Seattle Seahawks

From Bennett to Lacy, what to watch for in Seahawks game vs. Vikings

Michael Bennett, signing autographs earlier this month after training camp, said he will continue his protest during the anthem until he sees “equality and freedom every day.”
Michael Bennett, signing autographs earlier this month after training camp, said he will continue his protest during the anthem until he sees “equality and freedom every day.” AP

This second exhibition is not going to be like the first one for the Seahawks.

Even the pregame.

Friday’s preseason game against the Minnesota Vikings promises to be remembered for what happens before it even kicks off at 7 p.m. at CenturyLink Field. Michael Bennett has vowed to continue his protest of treatment of minorities by sitting for the national anthem, something he did in the team’s first game on Sunday.

“I cannot stand until I see equality and freedom every day,” Bennett told CNN Wednesday.

Chances are strong he won’t be satisfied he’s seen that by Friday.

Last weekend in California, Bennett sat alone on his team’s bench about 10 yards behind teammates, coaches, trainers and staffers who stood with locked arms along the sideline. That’s what the Seahawks have been doing since the 2016 regular-season opener last September, after quarterback Colin Kaepernick began kneeling during the anthem.

Coach Pete Carroll says he has talked to Bennett multiple times this week. Wide receiver Doug Baldwin said he was discussing with his coach what the team should do to unify, and to support Bennett in his cause. Carroll and Baldwin both have said they do.

When asked what the Seahawks plan to do, Carroll replied, “We’ll wait and see.”

On Wednesday, the Seahawks hosted members of the U.S. Army’s elite 1st Special Forces Group from Joint Base Lewis-McChord. Staff Sergeant Chris Harper of Sacramento, California, was one of the 1st Special Force Group soldiers on the Seattle’s practice field. He knew all about Bennett’s protest.

Harper, who has also served in the 82nd Airborne, has no problem with what Bennett is doing.

“Not offended. And I do know that it does offend some people,” Harper said. “I know that peaceful protest is one of the greatest things that we have, being American. The fact that someone can do that and go home to their family and not fear they are going to be awakened in the middle of the night or persecuted for doing that, that’s why we do what we do.”

Harper then waved his hand around the field in the direction of other members of his unit.

“And I bet to a man, if you asked all these people that question (about what Bennett did) they’d say the same thing,” he said.

“Somebody having a non-violent approach to protest? That’s what we fight for.”

Once the game kicks off, the starters are likely to go beyond their first-drive cameos of last weekend against the Chargers. Carroll typically plays them for at least two drives or into the second quarter in the second preseason game.

Thomas Rawls won’t be starting. He sprained his ankle in the Chargers exhibition and hasn’t practiced this week.

“It’s a real minor, later sprain,” Carroll said. “He’s going to be fine with it. He’ll be raring to go next week. But I think it’s the right thing to hold him back this week.”

That means more Eddie Lacy. Seattle’s biggest offseason acquisition had 10 yards, four carries – and no blocking – last weekend against Los Angeles. He got dropped for a 1-yard loss on third-and-goal from the 2, when right guard Mark Glowinski fell trying to block in front of him.

Lacy said last weekend “I was actually kind of cautious a bit, because I didn’t know how my ankle would feel.”

This is his second game running with a metal plate, wires and screws in his ankle, the result of surgery in October that ended his time with the Green Bay Packers.

“I definitely got over the mental part of that,” in the Chargers game, he said. “I just can’t wait to get more opportunities.”

He’ll get them against the Vikings.

“Yeah, you are going to see Eddie,” Carroll said. “You are going to get a good dose of Eddie Lacy.”

Lacy, 250 pounds, was an 1,100-yard rusher for Green Bay in 2013 and again in ’14. Seattle signed him in March to a prove-it, incentive-filled deal for one year. He has fallen behind Rawls in the competition to be the Seahawks’ lead back this season.

Lacy said the adjustment of his new linemen need to make to him and vice versa is ongoing.

“Oh, definitely. Definitely,” Lacy said. “I mean, I’m not like a scat back. I am more of a down-hiller.

“Just getting a feel for different guys and how they attack their blocks. Them getting a different feel for when I’m in the game, compared to when a faster player is in the game like Rawls or A.C. (Alex Collins) or (C.J.) Prosise is in. So it’s definitely a lot of moving parts that I’m trying to get comfortable.

“But it will all work out.”

Lacy – and then Prosise, Collins and Chris Carson, the rookie seventh-round pick and standout this month who had two rushing touchdowns against Los Angeles – will be running behind a line that is beginning to determine itself.

On defense, the Seahawks want a better performance than the 13-play, 75-yard drive with three conversions on third down they allowed Philip Rivers and the Chargers’ starting offense. That ended with a Rivers touchdown pass of 5 yards – on third down – to tight end Antonio Gates in front of too-soft coverage by rookie cornerback Shaquill Griffin.

Seattle will be without Pro Bowl linebacker K.J. Wright. He’s been out of town all week getting a “process” done on a sore knee that Carroll said was not a surgery. He is due back to the team on Monday, the coach said.

Terence Garvin was in Wright’s weakside-linebacker spot with the starting defense this week in practice.

Veteran defensive back Jeremy Lane will play for the first time since January; a groin strain kept him out for more than a week, until Tuesday. It’s worth watching whether Lane will start at right cornerback, or whether Griffin, the third-round pick, will, for the second consecutive game. Tramaine Brock, a starter the last two seasons at cornerback for San Francisco who signed a one-year, $900,000 contract on Wednesday, will debut at nickel and perhaps cornerback.

“It’s really fun for us to be coming home for the first time,” Carroll said. “For the players who have played at CenturyLink, and they are bringing in the young guys to see it for the first time and some of the new guys. It’s exciting. It’s fun, and we are looking forward to it, getting back to the 12s.”

gregg.bell@thenewstribune.com; @gbellseattle

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