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Seahawks head to camp with QB questions

TUESDAY, JULY 24, 2012

RENTON, Wash. – When Pete Carroll and the Seattle Seahawks broke from minicamp in mid-June, the focus heading into training camp was on a three-way competition for starting quarterback.

While figuring out that key position is still a major concern, it’s no longer the biggest story as the Seahawks prepare to start training camp Saturday.

Marshawn Lynch’s arrest for driving under the influence in California, and the subsequent debate on whether he faces suspension from the league, has become the No. 1 topic surrounding the Seahawks. Not far behind is the decision to release wide receiver Mike Williams two weeks before the start of camp.

What type of discipline Lynch might face from the league has become the top concern for the Seahawks after a breakout 2011 season. His reward was a $31 million, four-year contract and affirmation that Lynch is the current face of the franchise.

Lynch has been charged by the district attorney in Alameda County, Calif., and faces an initial court date of Aug. 14.

Lynch had two previous run-ins while he played in Buffalo, the last resulting in a three-game suspension in 2009.

While the Seahawks wait to get answers on Lynch, they have a number of critical questions to answer on the field before the opener Sept. 9 at Arizona. None is bigger than deciding who the starting quarterback will be.

Seattle will enter training camp with Matt Flynn, Tarvaris Jackson and Russell Wilson splitting reps, with Jackson getting the first snaps with the No. 1 offense. But all three will get equal time – at least early in camp – with the No. 1 unit. All Carroll has said about the timeline for the competition is it’ll likely go into the start of exhibition games, which begin Aug. 11 at home against Tennessee.

Each quarterback brings his own strengths to the competition. Jackson is the incumbent and won over the locker room last year by playing through a painful pectoral injury, yet helping Seattle go 5-3 in the second half of the season. Flynn flashed in his few opportunities playing behind Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay and was one of the hottest free agent commodities, getting a three-year, $26 million deal.

Wilson was a star in college with all the skills NFL coaches want, just lacking height at 5-foot-11.

“I don’t think we look at it like we’re going against each other. We’re trying to help each other out,” Flynn said. “It’s not like there’s any bad blood coming out here. It’s not like that. Everyone’s trying to compete.”

Whoever wins the QB competition will be throwing to a mostly unproven receiving corps. Sidney Rice will get his first extensive work since having offseason surgery on both shoulders and is the clear No. 1 receiver if he can stay healthy. But the decision to cut Williams opens up an opportunity for Golden Tate, Kris Durham, Ben Obomanu or someone else to step into the No. 2 role, with Doug Baldwin working inside as the slot receiver. Seattle also traded for tight end Kellen Winslow Jr., who could become a major piece in the passing game.

“We feel very good about the progress we’ve made. So we’ll move forward with that and we’ll see how it goes,” Carroll said. “We expect to really come out flying in camp. We’re going to hit it going full speed.”

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