Doug Farrar, Seahawks.NET: Murphy will most likely be camp fodder for the Seahawks, unfortunately - there’s a numbers game at every position, and Seattle is stacked so deep at guard right now with players trying to fill Steve Hutchinson’s old role at left guard and grab depth roster spots, there will be more than one odd man out when the music stops. He’s behind Floyd Womack, Chris Gray, Rob Sims, and possibly Chris Spencer if Spencer proves more valuable this year at guard instead of the center position for which he was drafted. Murphy might have a shot at the practice squad, but he’s in a situation where there’s stiff competition with guys who are already established – or like Sims, have impressed in preseason action.
Seattle Seahawks starting left guard Floyd Womack (77) walks across the field with Chris Spencer (65) during practice at football training camp, Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2006, in Cheney, Wash. (AP Photo/Amy Sinisterra)
DS: How is the team moving forward without Steve Hutchinson and what does it mean to us fantasy hounds and Seattle's overall offense?
DF: There’s reason for concern. Hutchinson is without question the best guard in football, and Shaun Alexander’s least effective season in terms of carries, yards and yards per carry happened in 2002, when Hutchinson was out for twelve weeks with a broken leg. The plan has been for Womack to replace Hutchinson at left guard. Womack is a 335-pound road grader whose assets would be enhanced and liabilities diminished by playing between tackle Walter Jones and center Robbie Tobeck. However, Womack has missed most of August with a hamstring strain, and last season, he lost the starting right tackle job to Sean Locklear after missing time due to a triceps injury. Sims would probably be the backup option.
You’d have to expect a bit more pass-heavy offense from the Seahawks this year – in both 2004 and 2005, they ran the ball 52.3 percent of the time – and though Alexander will still be a top five fantasy player, this season might raise Matt Hasselbeck’s stock. Shaun will still be money in the red zone – of that you can be sure.
DS: Last week, the Chicago Bears ran a full package on defense instead of the normal vanilla in preseason against the Bolts. Will Seattle be going with the full playbook or a watered down version when they come to town?
DF: The Seahawks, and defensive coordinator John Marshall, run the Cover 2 with a few wrinkles – but the basic idea is to get guys flowing to the ball all the time. It’s not a scheme-heavy defense like New England’s or Pittsburgh’s, and it will be less so in the preseason. Expect a lot of vanilla two-deep sets with the occasional blitz.
DS: Who steps up now that Jerramy Stevens is out for a few weeks and what is his timetable for a return?
DF: Stevens will most likely miss the first month of the regular season with a torn meniscus in his left knee. Veteran Itula Mili, who missed most of 2005 with an intestinal blockage, will step in and be the top man. Free agent acquisition Will Heller will be more of a blocking tight end. This is supposed to be the year that Stevens breaks into the elite – and you Chargers fans know a thing or two about great tight ends. Stevens has everything it takes to be an Antonio Gates (or dare I say) a Kellen Winslow if he can just keep the mental aspect of his game together. Mili is a reliable but less spectacular option.
DS: Kelly Jennings was one of my favorite players to talk to prior to the draft - how has he progressed and what other rookies are making noise?
DF: He was one of my favorite players to talk to during the draft, thanks to you!
Jennings is looking good – it’s a developmental process, but it’s obvious that he has all the tools. Good backpedal, great recovery speed, and he’s got enough elite college experience (40+ starts at Miami) to lead observers to believe that his maturation process won’t take too terribly long. That said, your team drafted a corner in the first round as well, and you know that it takes a while to get to the point of reliability at this level. Jennings reminds me a lot of former Seahawk Andre Dyson – sneaky fast, good pursuit, not a great tackler - I think he’ll be fine. Right now, he’s been staying with receivers, but his coverage ability looks a bit rough. Nothing that more experience won’t cure.
Rookie punter Ryan Plackemeier, the Ray Guy award winner from Wake Forest, has been booming punts through camp and the preseason. The starting job is probably his to lose. Second-round pick Darryl Tapp, the pass-rushing end from Virginia Tech, has been going up against Walter Jones in camp and holding his own – that’s a statement in itself.
Stay tuned for Part Two of "Behind Enemy Lines: the Seattle Seahawks", to be published on Friday.