Gregg Bell on Michael Bennett's anthem sit, backup QBs shining and more from preseason opener
CARSON, Calif. The offensive line showed up -- and really did block somebody.
The newest defenders showed up -- and scored.
Quarterback Trevone Boykin and wide receiver Kasen Williams showed out -- and changed their roster chances for the way better.
Boykin completed 12 of 15 throws for 189 yards and touchdown, and ran for another score to erase a shoddy start to training camp behind starter Russell Wilson. Williams, a former University of Washington undrafted free agent, broke out with four circus catches for 119 yards. And the Seahawks’ reserves showed how much better they are right now than the Chargers’ over the final 3 1/2 quarters of Seattle’s 48-17 romp past Los Angeles’ newest pro sports team Sunday night in the preseason opener.
Pro Bowl defensive end Michael Bennett, son of a U.S. Army sergeant, made more news for what he did before the game than for his one series of play in it. He sat during the national anthem alone on the Seahawks’ bench, one day after former teammate Marshawn Lynch did the same before an Oakland Raiders preseason game.
Bennett said he will continue to sit during anthems before each Seahawks game this season, and the he appreciates that he has the support of his coaches, team leadership and teammates.
“The last week, with everything that’s been going on in the last couple months -- especially after the last couple days seeing everything in (Charlottesville) Virginia... just wanted to be able to continue to use my platform to be able to speak on injustice,” Bennett said following Sunday’s game.
“First of all, I want to make sure that people understand I love the military. My father was in the military. I love hot dogs, like any other American, I love football like any other American.
“But I don’t love segregation. I don’t love riots. I don’t love oppression. I don’t love gender slander. And I just want to see people have equality that they deserve.”
Rookie seventh-round pick Chris Carson continued his decisive straight-ahead running this month with two, bullying touchdown runs. He is running past 2016 draft choice Alex Collins for the fourth running-back spot.
The Seahawks scored their second-most points in a preseason game in team history. Their only more prolific summer exhibition: 55 points in 1979.
Wilson played one series, leading the first-team offense to Blair Walsh’s 42-yard field goal on the opening drive that went eight plays and 51 yards. He completed three of four throws for 41 yards. Two of those completions went for 30 yards to Paul Richardson, the oft-injured wide receiver starting with Tyler Lockett not playing. Lockett is returning from a broken leg in December.
The only negative for the Seahawks was the only thing no team wants in faux games. Richardson exited early with a right shoulder injury, after those two catches on the first drive. Reserve safety Jordan Simone left with a knee injury covering a kickoff.
Coach Pete Carroll said Richardson, whose first three NFL seasons have been plagued by injuries but emerged at the end of last season, sprained the AC joint in his shoulder leaving his feet to make his second catch on the opening drive, for 25 yards. Carroll said Seattle’s second-round pick in 2014 will be out an extended period, though the coach didn’t specify how many weeks.
“It was kind of self-inflicted,” Carroll said. “It’s sprained. It’s going to be a little bit.”
Carroll said Simone has a sprained anterior cruciate ligament in his knee that will need further testing.
Other than that, the Seahawks sure got a kick out of this exhibition in this soccer stadium, the Chargers’ temporary new home.
Darn near the entire roster of players in Seattle white ran up to Williams after each of his leaping, wowing catches.
Star safety Earl Thomas, who exited with the starters after one series, was screaming and jumping around the sidelines as if he’d just won Powerball midway through the first quarter. That was because new Seahawks linebackers Michael Wilhoite and Terence Garvin had just combined on an interception and return for a touchdown to put Seattle ahead 10-7.
Wilhoite, the former San Francisco starter Seattle signed as a free agent this spring, played middle linebacker after All-Pro Bobby Wagner departed early. Wilhote hit Chargers running back Branden Oliver as a dump-off pass arrived from Kellen Clemens at the Los Angeles 35-yard line. Garvin, signed the same month as Wilhoite, sharply changed directions from running toward the left flat to the right over the middle. He grabbed the deflection Wilhoite created out of the air. Garvin’s 37-yard return to the end zone started a party of Seahawks fans behind that end zone and put Seattle up 10-7.
But on the next scrimmage play, rookie safety Tedric Thompson, Seattle’s fourth-round pick this spring, failed to pick up Chargers wide receiver Travis Benjamin cutting across the field behind Garvin’s shallow zone coverage. Benjamin caught Clemens’ pass and sprinted in for a 74-yard touchdown that put Seattle back down, 14-10.
Boykin took over the second quarter from there.
The second-year undrafted free agent who backed up Wilson last season ran 23 yards for a first down after waiting for receivers that didn’t break open. He ran for another first down on third down. He completed seven of nine passes for 101 yards and a touchdown, to Kenny Lawler on fourth down from the 2 to put the Seahawks ahead 17-14. That one play was after new running back Eddie Lacy got stopped for a loss of 1 when right guard Mark Glowinski fell down trying to block.
New running back Eddie Lacy entered the game in the second series and gained 10 yards on four carries, with a long of five yards. Thomas Rawls, last year’s lead back before getting hurt for the second time in two NFL seasons, started and rushed two times for 5 yards on his only drive.
The offensive line rotated eight men around the five positions for most of the first half -- and provided strong pass protection that allowed Wilson and Boykin time to read three and even four receivers. Germain Ifedi started at right tackle, Oday Aboushi at right guard, Justin Britt at center, Luke Joeckel at left guard and George Fant at left tackle.
Glowinski entered for Aboushi. Joeckel went out to left tackle in his first Seahawks game, for Fant. When he did that, Rees Odhiambo played left guard. Rookie second-round pick Ethan Pocic then replaced Ifedi at right tackle. Pocic played center, his college position, in the fourth quarter.
Those linemen were part of the offense’s 201 yards in the first half. Seattle scored 34 points in the opening two quarters -- 14 directly off two turnovers the defense forced.
Williams missed a couple of practices after injury issues last year, and Seahawks coaches had to wonder about his place on the roster.
Sunday, he was wondrous. He put on his own, personal circus in front of Seattle’s bench.
Four times Boykin just chucked up and let the big wide out use his body to seize, and Williams did. He stretched his 6-foot-1, 219-pound body for a balletic catch in the second quarter.
But the best of Williams’ fantastic four was early in the third period. Los Angeles cornerback Michael Davis leaped and had Boykin’s slightly underthrown pass in his hands. But Williams just ripped the ball from Davis as both fell to the turf, and the Seahawks gained 34 yards to move them from the 13 to the 47.
Four plays later Williams did it again, leaping and twisting and catching Boykin’s sideline heave while deftly keeping both feet inbounds. That 29-yard gain to the 1 set up Carson’s second touchdown run on the next play. Seattle led 41-17, their most points in a preseason game in three years. And it wasn’t even 4 minutes into the second half.
Collins added a 1-yard touchdown run on a drive led by a 17-yard scramble by third-string quarterback Austin Davis in the fourth quarter. That made it 48-17.
Davis, off-target like Boykin through 12 training-camp practices, was seven for nine passing for 108 yards and a passer rating of 116.7.
The Seahawks have Monday off from the field before returning to practice Tuesday for Friday’s home exhibition against Minnesota. The starters are likely to play through the first quarter of that one.