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Seahawks set at the top but have depth question at tight end

Cooper Helfet is trying to make Seattle's roster as the third tight end behind Zach Miller and Luke Willson. (AP)

RENTON – Same injury, different foot for Anthony McCoy.

That means same situation, different season for the Seahawks when it comes to tight-end depth.

For the second consecutive year, the team is looking at the possibility of entering the regular season with just two players at a position where it generally has kept at least three, and in 2010, entered the season with four.

That would be tight end, where Zach Miller is back. A three-year starter with the Seahawks, Miller re-worked his contract in the offseason to make sure he'll stick around both this season and next.

Luke Willson is a promising second-year player, a fifth-round pick who last year would have been doing well to be the No. 3 tight end and a designated deep threat. Instead, he became a viable No. 2 tight end who flashed the speed to stretch a defense down the seam.

He arrived to training camp this year weighing 253 pounds, which isn't all that much bigger than he was as a rookie, but he believes he's better equipped to handle what's in store for him.

"My body feels a lot more fine-tuned to what they need to me to do," Willson said. "Last year, I was kind of figuring out what my role was. I feel a little stronger in the areas of blocking, but also was able to keep my speed up and stuff."

Willson is the kind of player who could be poised for a breakout season. He's certainly got the speed to outrun linebackers, and if he can hold up as a blocker at the edge, he will become a very potent part of Seattle's play-action passing game.

The question is the No. 3. Again.

Seattle faced the same decision last year when one of the most surprising moves in its cut to 53 players was the fact Sean McGrath was let go, eventually catching on with Kansas City.

Kellen Davis was signed after the regular-season opener and served as the No. 3 tight, his most memorable play coming during a Monday night win over New Orleans when a pass from Russell Wilson bounced off his facemask and into the hands of fullback Derrick Coleman for a touchdown.

The roster decision facing Seattle is whether Cooper Helfet is a good fit as the No. 3 tight end or whether Seattle can find a better alternative cast off elsewhere. Helfet is sure-handed but a better asset in the passing game than the running game. That might not be the best fit for a No. 3 tight end given the receiving chops Willson brings to the position.

RaShaun Allen, an undrafted rookie from Southern, has flashed at times during training camp and at 6 feet 4, 250 pounds, has a lot of potential. But he's more likely a practice-squad candidate.

LOOKING BACK

Seattle has carried an average of three tight ends into the regular season since 2010.

2013 (2): Zach Miller, Luke Willson.

2012: (3): Zach Miller, Anthony McCoy, Evan Moore.

2011 (3): Zach Miller, Anthony McCoy, Dominique Byrd.

2010 (4): John Carlson, Chris Baker, Cameron Morrah, Anthony McCoy.

About the Author


Danny O'Neil is the host of "Danny, Dave and Moore". He's the son of a logger, a graduate of the University of Washington and has been a working journalist in Seattle since 1999, first at newspapers and since 2012 at 710 ESPN Seattle. Follow Danny: @dannyoneil

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