JERSEY CITY, N.J. (AP) — Richard Sherman, Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch deservedly draw the attention for what they've done in getting the Seattle Seahawks to the Super Bowl.
Players like Jermaine Kearse, Walter Thurmond and Malcolm Smith are just as big a reason why Seattle is facing Denver in Sunday's championship game.
Seattle may have one of the better starting lineups in the NFL, but the depth that general manager John Schneider and coach Pete Carroll have amassed is equally impressive. It's the reason they can rotate eight different defensive linemen. It's why when Brandon Browner was injured and Thurmond suspended, Byron Maxwell could step in and the play in Seattle's secondary not suffer.
It's a regular refrain in the Seattle locker room to hear teammates say the Seahawks reserves could be starters on other teams. And there is some proof: in the past year 23 players once with Seattle have spent time on the 53-man roster of other teams.
"It's crazy because we're always saying our backups could be starters. We always say that," strong safety Kam Chancellor said. "Those guys, people don't see this, but in practice those guys play just as good as us. They're making plays, getting the ball. Those guys contribute on special teams. Our special teams are probably one of the best.
"Those guys put in work on special teams and it just goes unseen."
When Carroll and Schneider took over, there was a revolving door of roster moves —839 in total since before the start of the 2010 season — that followed in an effort to make a roster that was competitive beyond just the starters on each side of the ball. They wanted a depth chart that was the envy of the NFL. They wanted their reserves coveted by other teams. They wanted guys they were going to be released grabbed off the waiver wire the second they were made available.
Seattle got its wish. Of the players released in the past year, five ended up in Jacksonville and four landed in Kansas City.
"John and I have joined together aggressively to compete at every single turn, at every opportunity whatever it may be, to see if there's something in there for us," Carroll said. "He's done a great job of having the competitive will to keep pushing and fighting and clawing and scratching to have the opportunity that has sent us down the road early on with the hundreds of guys that came through the program."