One of the sporting games within a game of the preseason is the back-and-forth we writers get to have each week with the coach on who may or may not play in each of these four preseason games.
Today was the latest bi-play, with coach Pete Carroll pleasantly joking over whether many of his baker's dozen veterans that missed last week's exhibition opener at Denver will play tomorrow night when the Seahawks play San Diego in their first contest at CenturyLink Field since January's NFC championship game.
Here's the video of the start, including Carroll saying with a not-quite-straight face that all coaches in the NFC West have accepted his ALS "Ice Bucket Challenge" -- save for one. Guess who that is?:
Here's the synopsis of the rest:
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--Rookie defensive end Cassius Marsh participated in the short, walk-through practice after his MRI showed no damage for the tangling of legs that felled him and sent him to the locker room with an ominous-looking knee injury during Wednesday's practice. Carroll said Marsh, who was impressive last week in Denver with Seattle's only sack and four other tackles, may be able to play tomorrow night.
--Carroll was coy over whether Marshawn Lynch will play, saying with a grin, "He could."
--Left guard James Carpenter (calf) "looks like he's good" to play against the Chargers, the coach said. Doesn't look or sound like left tackle Russell Okung (toe surgery) will play until next week against Chicago. Okung returned to practice last week on the same day Carpenter did. It's Aug. 14. There's no rush.
--The starting offensive line I expect to see tomorrow night: Alvin Bailey again at left tackle, Carpenter at left guard, Max Unger (back from a groin injury) at center, J.R. Sweezy again at right guard and rookie Justin Britt still holding down the right-tackle job. That would mean two of the three starters that missed the exhibition last week in Denver (when Russell Wilson got chased by wild-looking Broncos early) would make their preseason debuts.
--I thought it was telling when Carroll was asked a big-picture question on what he wanted to see Wilson improve on this season: "I'd like to see us protect him better," Carroll said.
To me, that's the key to this season. Not sure Seattle gets away with the lack of pass protection it did for much of last year again.
--Carroll said safety Earl Thomas will be back returning punts again tomorrow night, with many others also getting chances there.
--Expect to see a lot of O'Brien Schofield inside on the pass rush on third downs. Carroll made a mention of how the defense -- first through third string -- need to be better than it was in Denver in getting off the field on third downs. Jeremy Lane should be the nickel back again early in the game. He's had an impressive couple of weeks in practice.
--Carroll hasn't put cornerback Tharold Simon in his "doghouse" after Simon was thrown out of the game in Denver for slapping a Bronco in the face mask in the end zone following a Denver touchdown. The coach says we are going to see "a lot" of the second-year man out of LSU, who missed all of last season with foot injuries and had a strong beginning to this summer's training camp.
--Carroll met yesterday with undrafted rookie Brock Coyle from Montana, who will start again tomorrow night. The coach wants Coyle to focus on finer points to his game such as better tackling form and more efficient drops into pass coverage. Carroll again praised the fill-in for injured Bobby Wagner for doing a "fantastic" job and quickly grasping the big-picture tasks of an NFL middle linebacker such as play calling, formation reads and leadership. "He's probably surpassed what you expect a rookie linebacker to do," Carroll said.
That's not good news for 10th-year veteran Heath Farwell, who has also played middle linebacker this preseason but seems far behind Coyle in making the team.
--As for Wagner, Carroll said he is "hopeful" to get both he and fellow linebacker Malcolm Smith to practice next week.
--Kevin Norwood is progressing well from surgery nine days ago to remove a bone spur in the rookie wide receiver's foot. Norwood had a boot on his foot at the beginning of this week at practice, but not now. Carroll said the fourth-round draft pick from Alabama is "really encouraged" by how he's feeling.
--Defensive tackle Jordan Hill, Seattle's third-round pick last year, is back practicing after a groin injury.