Seahawks' starters in NFC West context

Teams relying on players coming off injuries and others who are unproven head into the 2011 NFL season with fewer returning starters.

The Seattle Seahawks are one of those teams.

Four projected Seattle starters -- Kam Chancellor, Leroy Hill, John Moffitt and James Carpenter -- started zero games last season. Three more -- Tarvaris Jackson, Max Unger, and Walter Thurmond -- made a single start.

Those are high numbers, a reflection of the Seahawks' youth movement and reliance upon talented players coming off injuries.

The figure for the San Francisco 49ers is one projected starter with zero 2010 starts (Ray McDonald). It is likewise one for the St. Louis Rams (Lance Kendricks) and up to three for the Arizona Cardinals (Dan Williams, possibly Anthony Sherman and A.J. Jefferson or Patrick Peterson).

Arizona has a high number of 2010 starts for players projected as backups for 2011, even after I moved Deuce Lutui into the lineup over Rex Hadnot at right guard. Richard Marshall, Floyd Womack, Stephen Spach, Jeff King and Paris Lenon or Stewart Bradley are backups with at least 11 starts last season.

Now, a look at Seattle's projected starters and why so many weren't in NFL lineups much last season:

  • Leroy Hill, LB (0): Opened last season as a backup, then suffered Achilles' tendon injury that landed him on injured reserve Oct. 1.

  • James Carpenter, RT (0): Was finishing his college career at Alabama last season.

  • John Moffitt, RG (0): Was finishing his college career at Wisconsin last season.

  • Kam Chancellor, SS (0): Spent rookie season backing up veteran Lawyer Milloy.

  • Tarvaris Jackson, QB (1): Backed up Brett Favre in Minnesota.

  • Max Unger, C (1): Suffered toe injury in opener, landed on injured reserve.

  • Walter Thurmond, CB (1): A rookie last season, Thurmond was still recovering from a serious knee injury suffered in college.

  • Alan Branch, DT (3): Rotation player for the Cardinals.

  • Michael Robinson, FB (4): Fullbacks aren't always on the field.

  • Sidney Rice, WR (5): Missed most of the season following hip surgery.

  • Red Bryant, DE (7): Suffered season-ending injury to ACL against Oakland.

  • Russell Okung, LT (10): Multiple ankle injuries set him back as a rookie.

  • Robert Gallery, LG (12): Had a hamstring injury and missed four games with Oakland.

  • Brandon Mebane, DT (12): Missed four games after suffering a calf injury.

  • Mike Williams, WR (13): Foot injuries sidelined him for stretches.

  • Marshawn Lynch, RB (14): Played 16 games, but did not start first and last games of regular season.

  • Zach Miller, TE (15): While with Raiders, missed game against Kansas City with foot injury.

  • Marcus Trufant, CB (16): Played through the ankle injury he suffered against San Diego.

  • Earl Thomas, FS (16): Thomas isn't big for a safety, but he throws his body around and held up well as a rookie.

  • David Hawthorne, LB (16): Has played in all but two games during three-year career.

  • Aaron Curry, LB (16): Started every game in 2010 after missing final two of rookie season.

  • Chris Clemons, DE (16): Played hurt and still produced, leading the division in sacks.

Four projected Seattle starters missed at least half the 2010 season to injuries (Hill, Unger, Rice, Bryant). Three others missed at least one-fourth the season to injuries (Okung, Gallery, Mebane). Four others were backups (Jackson, Thurmond, Branch, Chancellor). Two more were in college (Moffitt, Carpenter).

The team is counting on increased production from most of these players.

The chart totals 2010 starts for current NFC West players, regardless of where they played last season. An initial league-wide analysis showed the Rams with the highest figure and the Seahawks with the lowest, but I haven't had time to verify the numbers for every team in the league. I did verify them for NFC West teams, breaking out the numbers for projected backups and starters.

The Rams have added quite a few veteran players to their roster this season.

2010 Starts by Current NFC West Players