Until DeShawn Shead can return from his torn ACL, the Seattle Seahawks will need to find at least a temporary option to start opposite Richard Sherman to begin the regular season.
While the leader in the clubhouse to earn the job is veteran Jeremy Lane, third-round pick Shaquill Griffin will likely factor into the discussion during training camp as well.
“The competition is wide open, these guys understand that,” defensive coordinator Kris Richard said. “I’ve said it for years, and I know people kind of look at me like I’m crazy, but Richard Sherman’s job is up for grabs. The competition is open, the best players are going to be out there and they’re going to play for us. The best guys are going to be out there, and if he shows he is more than able and more that capable of being out there and helping this football team, then he will play.”
Lane has played five seasons for Seattle and started a career-high nine games for the team last season. With Seattle shifting to utilize nickel defensive looks more frequently, Lane was a regular on the field. While he can play outside, the Seahawks have previously used him mostly in the slot. But with Shead not expected back until after the start of the season, Seattle needs another starter in the interim.
Griffin left a good impression during the limited activity of the offseason for Seattle’s coaches to envision how he could factor into the discussion as well.
“He’s got probably one of the best corner minds that we’ve had for a young guy around here,” Richard said. “That’s just in regards to leverage, positioning, the understanding of our coverages and where we need him to be. He has picked it up fairly quickly. We’re going to be really excited to see him strap it up and get out there and actually be able to compete for the football while it’s in the air. That’s going to be the next phase, but his technique has been improving day after day, and he has real strength. He has strength in his hands, you can tell he’s a powerful guy, and obviously his speed is there.”
Added head coach Pete Carroll: “He looks good. He looks really good. If you look at our draft class, I think I told you the other day, the guys look like they fit. They fit the expectations. He’s really diligent. He’s real fast. Technique-wise, it’s not hard for him to make it look right. Camp will be huge for him,” Carroll said.
Neiko Thorpe, sixth-round pick Mike Tyson, DeAndre Elliott and Pierre Desir will all factor in to the battle as well, but Lane and Griffin will head into camp as the favorites to win the job.