RENTON, Wash. -- The Seattle Seahawks' Super Bowl-winning team from two seasons ago possessed so much depth that when starters became unavailable, the backups sometimes provided an upgrade. That depth took a big enough hit last season to make Seattle vulnerable, particularly after injuries affected multiple defensive contributors in the Super Bowl.
Coach Pete Carroll thinks depth has been restored sufficiently enough to make the 2015 more like the 2013 version than the one that lost a 24-14 lead against New England in the Super Bowl last season.
"I really feel like we did a couple years ago," Carroll said after practice Wednesday. "A couple years ago, we were really excited. At every position, there were guys fighting for play time. We really knew if the next guy jumped in, he was going to be able to play, too. It feels like that now."
It's easy to see improved depth at the receiving positions with veteran trade addition Jimmy Graham and rookie third-round pick Tyler Lockett joining the group. The defensive front seven looks deeper with rookie second-rounder Frank Clark playing end in the base unit and rushing from the interior on passing downs (Carroll said he loves seeing Clark's 4.6-second speed in the 40-yard dash on display against offensive guards). Defensive tackle Brandon Mebane, defensive tackle Jordan Hill, defensive end Cassius Marsh and linebacker Kevin Pierre-Lewis are back from injuries that sidelined them for all or parts of last season.
The Seahawks' depth in the secondary is being tested now as Seattle practices without two of its best players, strong safety Kam Chancellor (holdout) and free safety Earl Thomas (expected back from injury before the season). DeShawn Shead and Steven Terrell are starting in their absence. Shead is well-established in the program. The others have more to prove. Rookies Ronald Martin, Keenan Lambert and Ryan Murphy are the backups at present. The assumption is that Thomas and Chancellor will be there when the games count, which would alleviate depth concerns at the position.
On offense, the line looks like a major concern from the outside after Seattle traded center Max Unger to New Orleans in the Graham deal. But the line was where Carroll pointed first when explaining why he thought overall team depth was improved. It's a largely unknown group. Unger's likely replacement, Lemuel Jeanpierre, is the oldest offensive lineman on the team, and he turned only 28 in May. No other player at the position is even 27.
"We are really young on the offensive line, but the quality of the guys is really exciting," Carroll said. "This might be the best group we've had there. It will take us a month or so to have a sense for that. We are encouraged by that. I feel like it is a little bit different from last year [in terms of overall team depth]. This is a very competitive roster at this time."