Clayton: What to watch in Seahawks’ preseason opener vs Chargers
Finally, the Seahawks get a chance to go on the field and play a real game of football. That comes on Sunday when the Seahawks visit the Los Angeles Chargers in a 5 p.m. game on 710 ESPN Seattle.
Preseason openers usually call for starters to play only two or three series, so don’t expect to see a lot of starters Sunday evening.
With that in mind, let’s get into some of the things to watch on Sunday.
• Wide receivers. Most likely there are five locks to make the team: Doug Baldwin, Tyler Lockett, Paul Richardson, Jermaine Kearse and rookie Amara Darboh. There is a good chance the Seahawks keep six. Those to watch are seventh-round choice David Moore, last year’s seventh-round pick Kenny Lawler, Kasen Williams, Tanner McEvoy, speedster Cyrus Gray and possible returner-receiver-running back J.D. McKissic.
• Running backs. Thomas Rawls, Eddie Lacy and C.J. Prosise are locks, but it’s really interesting after that. Alex Collins, who is having a good camp, is being challenged by seventh-round pick Chris Carson. Former 49er Mike Davis isn’t bad. The Seahawks should be able to keep four running backs.
• Offensive line. This will be the first test to see how well the left side of the line looks with Luke Joeckel, George Fant and Rees Odhiambo. Ethan Pocic is giving Germain Ifedi a battle at right tackle. Mark Glowinski should have the edge on Oday Aboushi. Two linemen to watch, though, are Joey Hunt, who is fighting hard to be the backup center and make the roster, and undrafted free agent Jordan Roos.
• Defensive line. The locks are Cliff Avril, Michael Bennett, Jarran Reed, Ahtyba Rubin, Frank Clark, rookie Nazair Jones and Cassius Marsh. What to watch is how they use Jones and Reed. Reed, trimmer than last year, is getting some work as an inside pass-rusher in pass-rushing situations. Jones looks decent as a run-stopper. Quinton Jefferson is another player to watch for his inside pass-rush in nickel.
• Linebacker. Some of the players think this is the deepest linebackers group they’ve had under Pete Carroll. Michael Wilhoite gets the early nod at strong-side linebacker. Terence Garvin has good range. Michael Morgan was the starting SAM last year and is back with the team competing. Players really like D.J. Alexander, the Pro Bowl special teamer acquired from the Kansas City Chiefs in a trade. The Seahawks would like to see what they have in Marcus Smith, but he isn’t expected to play Sunday because of an injury.
• Secondary. The big watch will be at cornerback where third-round pick Shaquill Griffin makes his NFL debut, starting for the injured Jeremy Lane. The Seahawks will also be looking at Neiko Thorpe, DeAndre Elliott and Mike Tyson. Delano Hill has been hurt. Tedric Thompson will make his debut at free safety. Expect Bradley McDougald to get plenty of playing time at safety.
• Special teams. All eyes will be on Blair Walsh, the Seahawks’ new kicker. After going 2 for 4 on field goals in his first day of camp, Walsh has been consistently making his attempts. He says he’s confident. Even though he says his confidence was good last year, he fell out of favor with the Vikings, being released after making just 75 percent of his field-goal attempts in 2016 while the memory of his missed field goal that allowed the Seahawks to escape Minnesota with a playoff win the previous season lingered.
Want more John Clayton? Listen on-demand to his weekday and Saturday shows as well as his “Cold Hard Facts” and “Clayton’s Morning Drive” segments on 710 ESPN Seattle. Also, check out his all-new “Schooled” podcast and look for his columns twice a week on 710Sports.com.