With the starters being eased into action in the Seattle Seahawks first preseason game, the backups and bottom half of the roster were given an extended run on Thursday night. For the most part, Seattle’s starters and established veterans saw only a drive or two each; just Barkevious Mingo saw extended action among expected starters for Week 1.
The brief appearance for the top of the Seahawks’ roster meant the rookies and players on the bubble got a chance to make an impression, as they attempt to make the 53-man roster. Some grabbed the opportunity with both hands and will build upon a strong performance against the L.A. Chargers next week; for others, a steep climb got considerably more difficult.
Aside from rookie Rasheem Green, Jefferson had the most impressive performance along the defensive line against the Indianapolis Colts. Strong at the point of attack and active inside against the pass, Jefferson began the preseason with the tenacity of a playoff game.
There are two plays that stand out for Jefferson against Indianapolis. The first ended the Colts’ opening drive. With Andrew Luck marching his offense down the field, checking down to his backs as they were consistently finding space, they faced a third-and-three. Jefferson swatted the left guard’s hands with ease, forcing Luck to climb and escape up the middle, only for Bobby Wagner to deliver a series-ending hit.
The second was a simple running play in which Jefferson evaded the initial strike, worked laterally to his left and disengaged with perfect timing to make the tackle in the backfield.
After Shaquill Griffin came out of the game, King found himself lined up on the outside, opposite Tre Flowers. King was immediately a focus of Indianapolis’ offense and he responded, breaking up a pass intended for T.Y. Hilton on third down.
Later in the game, King displayed outstanding coverage on a shot to the endzone. King remained step-for-step with K.J. Brent (No.15), forcing him towards the sideline and, while King didn’t get his head around, he reacted to Brent’s eyes and got a hand into Brent’s frame to disrupt the throw.
With five virtual locks at cornerback — Griffin, Byron Maxwell, Justin Coleman, Neiko Thorpe and Flowers — King will need an outstanding preseason on both defense and special teams to crack the 53-man roster. Against the Colts, he got off to a great start, allowing just one catch on three targets, for 10 yards, as well as laying a big hit on punt coverage, which was flagged.
One of the many receivers towards the bottom of a crowded position group, Stringfellow didn’t see much action on Thursday night, but when he did, it was positive. The first came early, on a typical-for-Seattle rub route, with Marcus Johnson picking the defender and Stringfellow getting free, following it with a nice run after the catch up the sideline.
The second came after a moment of Alex McGough magic (organized chaos?), as Stringfellow high pointed the football extremely well, only for it to be nullified by a weak offensive pass interference call.
Stringfellow has a long way to go if he’s to even get into the fifth and sixth wide receiver competition, but he flashed a couple of the things that make him an interesting prospect.
Back with the Seahawks for a second time, Calitro matched Shaquem Griffin’s energy and production against Indianapolis on Thursday night, flying sideline-to-sideline making plays. Calitro ended with six tackles and added a seventh on special teams. With Wagner, K.J. Wright, Griffin, Mingo and Jacob Martin expected locks, Calitro must prove to be a great special teamer to make the 53-man roster. His performance against the Colts was a promising start on a long road to the final roster.
The third man in the SAM linebacker/edge rusher group along with Mingo and Martin has had an anonymous training camp, greatly overshadowed by the two players ahead of him. The UDFA’s preseason debut didn’t go much better. Pugh appeared to be bulked up from his time at Florida State, but that didn’t help him on the edge. He was easily washed out against runs and appeared lost dropping into coverage twice in the red zone.
With Mingo and Martin both getting off to great starts, and Pugh not progressing in training camp, it’s tough to envision the UDFA sticking on the roster beyond cutdowns.
Moore is firmly in the mix for the final receiver spot, battling with his fellow sophomore Amara Darboh. After two weeks of training camp and a preseason game, Moore has taken a considerable lead on Darboh. Both have missed time with injury, however Moore was able to recover from a hip flexor issue in time for Thursday’s game, while Darboh sat out.
His biggest moment came on a 28-yard catch up the sideline, winning above the rim in a one-on-one situation.
The ability to give his quarterback a chance when isolated on the perimeter is the trait that separates Moore from the rest of the receiver group, and it could very well be why he ends up on the 53-man roster come September. Brian Schottenheimer praised his ability in those situations earlier in training camp, as well:
“You see the quarterbacks trusting him. When he’s one-on-one, they’re taking the shot and he’s making those plays, which in their mind even more, subconsciously they think ‘Wow, this is a guy I can go to when he’s one-on-one.’”
After Week 1 of the preseason, several players have launched themselves into the conversation surrounding the final roster, while others have all but fallen by the wayside. And while Tyvis Powell’s electrifying preseason debut two seasons ago can serve as a reminder nothing is decided yet, it’ll be worth watching who can build upon Thursday’s loss.