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Seahawks S Marquise Blair
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Seahawks players to watch: 3 rookies will get chance to shine vs Falcons

Seahawks safety Marquise Blair could see more playing time Sunday. (Getty)

Three Seahawks rookies have a chance to make an impact Sunday when the 5-2 Seahawks travel to Atlanta to take on a struggling Falcons team in Week 8.

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Here are this week’s players to watch:

Marquise Blair

If newly-acquired safety Quandre Diggs plays Sunday, he’ll certainly sit atop this list. But Diggs is listed as questionable with a hamstring injury and head coach Pete Carroll told reporters Friday that the team is in no hurry to rush the former Lion onto the field if he’s not ready.

Also questionable is starting safety Bradley McDougald, and if he can’t go Sunday, the team could turn once again to rookie Marquise Blair.

Blair saw his first career start filling in for McDougald last week and left a good first impression on defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr.

“He’s explosive,” Norton said of Blair, who finished with three tackles and a pass defensed. “He understands what’s going on. Obviously, you can always improve. That comes with experience.”

Despite the Falcons’ record, Blair and the rest of Seattle’s defense will face a tough test if Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan is healthy enough to play (the veteran is nursing a high ankle sprain). Ryan ranks second league-wide in total passing yards and is averaging 310 yards per game while also completing over 80 percent of his pass attempts.

L.J. Collier

Blair isn’t the only rookie who could see more playing time this week.

Defensive end Quinton Jefferson has already been ruled out with an oblique injury, which means first-round pick L.J. Collier could see his most extensive playing time yet.

Collier missed vital reps in the preseason after he suffered an ankle sprain in training camp, and perhaps because of that his integratration into Seattle’s starting defense has been slow.

“He’s really just learning,” Carroll said of Collier Friday. “He’s really a pup. We don’t have enough background with him yet to really feel like he’s at his best. I think he’s getting closer and he’ll get to play quite a bit this week. We look forward to seeing what he does.”

Collier took his first NFL snaps in Week 2 and had a season-high 20 snaps in a Week 4 win over the Arizona Cardinals. As a refresher on the playing style the team expects from Collier, Carroll and general manager John Schneider compared the 6-feet-2, 276-pound defensive end to fellow Texas native and former Seahawk Michael Bennett.

“He has the versatility and the style and the penetration ability,” Carroll said in May. “He’s really slippery.”

DK Metcalf

I’d like to put Russell Wilson here, but let’s be honest, you’re already watching Wilson on every snap. Here’s why he’d be a player to watch, though: The Falcons’ defensive line has mustered just five sacks this year and has allowed an average of 274 yards (28th in the league) from opposing passers.

But rookie wide receiver DK Metcalf could be another beneficiary of a weak pass defense. The Seahawks need to find a replacement for Will Dissly’s production. There are plenty of candidates, including fellow tight ends Luke Willson and Jacob Hollister and wide receiver David Moore. But Wilson has already developed a connection with Metcalf, who ranks second on the team in receiving yards already, and the absence of Dissly – combined with plenty of attention on leading receiver Tyler Lockett – could mean a breakout game for the young Seahawk.

Follow 710 ESPN Seattle’s Stacy Rost on Twitter.

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