In ten days the Seattle Seahawks will play their first of sixteen regular season NFL games, a road contest against the division rival St. Louis Rams. That’s in a week and a half, and for perspective, the Super Bowl was seven months and two days ago. The NFL has a long, long offseason, and we’re now so, so close to the beginning of a new campaign. Just gotta get through this one last preseason game real quick.
The Oakland Raiders are in town tonight for the fourth and final game of the preseason. Kickoff is at CenturyLink Field tonight at 7pm, and you’d best believe it’s going to get rowdy. There isn’t another home date until September 27th, when the ‘Hawks host the Chicago Bears. I have a feeling lots of people are going to show up tonight.
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Usually the final preseason game functions largely as a regular season game sans counting in the standings, but that might not be the case tonight. Marshawn Lynch, for one, won’t be playing, and everyone knows how big a part of the regular season he’s expected to be. Russell Wilson might not finish out at QB, and there’s still no sign of Kam Chancellor (who probably isn’t making it into week one action, either). There will still be non-starters, and perhaps even guys who don’t make the roster.
You know who will be here? Drew Nowak, who is now more or less officially the starting center. The Seahawks released Lemuel Jeanpierre this week, effectively concluding the summer’s most compelling roster battle. Congrats to Nowak, who’s quickly become a favorite around here. That’s what size plus athleticism will do for you.
And speaking of Lynch not playing, a guy worth keenly focusing on tonight is running back Christine Michael. Lynch is going to sit and Robert Turbin is too hurt to play, so it’s going to be largely on Michael to take control of the running game. Not that his roster spot is at risk, just that a poor performance might lead to some serious questions about the team’s depth at RB. It’s pretty critical that Michael plays well, lest the ‘Hawks have to do some serious soul-searching about their offensive direction.
Aug 29, 2015; San Diego, CA, USA; Seattle Seahawks running back Christine Michael (33) is defended by San Diego Chargers defensive back Adrian Phillips (31) during the third quarter at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
Maybe the biggest still-unsettled position battle is at corner, where Tharold Simon and Cary Williams are both vying to start opposite Richard Sherman (who should get plenty of playing time tonight). Williams has got to be the favorite, but Simon is coming off a strong game. May the best man win, and may the decision be a tough one.
Dion Bailey is talented, but probably not the safety the Seahawks want to be using in week one. However, the earlygoing has made it painfully clear that they’re going to need him to perform at a high level, making this tune-up a rather critical one. If Bailey can stand out again, then the team can feel a little better about the stupid, no-good situation Chancellor has put them in. If he can’t, pressure’s on.
Aside from that, it’s worth watching the wide receiver and defensive line positions. Do Kasen Williams and/or Kevin Smith have legit shots at roster spots? Is Jesse Williams going to stay out in front of the other linemen? This game will inform a startling number of starter decisions, but ultimately it’s about sorting out the depth pieces. And there’s a lot of depth pieces that need sorting.
Tonight. 7pm. CenturyLink Field. Seahawks. Raiders. The regular season starts in ten days. The regular season starts in ten days! Go Seahawks.
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