The Seattle Seahawks will begin their 2018 campaign with a Thursday night preseason home game against the Indianapolis Colts (10 PM ET/7 PM PT on Q13 FOX). As you surely know by now, game results don’t matter in preseason, so ignore the scoreboard and focus on performance, specifically for individual players.
Seeing as this is game one of four exhibitions, the first-team players are unlikely to see much playing time, if any. So the spotlight will shine on the backups, rookies, mini-camp tryouts, roster hopefuls, guys on the bubble, etc. You never know when you’re going to find a gem, and the Seahawks have usually done an excellent job of unearthing hidden or undervalued talents over the years.
Let’s take a look at five Seahawks to keep an eye on throughout tonight’s showdown with Indy.
The Seahawks have had an incredibly difficult time replacing Marshawn Lynch, whether due to injury or poor play, it’s just not worked out. Rashaad Penny was drafted in the first-round out of San Diego State, with much criticism hurled by analysts and even some fans because it’s essentially become taboo to spend a first-rounder on a running back. He was a 2,000 yard rusher in his final year in college, and throughout his career he was a dangerous kick returner.
Penny is competing with Chris Carson for the starting job, but frankly I do not care who wins it. If the split of touches is similar to that of Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara down in New Orleans, I won’t complain. I just want to see how Penny looks in live game action, and whether there is legitimate reason to be excited that Seattle has found its new long-term (read: at least four years) running back.
Younger than Shaquill Griffin by literally a minute or so, Shaquem is the first one-handed player drafted in the modern era, which makes him a sentimental favorite for obvious reasons. Make no mistake about it though, Shaquem can play. He was the Defensive MVP of the 2018 Peach Bowl, and won the 2016 American Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Year award while at Central Florida. He’s been reunited with Shaquill, which is tremendously exciting, but also exciting is what Shaquem can provide both on special teams and at weakside linebacker.
For now, it’s likely that Griffin will be a role player as a rookie, but we can’t ignore that KJ Wright is in the final year of his contract, and Shaquem could fill his shoes starting in 2019. Wright has been mentoring Griffin throughout the offseason, and we should see Shaquem feature heavily in preseason.
Tre Flowers fits the bill for a Seahawks cornerback. He’s listed at 6’3,” 202 lbs, with 33 7/8” arms and a 4.45 40-yard dash. The former Oklahoma State Cowboy didn’t play corner in college, though. Flowers is a safety-to-cornerback conversion project, and is expected to start a cornerback against the Colts.
Byron Maxwell is projected to be the CB2 in Ken Norton Jr’s defense, but Flowers is someone the Seahawks coaching staff seem high on, although Pete Carroll did admit that Flowers has “a long way to go.” Maxwell is 30 years old and on a one-year deal, so if not for 2018, Flowers figures to be a part of the team’s plans for 2019 onward. Depth at CB is critical at this moment, and I’m hopeful that this process has gone well and that Flowers is better suited for corner than safety.
I hold a pretty negative opinion of the Seattle Seahawks receiving corps apart from Doug Baldwin and Tyler Lockett, of which the latter is a free agent in 2019, and Seattle has very rarely given their offensive draft picks a second contract under John Schneider. Jaron Brown is the presumptive #3 WR having been brought on in free agency this offseason. The #4 spot is real tricky. Brandon Marshall has apparently done very well throughout training camp, but he’s coming off a drop-filled, injury-shortening 2017 season. Amara Darboh is very much on the bubble. Tanner McEvoy is still here, I suppose. Marcus Johnson was sent here as part of the Michael Bennett trade.
Then there’s David Moore, a second-year man from little-known Division II East Central University in Ada, Oklahoma. He didn’t make the cut last year but was placed on the practice squad, then eventually activated to the 53-man roster, appearing in the team’s season finale against the Arizona Cardinals.
Even in preseason, Moore only caught 4 passes for 44 yards, but the ever-optimistic Carroll believes that David is poised for big improvement in 2018. He’s impressed at training camp, and now is the chance for him to make his claim to make the final roster come September. Perhaps Moore can prove me wrong and that there is reason to be hopeful about Seattle’s receivers moving forward.
This sounds absurd for me to be championing watching a punter, but let’s face it, preseason provides a lot of punting opportunities, and the Jon Ryan vs. Michael Dickson competition really will ratchet up over the next few weeks. On one side, Ryan has been Seattle’s punter since 2008, but Seattle’s punting DVOA has cratered since 2013, and Ryan is part of the problem. Dickson was such a good punter in college that he declared for the pros early. Seattle used a fifth-rounder to draft him... again, with skepticism (self-included) about trading up with the Denver Broncos to get the former Texas Longhorn. He does an excellent job of pinning opponents inside the 20, and how can you not get pumped up for the man once described as the Aaron Donald of college punting?
Dickson is cheaper by default, whereas cutting Ryan saves $5 million for the Seahawks. If Dickson shines in the preseason, then it’s probably goodbye to Jon, but it’s more than justified. Alternatively, Dickson is the punter, while Ryan gets moved to backup quarterback.
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