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Youth movement marches on

Posted Sep 3, 2011

Twenty-one of the players left after the Seahawks cut their roster to 53 on Saturday are rookies and first- or second-year players, and only 10 remain from the team coach Pete Carroll inherited 19 months ago.


Eleven rookies, including undrafted free agents Josh Portis, Doug Baldwin and Jeron Johnson. Nine second-year players, including three starters – left tackle Russell Okung, free safety Earl Thomas and strong safety Kam Chancellor.

Twenty-three players who are in their first season with the Seahawks, including seven or eight starters – quarterback Tarvaris Jackson, wide receiver Sidney Rice, tight end Zach Miller, left guard Robert Gallery, right guard John Moffitt, defensive tackle Alan Branch, cornerback Brandon Browner and possibly right tackle James Carpenter. Only 10 players left from the team coach Pete Carroll inherited in January of 2010.

That’s what the Seahawks were left with Saturday after making 27 roster moves to reach the NFL-mandated limit of 53 players. While it is a 53-man roster, just don’t call it the final 53-man roster. Not with ever-active general manager John Schneider in the building.

ROSTER CUT TO 53

The Seahawks made 27 moves on Saturday to reach the league-mandated roster limit of 53 players:

Placed on injured reserve
TE John Carlson
WR Isaiah Stanback
DL Jimmy Wilkerson

Placed on Reserve/PUP
WR Deon Butler
CB Roy Lewis
TE Cameron Morrah

Waived/injured
DE Pierre Allen (hamstring)

Released
FB Dorson Boyce
WR Chris Carter
RB Thomas Clayton
DT Colin Cole
CB Kennard Cox
OG Paul Fanaika
DL Maurice Fountain
OL Mike Gibson
DE David Howard
LB Michael Johnson
LB/DE Jameson Konz
FS Mark LeGree
WR Ricardo Lockette
LB Mike Morgan
S Josh Pinkard
OT William Robinson
DE A.J. Schable
WR Owen Spencer
RB Vai Taua
WR Patrick Williams

For a closer look at who’s left on the 53-man roster, click here.

Telling players who have been with you through training camp and the preseason that their time has ended is not fun, especially for someone like Carroll who has been there.

“I remember getting cut back in the World League a million years ago,” Carroll said before making his latest rounds of moves. “And I still remember everything the guy said to me – every word of it.

“So we treat that with high regard. For the most part, the guys that have lasted this long for us, we trust and we could play with them on our football team. They’ve worked hard enough and learned enough to last this long and those guys could have a spot under some circumstances.”

With the remaining 53, youth isn’t just being served, Carroll and his coaching staff are counting on the young players to make plays – starting with next Sunday’s regular-season opener against the 49ers in San Francisco.

“We have some big personnel decision to make this weekend,” Carroll said after Friday night’s preseason finale – a 20-7 victory over the Oakland Raiders at CenturyLink Field.

“Then we’ll (come) back on Monday, take advantage of the (extra) day and get a little bit of practice … and get ready for a big week to start off the season. I’m excited for that.” 

Just as many of the players who survived Saturday’s cut were.

Jeron Johnson, a rookie free agent safety from Boise State, wasn’t sure what to expect after Friday night’s game. But he’s still around.

“I have no regrets over what I did,” Johnson said. “I feel I put everything out on the table. Everything I had to offer. Now it’s up to Mr. Schneider and coach Carroll. It’s out of my control.”

And here he is. It’s a similar story with Lemuel Jeanpierre, a second-year player who was on the practice squad last year; and Browner, who played the past four seasons in the CFL but likely will start at right cornerback against the 49ers; and Doug Baldwin, a rookie free agent receiver/returner from Stanford who was one of the stars of training camp and the preseason, but still wasn’t sure he’d make it past the cut to 53. 

“Almost each guy has his own story,” is the way Carroll put it on Thursday.

The flipside, of course, is those players who were among the 27 roster moves the team made on Saturday – especially the 21 who were released.  

Two more holdover players were jettisoned – Colin Cole, a free-agent addition in 2009 who started at nose tackle the past two seasons; and Mike Gibson, who started who started eight games at guard last season after being signed to the practice squad in 2009.

Also gone is Thomas Clayton, who led the team in rushing during the preseason and scored his second touchdown of the summer against the Raiders.

“This is an awesome team. I’ve really loved being on this team,” he said in the locker room after the game. “The guys here are awesome. It’s almost feels like college. It does. I’m serious. I mean, I love these guys. I just really hope to be a part of this thing.”

That wasn’t to be, however, because there just wasn’t room for a fourth running back behind Marshawn Lynch, Justin Forsett and Leon Washington.

Some of the players not on the 53-man roster will be around, however. Tight end John Carlson was played on injured reserve, ending his season, because he’ll have shoulder surgery to repair a torn labrum. So where defensive lineman Jimmy Wilkerson, who damaged a knee on Friday night; and former University of Washington standout Isaiah Stanback, a receiver who has been sidelined with a hamstring problem.

Three players who started training on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list will stay there – wide receiver Deon Butler, cornerback Roy Lewis and tight end Cameron Morrah. They will be eligible to join practice after six weeks, and then either be added to the active roster or placed on IR.

Even some of those players released on Saturday will return on Sunday, when the Seahawks can start compiling their eight-man practice squad.

But for now, the Seahawks have their 53, and it looks very little like the 53 they opened last season with.