What we learned as the Seahawks conclude their preseason
Three things we learned:
1. The Seahawks’ starting offense is all set.
Quarterback Russell Wilson was on the field for 13 possessions in the team’s four preseason games. The Seahawks scored touchdowns on nine of those drives. The only time that unit punted was on the first series of the preseason opener in Denver. Seattle scored an average of 26.1 points, tied for eighth most in the league, but the Seahawks’ offense looks even more potent this year. That improvement, however, won’t be measured in passing yards, but rather in points.
2. There are limits to Seattle’s secondary depth.
For two years, Seattle has had an answer for every injury, an alternative for every suspension. Whether it was Richard Sherman stepping in for Walter Thurmond – who had stepped in for Marcus Trufant – back in 2011 or Byron Maxwell playing his way to the top of the depth chart a year ago, the Seahawks have had a seemingly inexorable supply of cornerbacks. But on Thursday in Oakland, with Jeremy Lane out due to a strained groin and Tharold Simon resting a boggy knee, the Seahawks’ second-unit cornerbacks were Phillip Adams and DeShawn Shead. The former was immediately beaten for a touchdown and the latter has been a safety primarily in training camp. Seattle is four deep at cornerback, but is there a fifth worth keeping on this roster?
3. Terrelle Pryor is too inconsistent to make this team.
He is a wonderfully talented athlete who has made remarkable progress in the five months since he was acquired by the Seahawks. However, his accuracy can waver, and the pair of interceptions he threw in August showed questionable decision-making. Tarvaris Jackson is the entrenched backup. That’s clear. And honestly, No. 4 quarterback B.J. Daniels was more decisive and effective than Pryor was against Oakland. Expect Daniels to be the guy the Seahawks look to groom for a long-term backup, perhaps on the practice squad.
Three things we’re still trying to figure out:
1. Will Kevin Norwood make the cut?
The fourth-round pick looked polished and ready to produce over the course of the offseason. The problem: his foot. A problem in the past, it came to a head early in training camp to the point he underwent surgery to remove a bone spur. He hasn’t practiced in four weeks, and now the Seahawks have a heck of a choice – place him on injured reserve and lose him for the season or keep him on the active roster and count on his recovery to the point of releasing another viable receiver who very well may be snatched up. Percy Harvin, Doug Baldwin, Jermaine Kearse and Paul Richardson are locks to make the 53-man roster. Ricardo Lockette is going to be on the team, too, and Norwood very well may be the sixth receiver.
2. What will happen with Bruce Irvin?
He hasn’t practice a lick since undergoing hip surgery in early June, but unlike Norwood, the Seahawks have options here. They can place Irvin on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list before the regular season starts. He wouldn’t count against the 53-man roster limit, and he could be activated later in the season. The caveat: Irvin would miss more than a month, ineligible to be activated until after Seattle’s sixth regular-season game. Coach Pete Carroll has said Irvin is expected to begin practicing next week, indicating he’ll be on the 53-man roster. We’ll see when Seattle trims its roster to 53 on Saturday. If Irvin is not on it, we won’t see him for at least the first six games.
3. Is Malcolm Smith going to be starting Week 1?
Because he didn’t start Thursday night as the Seahawks went with Bobby Wagner in the middle, K.J. Wright on the weakside and Mike Morgan on the strong side. Smith came in behind Wright at weak side and not on the strong side, where Irvin projects as the starter. One thing to expect, though, is for Wright to be involved in the team’s nickel defense with his speed and coverage. The Super Bowl MVP – and the guy who picked off the pass to clinch the NFC Championship – may not be a starter when this season begins. Again.