Trevone Boykin, Kasen Williams among Seahawks’ standouts in preseason opener
The Seahawks opened up their preseason schedule with a 48-17 win over the Chargers in Carson, Calif. Here’s who and what stood out.
Thomas shows he’s back. Most of the Seahawks’ starting defense only played one series before giving way to backups, which is no surprise for the first preseason game. The fact that free safety Earl Thomas was part of that group tells you everything you need to know about where the Seahawks feel he’s at coming off a broken leg that ended his 2016 season early. Thomas showed the excellent range he’s known for when he closed in on a receiver and delivered a big hit as the ball arrived. It was only one play, of course, but Thomas looking like Thomas is a good sign for Seattle’s defense given how it struggled late last season while he was out.
Boykin’s command. Trevone Boykin took a big step toward hanging onto the backup quarterback job with a strong performance. He replaced Russell Wilson after the opening series and finished 12 of 15 for 189 yards, a touchdown and an interception. He also rushed for 31 yards and a touchdown on four carries. He was accurate, mobile and mostly made sound decisions with the exception of his interception, in which he underthrew a receiver deep down the field in the face of pressure. That seemed like an unnecessary interception, and he wasn’t perfect by any means, but Boykin showed a command of Seattle’s offense that he hasn’t seemed to have had in recent practices. Austin Davis was 7 of 9 for 108 yards.
Williams helps his case. Kasen Williams’ chances of making the Seahawks’ roster as the final receiver suddenly seem better. Williams led all receivers with four catches for 119 yards. All of those catches were on go-routes down the sideline and three of them were spectacular. On one, he outmuscled the defensive back to take away what would have been an interception. An all-state high-jumper in high school, Williams showed off his hops by going up and getting that ball (he did the same thing on another catch). Those are the types of plays that earn a quarterback’s trust, and in Williams’ case, they’ll also help his case for a roster spot. He seemed like he was on the outside looking in at the start of training camp, and it’ll be hard for Williams to make the team if Seattle only keeps five receivers, but he certainly helped himself in this game. Kenny Lawler is also in that mix. He had a touchdown catch and also made a nice crack-back block on a linebacker. Paul Richardson left the game with what Carroll called an AC sprain in his shoulder while rookie Amara Darboh didn’t play because of a chest injury. Williams and Lawler should get more opportunities in practice while Richardson and/or Darboh are out.
Improved LB depth. The Seahawks signed Michael Wilhoite and Terence Garvin in free agency to compete for the starting spot at strong-side linebacker. Then they brought back Mike Morgan, who was Seattle’s starter there last season when he was healthy. Regardless of who wins that job, the Seahawks are going to have better depth at linebacker than they had a year ago. That was on display on one play early in this game when Wilhoite leveled a receiver as the ball arrived, popping it right to Garvin, who caught it in stride and returned it for a touchdown. Wilhoite started at SAM in this game but was playing middle linebacker on that play. He’s been working there in practice and looks like an upgrade over Seattle’s backup middle linebacker last year, Brock Coyle.
Rookie watch. Shaquill Griffin (third round) started at right cornerback and stayed there long after the rest of Seattle’s starters called it a night. He stayed in a receiver’s hip pocket and broke up a deep throw down the sideline on the opening drive. But he was in coverage when that drive ended with a touchdown pass to Antonio Gates. Chris Carson (seventh) carried seven times for 19 yards and a pair of 1-yard touchdown runs. The rushing average wasn’t spectacular by any means, but Carson showed decisiveness on one run when he made one cut and turned up field for a nice gain. Defensive tackle Nazair Jones (third) had a hand in one of Seattle’s four takeaways when he tipped a pass at the line of scrimmage and teammate Tylor Harris came down with it. Jones also had a pressure and was credited with three tackles.
Perfect night for Walsh. Blair Walsh’s first game in a Seahawks uniform couldn’t have gone much better. He made both of his field-goal attempts (42 and 28 yards) and all six of his PATs. He also showed his strong leg with a few of his kickoffs reaching the back of the end zone. Walsh was inconsistent over the offseason and had a shaky start to training camp, but he’s been much better since then.