BRADY HENDERSON

What to watch for in Seahawks-Vikings preseason game

Aug 18, 2016, 5:16 PM
Justin Britt has received praise from Pete Carroll for his progress after shifting to center. (AP)...
Justin Britt has received praise from Pete Carroll for his progress after shifting to center. (AP)
(AP)

It isn’t just the players who are competing for the final few spots on the Seahawks’ roster that have something at stake in the preseason.

It’s also important for some of the starters, especially those along an offensive line that needs all the time together it can get given all the changes there from last season.

It was looking all offseason like the Seahawks would have new starters at all five spots, including at right tackle with free-agent addition J’Marcus Webb. But he missed a significant portion of offseason work with a calf strain then twisted his knee last week, prompting Seattle to move Garry Gilliam back to that spot and put on hold his switch to the left side.

Bradley Sowell, another free-agent pickup, is playing left tackle. In between those two bookends are a rookie at one guard spot (Germain Ifedi), a second-year player with a single start in his career (Mark Glowinski) at the other, and a center who is playing his third position in as many seasons.

Justin Britt’s latest position switch seems to be going more smoothly than his first two. Coach Pete Carroll praised Britt for the job he did in Seattle’s preseason opener against one of the NFL’s better nose tackles, Kansas City’s Dontari Poe. And he later said in an interview with “Brock and Salk” that Britt has made a significant adjustment in the way he’s playing.

“He’s made a technical jump in his control of his body and his pad level to the point where it looks like he should have been playing center all along. He just looks so natural at it,” Carroll said. “But I think it would have applied no matter where he’s playing. We’ve really got him to sit down and get his leverage in the right spot. For a big guy, he’s playing very low and very square. He did it in the running game. He did it in the passing game. It was an enormous accomplishment for him in such a short time.”

Britt, only in his third season, has by far the most starting experience of the five players who are currently starting along Seattle’s offensive line. That very well could be the one with which the Seahawks begin the regular season on Sept. 11, which makes tonight’s preseason game against Minnesota a fairly significant progress report for that group.

It wouldn’t be a surprise if the starting offensive line plays through the first half. With as much change as that group has gone through, it needs all the time together it can get.

Here are three more things to watch tonight:

Trevone Boykin’s second act. The rookie quarterback had a fairly solid NFL debut against Kansas City. He led four scoring drives and didn’t commit a turnover while completing 16 of 26 attempts for 188 yards and a touchdown. That touchdown came as time expired in the fourth quarter, culminating an 88-yard drive and setting up a game-winning two-point conversion. That was the good. The bad, as Carroll and offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell both noted, was that Boykin had some predictable issues with calling plays in the huddle. It’s something he’s unaccustomed to doing having come from a spread offense at TCU, where the plays were much less wordy and way easier to spit out. The Seahawks want to see – better yet, hear – him clean up some of the lines he flubbed last week in Kansas City. That will go a long way toward Boykin securing the job as Russell Wilson’s backup.

Safety plan. Brandon Browner is not a lock to make the Seahawks’ roster. His contract suggests as much as do a few other realities. Namely, he’s 32 years old and learning to play strong safety, where Seattle thinks he may be able to fill a situational role in some sub packages. Another player competing for a backup safety spot is undrafted rookie Tyvis Powell (No. 40), who was one of the standouts last week in Kansas City. Powell made a crushing block on a punt return, nearly made a miraculous play to keep a punt out of the end zone and then picked off a pass for good measure. It may not be an either/or scenario with Browner and Powell, but they are two players who could either help or hurt their cases for a roster spot tonight.

What can Brandon Williams do? He’s a fourth-year tight end who has played in 31 regular-season games, most of them coming with Carolina. Williams’ chances of making the Seahawks’ roster look even better in light of the uncertainty over Jimmy Graham’s availability for the start of the season. Also working in his favor is that he’s considered a good special-teams player. The Seahawks are evaluating their options at fullback and have looked to tight ends to help out, so anything Williams (No. 86) can do there would further help his case for a roster spot behind Graham, Luke Willson and rookie Nick Vannett.

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