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Clayton: What to look for in Seahawks-Vikings preseason game

Can Seahawks QB Paxton Lynch replicate last week's success? (Getty)

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll predicted intense practices as the team prepared for the second pre-season game.

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He was right. Practices were crisp and feisty. But the biggest thing that happened this week was the emergence of the defense.

With so many non-padded practices in OTAs, mini-camp and training camp, the offense has ruled. But on Thursday and Friday, the defense won the practices. The cornerbacks won many of the battles against the receivers with tight man-to-man coverages. The linebackers flowed to the ball.

Let’s see what to look for in Sunday night’s game against the Vikings:

• A good performance by Paxton Lynch could give him the edge in the battle for the backup quarterback job. Lynch did well last week against Denver. After an off-practice Sunday, Lynch has been great this week. Lynch is so much on a roll Geno Smith returned to the practice field this Friday after having a cyst surgically removed from his left knee last Friday. He apparently senses Lynch is gaining on him.

• Jamar Taylor is making a good run at the slot cornerback position. As the week of practice finished, Taylor ended up as the team’s No. 1 slot cornerback. Taylor is competing against Akeem King, Kalen Reed, Ugo Amadi and others for the role.

If Taylor has a good game and another good week of practice, he could win the job. Coming out of college, some coaches thought he had the talent to be Pro Bowl-caliber slot corner. What some coaches feared is that if he was moved to outside corner, it could take away from his game. That happened, and Taylor ended up getting cut several times. Carroll is only going to use Taylor in the slot if he makes the team.

• This will be the first time the first-team defense will be on the field. They will be playing a talented Vikings offense and quarterback Kirk Cousins. It will be a good test for the secondary and the pass-rush.

It’s important for the defensive line to show it can rush the passer. Reports are starting to surface that the Houston Texans contacted the Seahawks about possibly trading for Jadeveon Clowney. Clearly, he would only be a one-year rental — he’s wanting more than $20 million a year and the Seahawks wouldn’t do that with Frank Clark.

The Seahawks shouldn’t give up one of two second-round choices to get him, but the Texans might be willing to do a deal for players. They might be interested in a wide receiver and an offensive lineman. The reason the Seahawks shouldn’t give up a second-rounder is that might need that to trade up into the first round in 2020 to get a pass rusher that could last them at least the next four years.

Ziggy Ansah had a slight setback in his rehab thanks to a recent  a groin injury. Though Carroll thinks Ansah should be ready for the opener, Clowney, could add one more pass-rushing asset. If Clowney leaves in free agency after the season, the Seahawks would get a third-round compensatory pick. If Ansah does well, they could get another third-round compensatory.

• This will be the first test for the Seahawks’ starting offense. Russell Wilson has a great offseason. He’ll be trying to get deep passes to his receivers. We’ll also see if he throws some more passes to running backs Chris Carson and Rashaad Penny, something offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer has highlighted.

• This will be an interesting game for safety Marquise Blair. On Friday, Blair, a strong safety in college, was the backup free safety working with Lano Hill. Tedric Thompson started at free and Bradley McDougald at strong.

• Will Dissly will make his 2019 debut at tight end. He’s battling Nick Vannett for the starting tight end job, which will be one of the better starting battles.

­• Watch Al Woods at defensive tackle. Carroll raved about his play in practice.

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