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How 5 players on the roster bubble performed on Thursday night

NFL: Preseason-Denver Broncos at Seattle Seahawks Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Seahawks kicked off their preseason campaign on Thursday night with a victory, defeating the Broncos 22-14 in what was easily the biggest game ever contested between the two former division rivals. While some starters, most notably Russell Wilson, did not feature at all for Seattle, players on the bottom half of the roster saw considerable playing time in their bids to make the final 53. Some took advantage of this opportunity and boosted their stock, others, not so much.

Here are the players on the bubble who grabbed attention on Thursday, good or bad:

Bryan Mone

The massive UDFA defensive tackle, listed by the team at 366 pounds, saw a considerable amount of playing time (41% of snaps) at the 1-tech. Mone absolutely made the most of his opportunity, playing stout against the run, and quite surprisingly, disruptive against the pass. He registered a tackle for loss, in addition to two other tackles.

Time and time again, Mone absorbed double teams on the inside, allowing second level defenders such as Austin Calitro, to flow freely to the football—at one point letting Calitro arrive, unblocked, into the backfield to drop the running back for a loss. The Seahawks defensive tackle group is pretty open, and if Mone continues to play as he did on Thursday, he could very well make the 53.

Shaquem Griffin

Though I strongly belief Griffin’s roster spot is quite secure, with a loaded linebacker corps he will need at least a solid preseason to maintain that security. As is the case when he was drafted, Griffin’s path to making an impact is on special teams. He nearly made an immediate impact there against the Broncos, forcing a fumble on the opening kickoff. He was later the first man downfield on a punt, only to miss on the tackle. Griffin also kept contain on a third down, with Denver nearing Seattle’s end zone, which drew praise on the broadcast. In a new position on defense, Griffin’s comfort will grow, and with it, his impact.

(Austin Calitro stood out positively as well, as Mookie Alexander wrote here. Calitro looked good, covering running backs out wide and out of the backfield, forcing a fourth down incompletion and a stop short on a third down. He was the benefactor of Mone taking on a double team early in the second quarter, as well. The best case scenario for Calitro may be a strong preseason landing him on another team’s 53-man roster; either way, he got off to a strong start.)

Ethan Pocic

If everyone is healthy along the interior of the Seahawks’ line—Mike Iupati, Phil Haynes, Justin Britt, D.J. Fluker and Jordan Simmons—Pocic’s path to the 53 is likely as a backup center. After starting the game at left guard, Pocic slid over to center when Britt exited the game early, and looked sound before Joey Hunt took over in the second half. Pocic handled the Broncos’ hulking nose tackle, Mike Purcell, one-on-one a few times, a great endorsement for a player who has lacked functional strength in the past. Pocic looked to be communicating well and had a good understanding of where, and when, to slide over to the left or right to help.

Wes Saxton

A recent addition to the roster, the tight end is a long-shot to make the roster—his most likely path would come if Jacob Hollister continues to battle injuries. However, it’s worth mentioning the South Alabama product had a crunching crackback block on Bo Scarbrough’s best run of the night. He later had a 26-yard catch and run, where he smoothly secured the pass, turned up field and moved with appealing fluidity. With Will Dissly and Ed Dickson unlikely to play much, if at all, this preseason, we should see more of Saxton.

Barkevious Mingo

Ahead of Seattle’s first preseason game, Mingo confirmed he had made the switch to EDGE full-time, after playing LB/EDGE during his first season with the Seahawks. Perhaps it was born out of necessity, with Seattle lacking numbers on the outside. Or, maybe it was trying to maximize a great athlete in a new role. Either way, he got a big opportunity on Thursday, playing 56% of the defense’s snaps. Though he did add a sack late in the game, Mingo struggled to win one-on-one against Denver’s right tackle... late in the fourth quarter of a preseason game. That’s awfully discouraging. Aside from the sack, Mingo’s best pressure came looping through the G-C gap.

In fairness to Mingo, he again played well on special teams, as he did throughout 2018, posting a pair of tackles in the third phase.

Quick Notes:

  • A pair of rookie wide receivers, Jazz Ferguson and John Ursua, positively stood out as well. That’s been covered here, by our own John P. Gilbert. Ferguson’s ability above the rim is incredibly appealing.
  • Paxton Lynch making it a legitimate competition shocked me, but it’s an encouraging sign, particularly with Geno Smith set to miss some time. Lynch threw with anticipation on a couple of throws, including Ferguson’s first two catches.
  • It was awesome to see DeShawn Shead, back with the Seahawks, making a big play.
  • There is a logjam at wide receiver for (what will likely be) the sixth and final spot. Among those competing is Keenan Reynolds, who had a nice kickoff return. He later made a poor choice to bring a kickoff out of the endzone, though. If Reynolds can take away the need for Tyler Lockett to return kicks regularly, it could give him a bit of an edge in the wide receiver competition.

Seattle will return to preseason action next Sunday, in Minnesota against the Vikings.