2016 Seahawks Preview: Who Starts at Strongside Linebacker?

There will be plenty of intriguing competitions taking place throughout training camp, but on a roster as talented and experienced as Seattle’s there aren’t too many wide-open battles for starting jobs. One position battle that is at this point almost impossible to handicap, however, is the one for the starting job at strongside linebacker.

While Seattle’s middle linebacker and weakside linebacker spots are solidified, there’s no clear favorite as to who will start along with Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright in the base defense now that Bruce Irvin is gone. 

Returning starters:Bobby Wagner
K.J. Wright
Additions:

Steve Longa (UDFA)
Kyle Coleman (UDFA)
Pete Robertson (UDFA)

Key losses:

Bruce Irvin (free agency)

Last season:

The initial 53-man roster included six linebackers: Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright, Bruce Irvin, Kevin Pierre-Louis, Mike Morgan, Brock Coyle

What’s At Stake In Training Camp

With Irvin having signed with Oakland in free agency, the Seahawks have an open starting job, and several different options to fill it, each of whom brings different strengths to the competition.

Mike Morgan knows the defense as well as anyone—he’s heading into his 10th season playing for Carroll, first at USC, then in Seattle—and he also has starting experience having filled in for Irvin last year. Eric Pinkins, meanwhile, is a former defensive back who moved to linebacker last year, meaning he has exceptional speed and athleticism for the position. Cassius Marsh is an option as well as he attempts to make a similar defensive-end-to-linebacker conversion to the one Irvin made early in his career. Marsh doesn’t have game experience at linebacker with the Seahawks, but his play on special teams last year shows he can make plays in space. A fourth name in the competition is Kevin Pierre-Louis, an extremely fast and athletic linebacker who up to this point has primarily played the weakside spot.

“The SAM linebacker spot is going to be a really good one to watch," Carroll said. "That’s going to be wide open to see what happens. Mike Mo brings all the experience and so he would start if we had to start a game today, he’s just ahead of the other guys. But both Cassius and Pink have done a great job of battling and those guys are getting a great shot.”

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