3 Players to watch in Seahawks third preseason game vs. Vikings

Aug 23, 2018, 10:46 AM | Updated: 2:01 pm
Germain Ifedi...
The Seahawks used a first-round pick on right tackle Germain Ifedi in 2016. (AP)

The Seahawks are hitting the road again for their third preseason game. This time they’re heading to U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, where they’ll face the defending NFC North champion Minnesota Vikings.

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The third preseason contest typically features the most playing time for starters, so Seahawks fans should expect the first-team offense and defense to play into the second half. That also means that, unlike its previous versions, this preview will focus a bit more on those starters.

With that, here’s a look at three players to watch in Seahawks vs. Vikings:

QB Russell Wilson

This really goes without saying, as the starting quarterback will be the player most fans will be watching every week regardless of how many snaps he plays in the preseason. And in Seattle’s case, their quarterback has been one of the league’s most consistent performers and is coming off of an MVP-caliber season.

Still, Wilson is in his first year with new offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer and has a few new weapons on offense. Friday’s extended playing time will offer a chance to see how he’s implementing adjustments from Schottenheimer, and allow us to watch his chemistry develop with new receivers Jaron Brown and Brandon Marshall.

Wilson and the starting offense will also be facing their toughest defense yet this preseason. The Vikings’ top-ranked unit finished the 2017 season first in points allowed per game (an average of just 16.1 for opposing offenses) and yards per play (4.7).

Through limited appearances in two games, Wilson has looked solid and efficient. In his single series against the Colts, he was 4-of-5 for 43 yards and one touchdown. Through two quarters against the Chargers, he was 13-of-21 for 193 yards.

However, both Schottenheimer and head coach Pete Carroll noted that the first-team offense struggled to finish drives in their loss to the Chargers (they walked out of three red zone appearances with a pair of field goals). Fairly or not, the Seahawks’ performance in the red zone this week will be attributed to Wilson’s play. And Carroll cited improvement there as a point of emphasis for Friday’s game.

“I want to see us clean things up and finish things better,” Carroll said. “I want to finish our drives. I want to finish the first half and all of that… I like to see us play really good football and show that we can finish the red zone drives, finish the third down opportunities, finish the plays and show all of that stuff that you need to play championship football.”

RT Germain Ifedi

Right tackle Germain Ifedi faced a wave of criticism following Saturday’s loss, in particular for his performance against Chargers defensive end Melvin Ingram. In one instance, Ingram worked his way around Ifedi on third-and-goal to put pressure on Wilson, who threw incomplete to tight end Nick Vannett.

Seattle swapped former left tackle George Fant to the right side Tuesday to add competition at the position. Ifedi will presumably get the start, but he’ll be sitting on a hot seat.

“He did some good stuff, and he got in trouble a couple times,” Carroll said of Ifedi’s performance last week. “But he’s cleaned up some things in his game that I’m happy about. I’m hoping that will continue; I think it will. He went against a really good guy. Ingram got after him a little bit. He got after all of us a little bit, he played a really good football game. But he’s making progress and he’s competing like crazy and he’s learning the new stuff and picking it up. But he’s getting challenged, too. He knows we think a lot of George Fant… and we thought the same about Isaiah (Battle), too, Isaiah has done well. So (Ifedi) is obviously in a competition over there and it’s going to bring out the best in everybody.”

P Michael Dickson

The release of veteran Jon Ryan earlier this week marked an end to the team’s punter battle, with rookie Michael Dickson taking the reins moving forward. In that sense, Dickson isn’t a bubble player we’re keeping an eye on in these preseason games. But he is an interesting storyline (he kicked an American football for the first time at age 18) and worth tracking as Seahawks fans get an early look at his talent. Friday will be the first time Dickson handles all punts, rather than split reps with Ryan.

“He has tremendous versatility and he has an upbringing as a kicker that we’ve never seen, none of us have ever seen before,” Carroll said of Dickson. “So, it’s really fun. (Special teams coach) Brian Schneider and he, they’re working on a lot of stuff and we’ll see how it turns out.”

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3 Players to watch in Seahawks third preseason game vs. Vikings