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Originally published Wednesday, September 2, 2009 at 5:30 PM

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Final exhibition could be final chance for some Seahawks

Roster spots will be up for grabs when Seattle hosts Raiders at Qwest Field

Seattle Times staff reporter

Tonight

Oakland @ Seahawks, 7 p.m., Ch. 5, 770/100.7

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First impressions might be important, but Seattle's final exhibition game will have more lasting significance for players hoping to win one of the Seahawks' final spots on the roster.

Seattle plays Oakland tonight at Qwest Field to end the exhibition schedule, which means one last chance for the couple dozen players trying to make a case for one of the 53 spots on Seattle's regular-season roster.

"There will be some decisions that are made based upon what happens," coach Jim Mora said.

The fourth exhibition game is usually pretty forgettable for the front-line starters. For the past few years, most of Seattle's starters have sat out the game entirely. Mora has not specified his plans for playing time, but indicated that the starters might see some time.

The real importance of this game will occur a little farther down the food chain, on the second and third tiers of the depth chart. For a handful of players, Thursday's game is the culmination of months of work and could be the difference between a full-time job and a spot on the practice squad or a pink slip.

"After a long offseason, a long [training] camp, and three preseason games, you'd think that all the decisions have been made," Mora said, "but they really haven't been. There's just some races that are too close to call."

A look at some of those:

1. Defensive line

The first two tiers of the depth chart are set. Patrick Kerney and Cory Redding are the starting ends, Darryl Tapp and Lawrence Jackson the backups. Colin Cole and Brandon Mebane will start at tackle, Craig Terrill and Red Bryant are the backups.

After that it gets interesting. The Seahawks have generally kept five ends and five tackles. Has Nick Reed played his way past Baraka Atkins at end? Has Michael Bennett shown enough promise at defensive tackle to merit a roster spot? Or will the number of defensive linemen be a casualty of depth concerns elsewhere?

2. Kicker

After the Seahawks carried two kickers last season, this is an either-or decision between veteran Olindo Mare and Brandon Coutu. Mare has missed both of his field-goal attempts during the exhibition season, but has a stronger leg on kickoffs. Coutu has missed only one of his 12 field-goal attempts in exhibition games. Kicking is so often a game of inches, which is all that might end up separating these two.

3. Wide receiver

The first four receivers are solidified with Nate Burleson, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Deion Branch and rookie Deon Butler. Courtney Taylor, Ben Obomanu and Jordan Kent the top three candidates vying for one, maybe two roster spots. Each has his own attributes. Taylor once again has turned in a strong camp and has the athletic ability to go up and get the ball. Obomanu can return punts, and Kent has had an impact as a gunner on the punt-coverage team. A big play tonight could turn out to be the clincher in this competition.

4. Tight end

Joe Newton has put in two years of work on the practice squad and has made a push to be the third tight end, but Cameron Morrah — the team's seventh-round pick — has shown promise as a receiving threat.

5. Fullback

Other than kicker, this is the starting spot that might be most undecided. Owen Schmitt is listed as the starter, but Seattle's rushing game improved after Justin Griffith entered games in the second quarter.

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