Seahawks Week: Seattle needs production from tight ends early

Welcome to "Seahawks Week", Rumblers!  In an effort to learn all that we can about the Buffalo Bills' season opening opponent, the Seattle Seahawks, we'll be joined once per day by John Morgan of Field Gulls throughout this week.  John is a superbly knowledgeable blogger when it comes to the X's and O's of the game, and he'll give us some excellent perspective on the Seahawks as a team heading into Sunday's tilt.  To see all posts related to Seahawks Week, click here.

This, folks, is our final installment of "Seahawks Week".  I'd like to publicly thank John Morgan for the wealth of Seahawks knowledge he's provided us throughout this week leading up to the game; now we know our opponent better than we could have imagined heading into opening weekend.

Our last topic?  Rookie tight end John Carlson.  Can he have an impact in Seattle right away?  John's thoughts below...

Buffalo Rumblings: One of my personal favorite prospects pre-draft that I would have loved to have seen the Bills grab was TE John Carlson.  We know he sits atop Seattle's depth chart at this point; how has he looked through the pre-season, and how big will his role be in Seattle as a rookie?

John Morgan, Field Gulls: Not so sensational during the preseason. He never was a big contributor and was most noteworthy for his penalties. That surprised and disappointed me, because I fully expected the polished Carlson to have a big preseason and win the starting spot outright. Luckily he won the spot, because the team needs him to play well his first season.

For Carlson, it's not so much his fantasy stats, though plentiful receptions would be keen, but his support abilities. First, the team needs a tight end that can aggressively stretch the seam and free Seattle's wide receivers from a safety assault over the middle. Second, Carlson needs to step up his run blocking. Shaun Alexander's 2005 tour through the various end zones of the NFL was built on a balanced attack that could run or pass from multiple formations.

If he can do those two things, Carlson will play a major part in Seattle's offense, no matter his total receptions. If he can't, Seattle will again be forced into consistent 3 and 4 wide receiver sets.

***

I appreciate the fact that Carlson needs only to play a supporting role in his rookie season, but I don't think that's the case in Week 1 - the only Seahawks game that matters for us.  Seattle is dinged up in their receiving corps, and unless the Bills become suddenly, maddeningly deficient at defending the toss sweep on Sunday, Seattle is going to have to throw well to beat the Bills.  I'm not sure I can confidently say that Courtney Taylor and Nate Burleson can beat the Bills through the air; Carlson needs to be a receiving threat on Sunday to maximize Seattle's chances of notching a road win.

I liked Carlson pre-draft, and I think the Seahawks have found themselves a consistent long-term starter at the position.  I don't think he's ready to contribute in a statistically meaningful way, however; Seattle may be forced to play Jeb Putzier at tight end in obvious passing downs against the Bills.  To be quite frank, I like our chances defending a receiving corps consisting of Burleson, Taylor, Carlson, Putzier, Maurice Morris and Julius Jones.  Of course, I've been wrong before (see: Willie Parker, "who the hell is he?" RB, Pittsburgh, in 2004 season finale).

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