Without preseason games, Saturday’s scrimmage will be as close as it gets to real football before the regular season begins on September 13.
Pete Carroll shared that the Seahawks will go “best vs. best” more often than normal given the absence of exhibition contests. For the most part, we know who will be starting pretty much everywhere on both sides of the football. But Saturday will still provide ample opportunity for the more unheralded players on the roster show out.
I picked five who have a chance to really help themselves this weekend.
1. LB Cody Barton
Barton has kind of been the forgotten man following the selection of Jordyn Brooks. The Seahawks are remarkably deep at linebacker, and so who knows where Barton fits into the mix, but he’s been a daily standout during camp. Seattle’s 2019 third-round pick looks fast and is visibly more confident. He’s been the commander of the second-string defense, and he nearly picked off Russell Wilson earlier this week on a short pass into the right flat.
There’s no doubt that Barton took the selection of Brooks personally. He appears to be on a mission to keep his name top of mind. Remember, Barton played at SAM at the end of his rookie season once Mychal Kendricks tore his ACL. His versatility to play all three linebacker positions bodes well for him, not just in 2020, but down the road as well.
2. WR Cody Thompson
Thompson has been the Seahawks best receiver not named DK Metcalf, Tyler Lockett or Phillip Dorsett. He’s had a few long receptions to go along with a handful of catches underneath as well. The depth chart at receiver is far from set in stone beyond the top three. David Moore has been underwhelming. Freddie Swain is missing some time with a groin strain. John Ursua might be a JAG (Just Another Guy). Josh Gordon is yet to be reinstated by the NFL. All of that has created an opportunity for Thompson to shine. The undrafted receiver out of Toledo (2019) has taken advantage thus far.
It should be noted that Ursua could have easily been on this list as well.
3. DB Ryan Neal
I believe there’s at least one open roster spot in the secondary. Neal, given his versatility to play safety and corner, has an opportunity to claim it. He also possesses ideal size at 6-3, and he’s familiar with the scheme given his time on the practice squad and active roster in 2019. Neal posted one tackle on special teams in three games last December. For those reasons, I give him a leg up on the other young defensive backs on the roster.
4. DL Alton Robinson
Robinson has been the biggest benefactor of Darrell Taylor being on PUP. The team’s fifth-round pick has looked explosive off the edge as a rusher, and he’s had the awareness to set and hold the edge on running plays. The rookie out of Syracuse also batted down a Russell Wilson pass on Thursday for good measure. Robinson would be wise to soak up as much as he can from Bruce Irvin and Benson Mayowa. Taking advantage of his reps will put Robinson several steps ahead of Taylor if and when Seattle’s second-round pick does return to action.
5. CB Tre Flowers
Much like Barton’s reaction to the Seahawks taking Brooks in the first round, Flowers assuredly didn’t love to see Seattle trade for Quinton Dunbar. Shaquill Griffin recently shared that he trained with Flowers during the offseason.
"He is a different person,” Griffin said. “It's going to be a different ball player, I can tell you that much."
Getting torched by Davante Adams has weighed heavy on Flowers’ mind ever since the Packers topped the Seahawks in the Divisional Round last year. That game undoubtedly played a role in Seattle’s pursuit of Dunbar. Don’t expect to see Flowers hand over his job without a fight.