Corbin Smith

Three Seahawks on the Hot Seat

Created on Jul. 23, 2014 10:56 AM EST

When the Seattle Seahawks open training camp at the Virginia Mason Athletic Complex on Friday, several veterans will be suiting up facing lengthy odds to survive cuts and make the final roster. Here's a look at three players that I think will need to have great camps to remain with the Seahawks for the 2014 season:

1. Sidney Rice, Wide Receiver
Rice has already been pegged as a veteran on the roster bubble by Gregg Rosenthal of, and with good reason. He's been a valuable asset in the locker room and has shown flashes of greatness during his tenure in Seattle, but his production never lived up to the mega-deal he signed prior to the 2010 season. After tearing his ACL against the St. Louis Rams on Monday Night Football last year, the Seahawks cut him in February as a cap casualty.

Once Rice realized he wasn't going to receive any lucrative offers elsewhere, he came back to Seattle on a one-year deal worth up to $1.4 million. He only made 15 receptions in 2013 before suffering his season-ending knee injury, and with an improved cast around him, making the final roster isn't guaranteed. His leadership qualities will help him, but he has to prove he's fully recovered from his ACL tear and play at a high level throughout camp to have a shot at remaining with the Seahawks this season.

I believe the additions of Paul Richardson and Kevin Norwood make Rice's chances of sticking with the team slim-to-none, and that also spells doom for other veteran receivers like Ricardo Lockette and Bryan Walters. If the Seahawks choose to carry six receivers, a healthy Rice would seem to be the best bet to land that last roster spot because of his size and prior accolades. But based on previous history, it wouldn't be surprising to see Seattle move on with five receivers and cut ties with him.

Update: Rice announced his retirement on Wednesday after seven NFL seasons due to concussion issues.

2. Heath Farwell, Middle Linebacker

I have incredible respect for Farwell and if I had to make a decision on his future, it would be very difficult to cut him based on his leadership and valuable contributions on special teams. From a football standpoint, however, undrafted rookie Brock Coyle out of Montana could be an upgrade with a higher ceiling.

Bobby Wagner will be the starter at middle linebacker, and K.J. Wright has the ability to slide inside if needed, so there hasn't been a great deal of urgency to develop a player behind him to this point. Farwell has been a strong asset for the Seahawks since signing as a free agent in 2010, but he's well into his 30's now and will surely start to decline as player in the next few seasons. He rarely has seen the field as a defensive player, and it would be smart for Seattle to start thinking about developing a steady backup for Wagner.

Coyle is an intelligent player who is technically sound as a tackler and projects well into Dan Quinn's defense. It remains to be seen how he will handle his first training camp, but if he has a strong preseason and picks up the defensive playbook quickly, it will be hard for Seattle's staff to keep the older Farwell over him. This is a genuine case where the team will have to choose between youth and upside against experience.

3. Derrick Coleman, Fullback

Cutting Coleman would disappoint many fans because he has been an inspiration making it as the league's first deaf offensive player. He's a great story and a great human being, but his deficiencies as a fullback are well-documented. He was a running back at UCLA before converting to fullback in the NFL, and game film shows continued struggles as a run blocker.

As I've hinted in a recent article, fullbacks in today's professional game must be strong blockers to survive, and Seattle invested a 7th round pick to draft Kiero Small. Considering how much the position has been devalued in recent years, the team's willingness to use a coveted draft choice on Small speaks volumes about expectations for him. He's a powerful blocker who loves to hit defenders at the point of attack and has shown plenty of ability to make plays with the football in his hands as a runner and receiver.

Coleman and Spencer Ware are both solid players who could contribute for other teams, but it'd be a major upset if either one of them took the starting nod over Small. The team drafted him to become Michael Robinson's long-term replacement, and I don't see any diversions from that plan happening during training camp barring injury.

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