January 2, 2014 in Sports

Practice squad players vital to Seahawks

They go through all the drills biding their time
Bob Condotta Seattle Times

RENTON – Akeem Auguste shows up to work each day to a locker that features Doug Baldwin to his right, and Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas a few steps to his left.

Yet Auguste, a member of the Seahawks practice squad, would undoubtedly pass unnoticed through a crowd of even the most die-hard Seahawks fans.

As the rest of the practice squad, Auguste takes part in every workout and meeting during the week, then spends game days on the sideline out of uniform – and out of sight and out of mind of the 68,000-plus who cram CenturyLink Field on Sundays.

What matters to Auguste, though, is that he gains the notice of his teammates and coaches.

He has accomplished that, which became apparent during a recent interview. While Auguste talked to a reporter after practice, Baldwin and quarterback Russell Wilson each interrupted to throw in a few compliments.

“That’s a good football player right there, man,” Wilson said. “He (intercepted) me in practice the other day.”

Such words, Auguste hopes, foreshadow getting what he really wants – a chance to join Wilson and the rest of the Seahawks on the field someday.

“And you never know when that might be,” said receiver Phil Bates, another member of the practice squad.

In fact, Seattle has five times this season promoted players from the practice squad to the active roster, including receivers Ricardo Lockette and Bryan Walters, who each played significantly Sunday in the NFC West Division-clinching victory over the Rams.

“You’re always one little injury from getting called up, so you always have to stay prepared to play,” said Walters.

Practice-squad players get a minimum salary of $6,000 per week. By comparison, the weekly minimum salary for a player on the active roster is just more than $23,000.

Players on the practice squad can be paid more than the minimum. The Seahawks this season were reported to be paying defensive back DeShawn Shead and defensive tackle D’Anthony Smith each more than $8,500 a week, in part as an inducement to keep them on the practice squad.

Practice-squad players can be signed to the active roster of another team at any time.

Shead, a second-year player from Portland State who was promoted to Seattle’s active roster Nov. 27, also was on the Seahawks’ active roster last season for four games and said he didn’t want to go anywhere else, confident another chance with the Seahawks was coming.

“I was just being patient, waiting for my opportunity.”

The Seahawks have made 47 transactions involving the practice squad since the beginning of the season.

Thoughts and opinions on this story? Click here to comment >>

Get stories like this in a free daily email