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Three players to watch in the Seahawks’ preseason opener

Seahawks fans will get their first real look at Seattle's 2018 first-round pick RB Rashaad Penny. (AP)

With so many new faces on this year’s Seahawks, there are plenty of position groups to keep an eye on. However, starters will have limited playing time in Seattle’s preseason opener against the Indianapolis Colts, so it’s still a bit early to get a good grasp on starting units like the defensive and offensive lines.

John Clayton’s primer to Seahawks’ preseason opener vs Colts

Here are a few players who have a chance to have some significant playing time – and capture the intrigue of fans – Thursday night:

CB Tre Flowers

Seattle’s 2018 fifth-round pick Tre Flowers has a chance to start at right cornerback with Byron Maxwell nursing a groin/hip flexor injury. Starters usually play only a series or two in the first preseason contest, so it wouldn’t be a surprise if the Seahawks rested Maxwell tonight.

Flowers was a standout safety at Oklahoma State – a team captain who led his team in tackles in 2017 – but Seattle is converting him to cornerback. Head coach Pete Carroll has lauded his speed and length (at 6-feet-3 with 34-inch arms, Carroll said Flowers could be one of the tallest corners he’s coached). Maxwell and left cornerback Shaquill Griffin are the likely starters for the regular season opener, but it will be interesting to watch the development of younger defensive backs as Seattle looks to move on from their core group of All-Pros in Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor, and potentially Earl Thomas.

More: Tre Flowers get an early chance to make his case

FS Tedric Thompson

Like Flowers, Thompson is a young defensive back who can make the most of his playing time in the absence of longtime veterans.

With Thomas in the midst of a holdout and Chancellor prematurely ending his 2018 season on the Reserve/PUP list, Seattle has been testing Thompson at free safety and Delano Hill at strong safety (with veteran Bradley McDougald rotating between the two positions).

As of now, Thompson has seen the most time with starters in training camp. A regular starter would normally have limited time, but Thompson could see extended action Thursday as he works to fill in for Thomas. He’s looked good in camp and has received praise from teammates like McDougald (who called him a fast, sideline-to-sideline safety) and Bobby Wagner.

More: Carroll: Thompson, Martin standing out on Seahawks’ D

RB Rashaad Penny

Seahawks fans will get their first real look at Seattle’s 2018 first-round pick in the game against the Colts.

This offseason, Carroll emphasized the Seahawks’ goal to return to being a dominant running team. The front office backed up that goal with specific offseason moves to bolster the run: they bulked up the offensive line with free agent right guard D.J. Fluker, added two blocking tight ends in Ed Dickson and rookie Will Dissly, and drafted a running back in the first round (just their second first-round pick in five years).

Carroll said earlier this week that all five running backs (Penny, Chris Carson, C.J. Prosise, Mike Davis and J.D. McKissic) will see playing time against the Colts. (Another potential sighting could be former Michigan State Spartan Gerald Holmes, who signed with Seattle on Wednesday.)

Given the focus on the run game, it will be interesting to see the performance from all of Seattle’s halfbacks. But Penny’s rookie status and draft investment make him an intriguing watch for Thursday night.

Listen to Seahawks vs. Colts live on 710 ESPN Seattle, with the pregame show starting at 5 p.m. and play-by-play beginning at 7 p.m.