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Seattle Seahawks Team Breakdown

Seattle Seahawks: Who starts at running back?

With the quarterback situation settled for now — sorry, Charlie Whitehurst, but this is still Matt Hasselbeck’s show heading into the season — every practice and exhibition game becomes a tryout at running back.

Justin Forsett and Julius Jones are the favorites to start. Both are good all-around backs with a nose for pass protection. Jones lacks panache. Forsett became the more appealing runner last season and I suspect his talents and running style will continue to grow on coach Pete Carroll.

Leon Washington will push for playing time if his surgically repaired leg heals sufficiently. Even Quinton Ganther has a chance to get some carries. This position is pretty wide open.

HOTTEST SEAT

Seahawks: Deion Branch. On the surface, this was a tough call between Branch, who has had problems staying healthy, and linebacker Leroy Hill, who has had problems staying healthy and out of trouble. Both are scheduled to earn fat salaries this season, but only Hill’s deal features guaranteed money. Seattle needs Branch, so he’s safe as long as he’s healthy, but can he stay healthy enough to be a factor?

SECRET WEAPON

Seahawks RB Leon Washington. The 49ers’ Ginn might have been a candidate here as well, but Washington is more intriguing because he was a better player before suffering a ghastly leg injury while with the New York Jets last season. Washington is scheduled to make his Seahawks practice debut at training camp. If the leg heals correctly, Washington could become a player defenses must worry about.

Washington is a rarity among running backs in that he realizes he isn’t an every-down back. He will not require 20 or 25 touches to get into a rhythm. He’ll be fine getting limited touches.

Carroll is known to covet gadget players. Washington is more than that when healthy, but he does fill a specific role. He’s definitely a secret weapon at this point because no one, including the Seahawks, can be sure what he’ll offer this season. He could become a home-run threat or he might not make it out of camp.

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