3 Takeaways from Seahawks-Raiders: Promising showing by LB depth
The Seahawks have officially wrapped up their preseason.
Seattle’s final exhibition game was a 30-19 loss to the Raiders. Despite the team’s 0-4 record this preseason, there were promising moments (like the improvements in the run game, noted by Danny O’Neil last week) and flashes from young talent (second-year receiver David Moore, who spent last year on the practice squad but now looks like a lock on the final 53-man roster).
Here are three takeaways from Thursday night’s finale:
A solid night for young linebackers
K.J. Wright said – well, tweeted – it himself during the game.
These Lbs are on 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥
— KJ (@KJ_WRIGHT34) August 31, 2018
Rookie Shaquem Griffin, who could start in relief of Wright (knee) in Week 1 of the regular season, finished the night with seven tackles. Middle linebacker Austin Calitro had five tackles and one sack in his best performance of the preseason.
Linebacker depth was a question heading into the offseason. The group has been headlined by two Pro Bowlers in Wright and Bobby Wagner, but it leaned on free agent signees Terence Garvin and Michael Wilhoite as backups last year, both of whom the Seahawks let walk in free agency.
To fill the gap, Seattle signed former first-round pick Barkevious Mingo to fill in the strongside backer role and drafted Jacob Martin (currently backing up Mingo) and Griffin (who has backed up Wright on the weakside). There’s still a drop-off from Wright and Wagner, but if the preseason showed us anything, it’s that the Seahawks have at least managed to replenish the linebacker corps with some young talent and intriguing free agent additions.
Battle is wide open for the final WR spot
Last year’s third-round pick Amara Darboh has missed playing time this preseason due to injuries. While he was expected to play in the finale as recently as Wednesday, he ultimately sat out the game.
“We almost had him cleared to play,” head coach Pete Carroll said during his postgame press conference. “They just felt like it was better to not do it one more time. So, we held him out.”
The Seahawks have invested draft capitol in Darboh, and his size makes him an ideal target for Wilson. But his inability to stay on the field certainly opened the door a bit wider for another player to snatch up the final receiver position.
Key among those candidates are Marcus Johnson, Keenan Reynolds and Damore’ea Stringfellow. Stringfellow led all receivers Thursday night thanks to an 81-yard touchdown reception from quarterback Austin Davis. Reynolds had a quiet night (one reception for 10 yards) but made key plays in last week’s loss to the Vikings, including an 11-yard catch from Russell Wilson to convert a third-and-5 that kept Seattle’s first touchdown drive alive. He also had a strong training camp, where he filled in at slot receiver for an injured Doug Baldwin.
Next time the Seahawks hit the field, it’ll be for their Week 1 contest against the Denver Broncos at Mile High on Sept. 9. But before then, Seattle will need to trim down its roster to 53 players, meaning 37 Seahawks (and over 1,000 players league-wide) will be looking for a new team by next week.
The deadline is 1 p.m. Saturday.
General manager John Schneider also hinted at upcoming additions during his pregame interview Thursday on 710 ESPN Seattle.
“It never stops for us, so we never feel like we’re satisfied in any regard,” Schneider said. “That has nothing to do with the individual players here. But we’re constantly striving for perfection and trying to improve in every aspect of our operation, and obviously acquisition is primarily what we’re concerned about right now.”