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Seahawks, Bears meet for MNF: 3 Players to watch

RB Chris Carson is leading the charge to reinvigorate the Seahawks' run game. (AP)

The Seahawks (0-1) are traveling to Chicago to face the Bears (0-1) on the road for the first time since Russell Wilson’s 2012 rookie season. That game – headlined by then-burgeoning stars like Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor, Golden Tate and Marshawn Lynch – ended with a dramatic 23-17 overtime win for Seattle.

Stelton: Crucial spots on the field for Week 2 vs Bears

This time around, a very different Seahawks squad will be seeking their first win of the season.

The offense, still headed by Wilson, will be short top receiver Doug Baldwin (knee) and have long since parted ways with Lynch – though he remains the last Seattle running back to get 1,000 or more yards in a season.

But the hope is those positions are a boon for Seattle’s offense Monday, as both a wide receiver and running back top this list of Players to Watch in Week 2. Here’s who we’re keeping an eye on:

WR Brandon Marshall

Marshall will be reuniting with his second team in as many weeks when Seattle heads to Chicago. Week 1 brought Marshall’s first visit to Denver since leaving the Broncos in 2010. This week will find Marshall facing the Bears, for whom he played from 2012-14.

With Baldwin out, you could make a case for any receiver here (or even tight end Will Dissly for that matter, who led all receivers in Week 1 with three catches for 105 yards and a touchdown). Pete Carroll said himself Tuesday that fans can expect to see more from Jaron Brown (1 reception for seven yards last week) and David Moore (who saw just one target). Fourth-year pro Tyler Lockett is also a top candidate; already under the spotlight after signing a multi-year contract extension, Lockett had three catches for 59 yards and a touchdown against the Broncos.

But Marshall’s return to Chicago, number of targets last week (he led all others with six) and red zone presence make him an interesting figure for Week 2.

RB Chris Carson

Carson had seven carries for 51 yards last week, which isn’t a bad stat line, but is a far cry from the rushing attack Carroll promoted all offseason. That’s not necessarily on Carson; Carroll said the team’s performance on third down (they were 2-for-12) limited the game plan, and several players were feeling the heat and altitude in Denver.

“He felt it. He felt it, I know,” Carroll told Brock Huard and Mike Salk Monday, when asked whether Carson was winded or struggling with the altitude. “There’s a factor. He ran tough as can be and did a nice job.”

Carroll was asked about the run game a few times this week and stressed that it’s still a huge factor for this team. The hope is that it can take off more successfully against the Bears — but they’ll have their work cut out for them. Chicago ranked 11th overall against the rush last season and last month’s addition of Pro Bowl linebacker Khalil Mack earlier this month makes that an even greater challenge.

Still, Carson has a prime opportunity to take over as Seattle’s lead back and he could see even more carries while rookie Rashaad Penny builds up his reps.

The running back position in general is worth watching all season. Once dominated by Marshawn Lynch, the team hasn’t had a 1,000-yard rusher since Lynch did it in 2014 and hasn’t had a running back surpass 100 yards in a regular season game since Thomas Rawls did it against the Panthers in Dec. 2016.

Shaquem Griffin, Austin Calitro, and Mychal Kendricks

The regular starting duo of Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright is among the league’s best. But Wright is currently sidelined with a knee injury, and while he is running in practice again he’s not likely to be back for Week 2. Meanwhile, Wagner landed on the injury report Thursday with a groin issue and has since missed two days of practice.

It’s still a bit too early to tell how serious Wagner’s injury is — Carroll will have his final injury report Saturday afternoon — but the recent signing of ex-Browns linebacker Mychal Kendricks makes it clear the team is at least concerned about depth.

Kendricks, released by the Cleveland Browns after he was charged with insider trading, has played at weakside linebacker and could presumably start immediately in relief of Wright. Calitro filled in on the weakside last week, but backed up Wagner at middle linebacker in the preseason and could start there if Wagner is unable to play.

Moore: With changes to game plan, Seahawks can beat Bears