Seahawks Takeaways: Is C.J. Prosise’s breakout vs Chargers enough for a roster spot?
The Seahawks had their most complete outing of the preseason in a 23-15 win over the Los Angeles Chargers Saturday night.
Seattle was able to make it out of the road trip mostly injury-free (though backup center Joey Hunt was forced to the sideline with an undisclosed injury) but a strong performance from several bubble players also means Seattle is faced with tough decisions ahead of the 53-man roster deadline on Aug. 31.
Here are some takeaways from Saturday’s exhibition game:
C.J. Prosise bounces back
Durability has been a concern throughout running back C.J. Prosise’s career. When healthy, he’s shown flashes of the versatile talent Seattle saw when they drafted him in the third round in 2016. But those healthy outings have been few and far between; Prosise has landed on the injured reserve in each of his three seasons and has suffered injuries to his shoulder blade, hamstring, ankle, abdomen and hip. All told, he’s appeared in just 16 of a possible 48 regular season games.
But on Saturday, Prosise was the top beneficiary of Seattle’s attempt to establish the run in their third preseason contest – a goal that was mentioned by general manager John Schneider in his pregame interview on 710 ESPN Seattle.
Prosise’s 32 yards on five carries led all rushers, and he also had a 1-yard touchdown run and a reception for 15 yards (coming from quarterback Geno Smith on a two-minute drive that ended with a field goal just before halftime).
Prosise said his touchdown, which gave Seattle a 13-3 lead in the second quarter, was particularly meaningful.
“It means a lot to me,” Prosise said during the Seahawks postgame show on 710 ESPN Seattle. “Not seeing the end zone for three years, for me I was just wanting to get in there, and I was going to fight my way into the end zone any way I can. I really felt comfortable out there tonight and I was just excited.”
While he’s just 25 years old and still on his rookie contract, Prosise finds himself dangling on the roster bubble following the addition of first-round running back Rashaad Penny last year and special teams work from J.D. McKissic and Travis Homer. If he can remain healthy, though, his potential and salary (Seattle’s eight running current running backs make up just 3.4% of the salary cap) could be enough to keep Seattle interested.
“I don’t give up on guys very quickly,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said of Prosise’s night. “Knowing what his situation has been and the circumstances – he has stayed with it every step of the way – and if there comes a point where a guy can’t stay healthy then he won’t be able to play, but (Prosise) is bouncing back, and I’m going to keep my fingers crossed that he’s able to do that. He’s such a versatile player and he adds so much. We’ll just see what happens.”
Mychal Kendricks more comfortable
Saturday was the Seahawks’ first game with what should be their starting linebacker trio: Middle linebacker Bobby Wagner and outside linebackers K.J. Wright and Mychal Kendricks. Seattle didn’t have the chance to feature the three of them at the same time last year; Kendricks was signed in Week 2 to fill in at weakside linebacker in place of an injured Wright. And by the time Wright was able to return late in the season, Kendricks had landed on the injured reserve with a broken leg.
The trio are expected to be not just Seattle’s strongest unit on defense, but one of the top linebacker tandems in the league – if not the top. And while the Seahawks weren’t facing Chargers starting quarterback Philip Rivers, the combination of Wagner, Wright and Kendricks helped make the third week of the preseason Seattle’s best outing yet.
Kendricks in particular had a strong night with three tackles, including one that stopped a Chargers’ fourth-and-1 attempt to force a turnover on downs. That stop came just one play after Kendricks tackled Chargers running back Troymaine Pope to keep Los Angeles short on third down.
“We’ve seen that look before, we knew it was coming,” Kendricks said of the stop during the Seahawks postgame show. “It was fourth-and-short, so the situation lined up perfectly and I just took my shot.”
Kendricks told broadcaster Jen Mueller that this training camp, his first with Seattle, felt different because he feels more comfortable with the plays and recognizes more camaraderie with his teammates – something that became evident pretty quickly afterward when Wagner jokingly interrupted his interview.
“Terrific plays,” Carroll said of Kendricks’ back-to-back stops. “Those are really instinctive plays, taking a shot to making a play on fourth down there was just beautifully done. That’s the kind of athlete that we see. He’s really explosive. He’s got this knack about getting low, and the flexibility that he has and the power that he has, it shows up and he can make things happen in the open field and when he’s pressuring, too, so he’s an exciting player.”
• Carroll has been pleased with Seattle’s efforts to protect the ball this preseason, citing just the single turnover the team has had across three games.
• Rookie safety Marquise Blair was held out Saturday. He was carted off the field last week with what was originally described as back spasms, but Carroll said Saturday that Blair’s injury is more similar to a hip pointer. “His bruised back, another way to explain is like a hip pointer, it’s from the backside of his hip,” Carroll said. “So he just has to get through it. It’s going to take a little bit of time. He should be back this week but if he’s that uncomfortable and he can’t go, he can’t go. He’s a very tough kid and he wants to play and all that, so he’ll have a chance to get back.”
• Cornerback Kalan Reed will see a specialist early this week for a neck injury. Carroll said the team will know more about Reed’s status at that time.