Seattle head coach Pete Carroll gave us some insight into his expectations for the Seahawks in the team’s exhibition opener at San Diego tonight.
Frontline players like Russell Wilson, Marshawn Lynch, Sidney Rice, Max Unger and Bobby Wagner likely will be observers in this one, as Carroll gets a good look at younger players battling to make the 53-man roster.
However, tonight’s contest also provides Carroll with his first real opportunity to continue to refine the style in which he wants his team to play each and every game – physical, smash-mouth football.
“We are going to go out and try to play football our style, play fast on offense and fly around on defense and special teams and start the process of figuring out what it looks like and start to figure us out,” Carroll said on Wednesday. “Because you did something last year doesn’t mean anything about this year. t just doesn’t. It’s what you do about it, how you respond and how you answer the call to the challenges and all that.”
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That said, let’s take a closer look at five storylines to watch for this evening.
Who’s toting the rock? With Lynch expected to play sparingly, if at all, the Seahawks will get a closer look at second-round draft choice Christine Michael, along with sixth-round draft choice Spencer Ware and second-year pro Derrick Coleman. I’m really interested to see how Michael plays, particularly in the passing game when he has to pass protect. I also want to see how much patience he shows running the outside and inside zone. Ware and Coleman also have flashed at practice. Specifically, Coleman shows a good feel of reading where the creases are going to open up in the zone running game. With Robert Turbin still nursing a foot injury, these young backs need to take advantage of the extra reps.
Who’s rushing the passer? With Chris Clemons, Cliff Avril and Bruce Irvin all out for this one, it will be interesting to see what players are out there rushing the passer on third down. Specifically, I want to see how Michael Bennett is used, and how young edge rushers like Mike Morgan, Benson Mayowa, O’Brien Schofield and Ty Powell compete against San Diego’s starting offensive tackles. I also will be watching interior pass rushers like Jordan Hill, Clinton McDonald, Jaye Howard and Tony McDaniel.
The ongoing competition at right guard: J.R. Sweezy and John Moffitt continue to split reps at right guard with the first unit during training camp. It appears both players likely will make the final roster, but I’m still interested to see if either player can create some separation in that competition tonight.
Can Willson make an impact: With Zach Miller (foot) still on the PUP list, the Seahawks will count on rookie Luke Willson to play an important role as an impact player in the pass game. So we’ll see if the athletic tight end out of Rice can meet those expectations. Specifically, I want to see if Willson can make plays in the red zone.
Competition at QB: Tarvaris Jackson is trusted by his teammates and knows the offense, so the competition for the No 2 job is a formality, right? Well, not really. Jackson still has to show he can get it done on the field. The Seahawks picked Brady Quinn in a tryout that included Matt Leinart, Seneca Wallace and Tyler Thigpen for a reason – they like his skill set and what he can add to the quarterback room, working closely with Russell Wilson on game planning each week. So Jackson still has to prove he’s the guy for the job, not only in games but how he carries himself in practice and in the meeting room.
Other things to watch: The battle for the starting defensive tackle job between Jesse Williams and Tony McDaniel. Carroll continued to rave about Williams this week. ... Allen Bradford will get a chance to start at middle linebacker. He needs to show that he can be consistent there, and also make plays on special teams. ... After an impressive training camp, cornerbacks Walter Thurmond, Jeremy Lane and Byron Maxwell need to show they can do the same thing in a game. … Stephen Williams, Phil Bates, Chris Harper, Bryan Walters and Brett Swain are all battling for those last, few spots at receiver. We’ll see which player steps up there.