Good morning. We’ll have our live game chat up and running later this evening for tonight’s Seahawks vs. Raiders contest.
Also, I will post my projected, 53-man roster on the blog soon after the game is over, so check back for that as well later this evening.
But for now, let’s take a look at five keys for the Seahawks as they try and win the team’s ninth straight preseason game.
Testing that D-line depth: Five projected players for Seattle’s defensive line rotation in 2013 will not play this evening because of injuries, including Brandon Mebane (groin), Tony McDaniel (groin), Michael Bennett (toe), Cliff Avril (hamstring) and Chris Clemons (knee). So younger players like O’Brien Schofield, Benson Mayowa, Mike Morgan, Jaye Howard and Sealver Siliga need to step and play well. The long injury list at defensive line might be a harbinger of what’s to come next week, as the Seahawks face a dynamic running team in Carolina for the season opener. Seattle needs as many healthy bodies up front as possible to deal with Cam Newton and Co.
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Can Harper make some flash plays? I think you can pretty much pencil in the top five receivers on Seattle’s 53-man roster in Sidney Rice, Golden Tate, Doug Baldwin, Jermaine Kearse and Stephen Williams. Chris Harper, a fourth-round pick in this year’s draft, needs to make the team’s decision a tough one on whether to keep a sixth receiver by playing well against Oakland. Harper has been coming on of late in practice, but we have not seen the same type of play-making ability in games. And with the team’s health issues at defensive line, the Seahawks might have to risk cutting Harper and passing him through waivers in order to get him on the practice squad.
Can Ware play fullback? I think sixth-round selection Spencer Ware is in the same position as Harper. Second-year pro Derrick Coleman is ahead of him on the depth chart at fullback, and will get the start there with Mike Robinson out due to illness. Ware is a better runner than Coleman, but we have not seen him at fullback for an extensive period of time during exhibition play. The Seahawks need to find out if Ware can be a lead blocker in base formation in Seattle’s physical running game.
Don’t forget about Parker and Walters: Two players who looked good early in training camp but fell down the depth chart because of injury issues are cornerback Ron Parker and receiver Bryan Walters. Both players were running with the second units before hamstring injuries sidelined them for most of the preseason. And now the two get a chance to show that they belong on the final roster. Both players are likely long shots to make the team. However, when Pete Carroll talked on Wednesday about making a tough decision between players that are better right now for the team vs. players who could be a better fit later in the season, I couldn’t help but think of Parker and Walters.
Cut down on the penalties: The Seahawks lead the league in penalties with 34 accepted penalties for 354 yards. Some cannot be helped because of Seattle’s aggressive style of play. However, with the regular season right around the corner, the Seahawks can’t afford to give away that much penalty yardage and win close games each week. So they have to play smarter beginning tonight.