Practice squad stocked with familiar faces

Posted Sep 1, 2012

When the Seahawks signed seven players to their practice squad on Saturday, all were returning after being released on Friday – including Josh Portis and Ricardo Lockette.

The Seahawks went with potential, and also familiarity, in signing seven players to their practice squad.

Quarterback Josh Portis and wide receiver Ricardo Lockette were among the player signed on Saturday. Each had been released on Friday’s roster cut to 53 players.

Also signed: linebacker Korey Toomer; tight end Sean McGrath; offensive lineman Rishaw Johnson; linebacker Allen Bradford; and safety DeShawn Shead. They also were among the Friday cuts.

The release-and-return move with Portis is shrewd. Waiving him opened a roster spot for an extra position player, but he’ll still be around to continue developing his raw, but obvious, skills by getting some reps quarterbacking the scout team that works against the Seahawks’ defense in practice. Last year, Portis made the 53-man roster as a rookie free agent, but was inactive for 15 games.

When training camp opened, it appeared Portis might be the odd-man-out as incumbent starter Tarvaris Jackson, free-agent acquisition Matt Flynn and rookie Russell Wilson were competing to be the starter this season. Wilson won the job, Flynn is the backup and Jackson was traded to the Buffalo Bills.

Lockette is the fastest player in the locker room, but also needs time to develop his skills. He spent the first 13 games last season on the practice squad before being signed to the active roster for the final three games – when he had 61- and 44-yard receptions. But with the additions of Braylon Edwards and Charly Martin this offseason, there wasn’t room for Lockette on the 53-man roster.

Lockette beat the club to the announcement of his return by tweeting, “God Bless America & God Bless the Seattle Seahawks (Cortez Kennedy) headed to the VMCA to confirm I’ll stay!!!!!”  That, of course, is a reference to the closing line from Kennedy’s speech last month when the former Seahawks defensive tackle was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Toomer, a fourth-round pick in April’s NFL Draft, was the only member of the Seahawks’ 10-player class who didn’t make the 53-man roster. But the team likes his skillset as a linebacker and also ability to help on special teams.

McGrath, a rookie free agent, was up against as far as winning a spot on the 53-man roster because of the trade the club made with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in May to acquire Kellen Wilson – who was then released on Saturday – and the emergence during training camp of Anthony McCoy, a sixth-round draft choice in 2010. Zach Miller, who was signed in free agency last year, remains the starter. McGrath caught five passes for a 12.8-yard average during the preseason.

Johnson, another rookie free agent, caught coach Pete Carroll’s eye early and the guard from California University (Pa.) got some work on the right side with the No. 1 line. That was while incumbent starter John Moffitt was still rehabbing the knee injury that ended his rookie season, and before seventh-round draft choice J.R. Sweezy became the surprise of camp. Despite having played defensive tackle at North Carolina State, Sweezy started the final three preseason games at right guard and could remain there for next Sunday’s regular-season opener against the Cardinals in Arizona.

Bradford finished last season on the Seahawks’  practice squad. A former running back, he has made the transition to linebacker. He had a team-high five tackles in Friday night’s victory over the Raiders to close out their unbeaten preseason.

Shead is a rookie free agent from Portland State. He had two tackles against the Raiders.