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Clayton: What to watch for in Seahawks-Chargers preseason game

Russell Wilson and the Seahawks starters should see their most extensive outing Saturday. (AP)

The Seahawks head to Los Angeles to play the Chargers in what used to be known as the “dress rehearsal” preseason game. But this summer, it looks like teams are rehearsing for a concert that isn’t going to be seen.

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More coaches are opting to let their starters sit. The past trend was to take the third preseason game and keep the starters on the field a series or two into the second quarter.

Pete Carroll is a coach who likes to follow that plan, but all coaches have to be afraid. Look what happened last night: Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton, who sat for the first two games, was on the field for only 11 plays and suffered a mid-foot sprain. The Panthers are only cautiously optimistic Newton will be ready for the season opener.

Let’s look at some of the things the Seahawks need to find out Saturday night.

• Russell Wilson will get a chance for a second week to move the first-team offense; what will be interesting is to see for how long. Chargers coach Anthony Lynn may not play many starters. If that’s the case, Carroll has to determine how valuable it would be to watch Wilson go against the Chargers’ second-team defense. At a certain point, Wilson going against the backups might not be something that would be worthwhile for a long period of time. After all, offense is the strength of the team at the moment.

• This is an important game for quarterback Geno Smith. Smith struggled in the first preseason game and missed the second preseason game after undergoing surgery to remove a cyst on his knee. Paxton Lynch struggled last week and isn’t going to play Saturday because of a concussion. Smith could be on the field for a long stretch after Wilson sits and if he does well he’ll more than likely lock up the backup job, although I’m sure Pete Carroll will still want to split time next week between Smith and Lynch.

• There will be plenty of things to watch in the backfield. It’s possible the Seahawks won’t play Chris Carson much; most teams don’t play the starting running back a lot in the preseason. Rashaad Penny didn’t have a good game last week, so he will want to fix that on the field Saturday night. Travis Homer, J.D. McKissic and C.J. Prosise, Bo Scarbrough have fought injuries this summer. Scarbrough has been ruled out for Saturday, but the others should be healthy for the game and they need to show enough to see if the Seahawks can keep two of them.

• The battle for the No. 6 receiver spot should be good. Four are competing for one spot: John Ursua, Keenan Reynolds, Jazz Ferguson and Malik Turner. Gary Jennings, who is likely the No. 5 receiver, also needs a good showing to lock in his spot on the roster. The battle has become all the more important following a shoulder injury to David Moore (which will cost him at least a Week 1 start).

• Jamar Taylor has a chance to lock up the slot cornerback job. In the past two weeks. Taylor has emerged as the No. 1 slot defender. Ugo Amadi also has a chance. He’s made a great play in each of the first two games. Amadi looks like the slot corner of the future and he looks as though he can be a good one.

• Lano Hill should get some action to see where he stands in his bid as a starting safety. Tedric Thompson looks as though he should end up starting with Bradley McDougald, but nothing is final yet.

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