Injuries have pushed defensive end into the forefront of that discussion.
Starting left end Ray Edwards missed the start of training camp with a lower back injury and has been working his way back into full-time duties this week. His role for Friday night's preseason opener remains to be determined, but defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier said he would expect Edwards to play if he continues to make progress.
"We would still like to be able to get him some reps in a game. We would like him to be able to practice at that left end and to be able to play a game at that left end," Frazier said. "The more reps he can get in a game-like situation the better, but at the same time we are going to be cautious and not allow him to take too many reps because he still is coming off an injury."
It would be Edwards' first action since Week 12 of the 2007 regular season. He was suspended the final four games for violating the league's policy on steroids and related substances.
But the news that Brian Robison likely won't be available for a few weeks put further strain on a position during a time when all players are getting plenty of practice time in the sun. Robison is expected to have "a procedure" on a varicose vein in his left leg this week, causing Otis Grigsby to move from left end, where he was backing up Edwards and Jayme Mitchell, to right end, where he'll back up Jared Allen.
The depth at the position is being tested.
"It is a concern because you really want Brian to be here and practicing and really preparing. He is a guy we are counting on to create the kind of depth we like to have, especially in our league where you are affected when you lose a key guy," Frazier said. "For us a year ago he turned out to be a key player for us, so for him not to be able to go through these practices with us right now is probably a negative for us and for him in particular."
But for every injury situation in NFL parlance, there is a positive – a chance for a young player to put more of his work on film.
"…The most important thing for us is to be able to evaluate our backup players and then check out the conditioning of our veteran guys and working towards being healthy for that September the 8th opener. That is the most important thing and if we can get our timing down and continue to work on our conditioning and evaluate our roster, make sure we have the right guys, that is probably the most important thing as opposed to scheming for the Seattle Seahawks at this point in the season," Frazier said.
WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON NOTES