Clayton: What to look for in Seahawks preseason opener vs Broncos
Finally, the first preseason game has arrived for the Seahawks.
Like most teams, the Seahawks aren’t expected to have starters on the field long when they open their preseason Thursday against the Denver Broncos. Often, the first game only includes the starting quarterback and a few starters out there for one series, but the Seahawks won’t even have the top QB in action.
The Broncos opened up against the Atlanta Falcons in the Hall of Fame game last week and came away with a 14-10 win. New Denver quarterback Joe Flacco, who didn’t hit the field in the Hall of Fame game, and some of the Broncos’ starters are going to be out there just for cameo appearances.
Here are some things to look at in the Seahawks’ preseason opener.
• You will see plenty of Paxton Lynch, who is battling for the backup quarterback job against Geno Smith. Smith is going to start even though he has a minor knee injury. Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said Wednesday that Russell Wilson will not play, and with only three quarterbacks on the roster, Lynch might have to play as much as three quarters.
There are two ironies for Lynch. First, the former Broncos first-round pick will play his first game after being let go by Denver against his old team. Second, Lynch didn’t know this but the Seahawks ended up getting two starters out of the Broncos’ trade up in the 2016 draft to take Lynch. The Seahawks received a lower first-round pick, which they used to take right tackle Germain Ifedi, and a third-round pick, which they used to draft tight end Nick Vannett, in the trade.
• What had been a deep tight end position looks a little thinner, so we may need to wait on judging the battle at the spot.
Will Dissly has made an amazing comeback from patellar tendon surgery. He had two touchdown receptions in practice the other day and is competing for the starting job. But he’s not going to play.
Ed Dickson had knee surgery and will miss four to five weeks, putting him in a position where he might be the odd man out. If he doesn’t make it, it could open the door for Jacob Hollister to make the team. But Hollister isn’t expected to play Thursday either because of a groin injury.
That likely means Vannett will have to play a lot. Over the past week, the Seahawks have had four injuries at tight end. Two tight ends were waived with an injury designation last week. And while George Fant is there as an offensive lineman who blocks at tight end in jumbo formation, Seattle won’t play him at TE more than a handful of times in a game.
• One of the keys to the season will be the pass rush. All eyes need to be on Barkevious Mingo, who has moved from linebacker to defensive end, where he played in college. The team likes his speed and pass-rushing ability.
The Seahawks hope Rasheem Green and Jacob Martin make a jump as second-year players. This could be a good game for Shaquem Griffin to show what he can do, as well.
• Tyler Lockett and Jaron Brown might not play, so David Moore could show what he can do as he competes for a starting job at wide receiver. Malik Turner and Jazz Ferguson have shown a lot at the beginning of camp; now we will see what they can do in a game. The John Ursua-Keenan Reynolds battle should be a good one in the slot. Gary Jennings will get his first real chance to show his skills.
• The battle for the Seahawks’ slot cornerback job previously held by Justin Coleman should be interesting. Kalan Reed made a slight jump this week and moved to the first team. Akeem King and Ugo Amadi should get some work at the spot. Veteran Jamar Taylor is coming off a good week and might get some action.
• Two rookies to watch are safety Marquise Blair and linebacker Cody Barton.