Ready or not, Hawks to play first exhibition
ERIC D. WILLIAMS; Staff writer
Are you ready for some football?
Well, ready or not, the Seattle Seahawks return to the field today in San Diego, taking on the Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium in the first game of the exhibition of the preseason for both teams.
After 41/2 months away from the players during the lockout, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll had just two weeks to whip his guys into shape for today’s game.
So the contest will be treated more as a matter of survival by Carroll rather than a chance to meet any lofty expectations. Key players are likely to see limited action, or not even take the field.
“We’re thinking this is very important to us in terms of the process here because our guys haven’t played very much football yet,” Carroll said. “And they won’t get a lot in this game, but that game speed is something that we need. These games are really crucial.”
Added new Seahawks defensive tackle Alan Branch: “It’s going to be hard, but it’s not like we’re the only team that’s doing it. So that’s the way we’re going into it. Everybody’s going into the same situation as us. So we’re not a step behind anybody. Everybody’s in the same place we are.”
Carroll said Tuesday that starting quarterback Tarvaris Jackson will open the game and play a handful of snaps.
“He is going to start in this game and play a little bit and get going, just so that we can start the process,” Carroll said about starting Jackson. “I don’t want to wait a whole another cycle to get the process started.”
Backup Charlie White-hurst will play against his former team for the first time since San Diego traded him to Seattle a season ago.
But expect third-team quarterback Josh Portis to get the majority of playing time tonight, likely playing about a half in the 24-year-old’s first action as a pro.
One thing Carroll’s concerned about is the limited time the team has to make evaluations on fringe players and undrafted rookie free agents trying to make the 53-man roster. Under normal circumstances, those players would already have been at the facility for a couple of months, working in the team’s offseason program.
But because of the lockout, rookies and players fighting to make the roster get a short window to show they belong.
“The hard thing for the young guys in this camp is that they didn’t have the OTAs (organized team activities),” Carroll said. “They don’t have the same competitive opportunity that they’ve had in other years. This is an absolute race for these guys – 40-something hours of meetings that they would have had up until now – and all of the extra work they would have done. You can’t equate that.”
That said, players such as third-round draft choice John Moffitt, a guard, finally gets to take on someone other than teammates.
“I’m excited for it, I really am,” Moffitt said. I’m nervous, but I’m looking forward to it. It’s a game. It’s like a lot of other games I’ve played as far as the process that I’m doing, but it’s on another level.”
Eric D. Williams: 253-597-8437 firstname.lastname@example.org blog.thenewstribune.com/seahawks
Seahawks at Chargers, 5 p.m., ESPN, Ch. 10, 710-AM, 97.3-FM SEAHAWKS GAMEDAY
SEATTLE (0-0) AT SAN DIEGO (0-0)
Kickoff: 5 p.m., Qualcomm Stadium.
TV: ESPN and Ch. 10.
Radio: 710-AM, 97.3-FM.
The series: Seattle and San Diego meet for the 11th time in exhibition play, with the Seahawks holding a 6-4 edge. Five of the past six years Seattle has traveled to San Diego for exhibition play. The last time was in 2009, when the Seahawks posted a 20-14 victory over the Chargers in Jim Mora’s debut as the team’s coach.
Position battles to watch: The Seahawks signed 10-year veteran Jeff Reed to come in and compete for the starting kicker position with Seattle’s seventh-round draft choice in 2008, Brandon Coutu. The Georgia product did not have a strong enough leg to beat out Olindo Mare in back-to-back training camp battles, but with kickoffs being moved up 5 yards to the 35-yard-line, less emphasis will be on leg strength, which should help Coutu. … Seattle’s fifth-round draft choice Richard Sherman, second-year pro Walter Thurmond, CFL product Brandon Browner and incumbent Kelly Jennings should have a pretty good battle for the starting cornerback job opposite veteran Marcus Trufant. … Leon Washington looks fast and fully healthy, and should compete for playing time in a backfield that includes Marshawn Lynch and Justin Forsett.
Injury report: Receiver Mike Williams suffered a sprained toe Monday and will not play, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. Rookie receiver Kris Durham (hamstring) and defensive lineman Kentwan Balmer (neck stinger) did not practice Tuesday and will not play today. Defensive lineman Ryan Sims has a swollen knee and is day-to-day, so he could be available. Thurmond still has not returned from a sprained ankle and will not play, and defensive lineman Red Bryant (knee) will not play, but is expected to return to practice Saturday.
Eric D. Williams, staff writer