Pressure point: Seahawks

Examining who faces the most challenging season for the Seattle Seahawks and why.

Tarvaris Jackson earned the respect of his Seahawks teammates by playing through much of the 2011 with a torn pectoral muscle on his right side. Jackson never complained or made excuses. The injury made it tougher for Jackson to take hold of the starting job for the long term. The Seahawks' inability to make key plays in critical moments left them with a 7-9 record and kept them in the market for help at the position.

Jackson has gone from probable starter to potential roster casualty over the last two months. Seattle's signing of Matt Flynn from Green Bay in free agency made Jackson the presumed underdog in a two-man race for the starting job. The dynamic changed again when the Seahawks used a third-round choice for Wisconsin quarterback Russell Wilson, who subsequently impressed coaches during a recently completed rookie camp. Seahawks coach Pete Carroll is now talking about a three-man race for the starting job.

The Seahawks acquired Jackson primarily for his knowledge of coordinator Darrell Bevell's offense during a lockout-shortened 2011 offseason. Sure, they hoped Jackson might turn into something more than a stopgap, but they entered into that relationship with the shorter term in mind. That is one reason Carroll broke from his competition mantra by installing Jackson as the starter heading into camp.

Circumstances are different now. The Seahawks targeted Flynn and Wilson as potential franchise quarterbacks, not as stopgap solutions. The team has a pretty good idea what Jackson offers. Expectations are higher for Flynn and Wilson. It's now an upset if Jackson wins the starting job. It's probably an upset if the Seahawks pay him $4 million in base salary, the figure spelled out for 2012 in the two-year deal Jackson signed in July 2011.

This is looking like a most challenging year for Jackson.