preseason. There's nothing we the fans can do to change that. I hope it changes this year, but my expectations are pretty low on having Walter here and training hard.

But we're also a few short weeks away from training camp. If ever there was a year that I wanted to be there in person to see the upcoming battles for a starting position, this would be it. I am so excited about our team this year. The foundation has been laid and I feel this team can do some damage for years to come.

Who will take away a job or retain their starting position? I think Mili and Stevens will have a fierce battle going on right up until opening day. Can Stevens do it? I doubt it. But I want him to prove this year that was worth the number one pick we drafted him with. Make the catches in the end zone. Make the opposing team use double teams on him. I would love to see a double tight end set out there when we're in the red zone. Make the plays Jerramy, and we can have just that.

The battle between DTs Marcus Tubbs and Rashad Moore should also be interesting to watch. I think Moore will be the starter, but how long will he be able to keep it? This match up will only help Tubbs and I expect him to get plenty of playing time as the season goes on . This could very well be a dynamic duo by the end of the year with our rotations.

Safeties Michael Boulware and Terreal Bierria. Bierria will probably start, but again, the competition is there. Boulware could be a threat on special teams if nothing else. The same goes for MLBs Orlando Huff, Solomon Bates and Niko Koutouvides, as well as CBs Ken Lucas and Bobby Taylor. Good luck in the battles, guys! But remember, you're all in the trenches together. It's a team sport and this is a team you will want to be a part of it. I can feel it in my bones. We are close. VERY CLOSE.

Are we close enough to make it over the hump? Can we win the division and take the NFC West title? Do we have the heart and determination? I think so. I expect us to improve this year and continue to climb that ladder until we win the Lombardy. I want several of them in fact and this team we're putting together can do it.

Of course, it depends on a lot of luck. Staying injury-free and playing as a team. Playing with heart. In my heart, I anticipate it. I expect it And I BELIEVE IT.

See you in the stands.

Bruce Niemi runs the Seahawks.NET Fan Forum. Feel free to reach him at Top Stories