Seattle Seahawks preseason primer

2006 season recap

Coulda been worse
The Seahawks won the NFC West last season, going against the recent trend of Super Bowl runners-up not qualifying for the playoffs. Injuries ultimately undermined the Seahawks' bid for a second successive NFC title, but they should be considered one of the favorites for the crown in 2007.

Key camp questions

Will new additions help shore up the defense?
Safety Deon Grant should immediately anchor the secondary, as well as help fill the leadership void created by DE Grant Wistrom's retirement. Patrick Kerney, meanwhile, will help fill Wistrom's spot up front. Like defensive tackle Marcus Tubbs, though, Kerney is coming off an injury. If healthy, he should help fuel the aggressive Seahawks defense, which could be as good as any in the conference.

Can the offensive line come together?
After losing Steve Hutchinson in free agency last year, Seattle lost another mainstay with the retirement of C Robbie Tobeck. The Seahawks used a combination of eight starting lineups in 2006, and because of that, sacks were up and productivity was down. The left side appears solid with Walter Jones and Rob Sims, along with new center Chris Spencer. The biggest question will be if the right side has anybody who can emerge from the group of Chris Gray, "Pork Chop" Womack, Sean Locklear and Ray Willis.

Can the offense return to its Super Bowl form after an injury-plagued 2006?
So far it has gotten off to a rocky start. Gone is tight end Jerramy Stevens, talented but often times misguided. Receiver Deion Branch missed a minicamp because a tropical storm thwarted his return from his honeymoon. Add in all of the injury concerns, and Seattle is going to have a lot of work to do in training camp.

Key position battle

Nate Burleson vs. D.J. Hackett
The Seahawks would like Hackett to take over the role as the No. 2 receiver, but Mike Holmgren isn't going to merely hand him the job. At some point, you figure that Holmgren might just settle for a guy who can just hold on to the ball.

Rookie spotlight

Josh Wilson
Wilson has the ability and speed to be a top-flight corner, despite being slightly smaller (5-foot-9) than most cornerbacks. The Seahawks do love his toughness and would like to pair him opposite starter Marcus Trufant.

Player on the spot

Shaun Alexander
The veteran running back is battling an injury and Father Time (he will turn 30 on Aug. 30) heading into the season. Alexander, however, insists he is in the best shape of his life. Good news for Seahawks fans, bad news for the NFC West.

Fantasy focus

Deion Branch
A former Super Bowl MVP, Branch has a terrific chance to record the first 1,000-yard season of his NFL career now that the trade of Darrell Jackson has made him the top wide receiver in Seattle. Now a far more viable No. 2 fantasy wideout, Branch is well worth a middle-round selection.

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