There may never have been a more nationally anticipated debut on the Seahawks than Russell Wilson taking the field tomorrow. His story, his talent, his personality has pierced the cone of silence that typically envelops Northwest sports teams. It has also muffled a number of other stories that would otherwise be getting a brighter spotlight.
Much has been made of the money spent on Matt Flynn in free agency, only to have him end up as a back-up. Remember, Jason Jones was the first player the team hosted. Most fans have not had the chance to see how he can disrupt an interior offensive line since he sat out most of the pre-season. Injuries have been a challenge for him, but he is set to play tomorrow. The Cardinals will be focused on helping their tackles against the Seahawks edge rushers, which should give Jones a chance to make a serious impact against an imperfect interior.
Winston Guy is a name unknown to all but the hardcore Seahawks fans. If you know that he will possibly play more than starting middle linebacker Bobby Wagner tomorrow, give yourself a pat on the back. Wagner comes off the field in nickel situations, and Guy could be the extra defender brought on in many situations. He will freelance between safety and linebacker, blitzing and covering. As the Seahawks speed rushers on the edge circle wide and Jones occupies the interior, look for Guy to come free in the space in-between.
Wagner is possibly the most silent starting story among the rookies. The team signed, and then traded, veteran Barrett Ruud. David Hawthorne was a great player, slowed mightily by a knee injury last season. Wagner adds speed never seen before at middle linebacker for Seattle. Lofa Tatupu owns the francise record for tackles by a rookie in a season (86). We will learn if Wagner has what it takes to challenge this starting tomorrow.
Braylon Edwards is a few years removed from being one of the best receivers in football. He appears healthy and hungry. He gets a surprise start due to Golden Tate’s injury. Should he emerge as a legitimate weapon opposite Sidney Rice and Doug Baldwin, this offense starts to look very different.
Marshawn Lynch will hopefully play, but expect to see Robert Turbin play a fair amount. This guy is a serious upgrade at backup running back, and that is not a shot at Justin Forsett. Turbin is a complete back, who should play a large role this season.
J.R. Sweezy is arguably the best rookie story of the bunch. He will face a physical Cardinals line. How nasty will he be? Most Seahawks fans would accept the 15-yard penalty to see Darnell Dockett get a taste of his own medicine.
Bruce Irvin was the team’s first round pick, and will get a reasonable amount of attention for it. Still, this is a player who absolutely should set the Seahawks rookie sack record. Leroy Hill owns the record (7.5, 2005). He very well could be the most impactful pass rusher drafted by this team since Michael Sinclair.
Watch Wilson. Enjoy his debut. Keep an eye on the surrounding cast that could help him take this team from good-to-great.