The starters won’t get much more than a cameo, if that, tonight in Oakland. But the Seahawks have some issues to settle behind those guys in the final exhibition game before the opener against Green Bay a week from tonight at CenturyLink Field.
“This is a big final step for us … a lot of guys with opportunities. A lot of guys battling for spots,” coach Pete Carroll said. “It’s a highly competitive final opportunity. So it’s a big deal for us.
“We are hoping to show gives and (give) them the opportunity to make this club.”
Leave it “Always Compete” Pete to charge up a final exhibition game with his favorite c-word.
“There’s stuff that’s in the balance,” he said. “There are competitions in spots for guys where it’s one or the other.”
Such as at weak-side defensive end in pass-rush situations. A specialized job, to be sure. And no Seahawk has been more special at it this month than five-year veteran O’Brien Schofield. I wrote in Wednesday’s News Tribune why Schofield is flying into opposing backfields seemingly unblocked. He’s scorned, with an $8 million free-agent payday taken from him this spring. He wants another chance at free agency after this one-year, veteran-minimum contract worth $730,000 ends after this season. He’s been better this preseason than Benson Mayowa, last year’s training-camp star as an undrafted rookie out of Idaho. Tonight is Mayowa’s last chance to take the job from Schofield in what I see as one of those “one or the other” spots Carroll mentioned.
I wrote in today’s TNT about what most of you will notice most tonight: How much Terrelle Pryor does in his return to Oakland to make the Seahawks keep three quarterbacks on the regular-season roster. I’m with those of you on here who raise an eye at Pryor saying this week that he plain wasn’t ready to go into the exhibition last week against Chicago in the fourth quarter. Not what coaches want to here at the position that requires the most preparation on the team, especially given that being prepared to enter on no notice in worst-case scenarios is the only scenario in which Pryor would enter a game this season for Seattle. I still sense they keep three QBs when they announce the final cuts Saturday afternoon.
Other players getting a final chance to make the team tonight:
–WR Bryan Walters from Kirkland comes back from a rib injury that kept him out last week. He hurt those ribs impressing Carroll and teammates by running like a mad man into San Diego Chargers on punt returns two weeks ago. Carroll said Walters, the Ivy League’s career punt-return leader at Cornell, is available tonight to return punts and kickoffs. To me, the Seahawks really wouldn’t mind someone to emerge at punt returner to keep them from having All-Pro safety Earl Thomas as their primary man back there. I believe the risk of putting Thomas back there is too imprudent to try when the games get real, but then again Carroll is all about putting his best athletes wherever they will help the team most, regardless of risk.
–WR Phil Bates. If they keep Walters, it could come at the expense of Bates. Something’s got to give at this loaded position, and I just can’t see the Seahawks not keeping Ricardo Lockette. He’s too valuable making booming tackles on special teams, the kind of example Carroll can point to in the film room and tell his young players who may be grousing about not getting snaps on offense and defense, “See, this is how you carve out a place with us. Look at his dedication and effort covering these kickoffs and punts!” That goes a long way into building competition at every position, and that is Lockette’s worth beyond how many snaps he ever gets at wide receiver.
–Former Raider Phillip Adams at cornerback. Adams had a rough start to August, repeatedly getting beaten deep in practices and some in the early exhibition games. But he’s come on lately, and now veteran CB A.J. Jefferson is out for a long time with a major ankle injury and starting nickel back Jeremy Lane is out indefinitely with a groin strain (that Carroll doesn’t think is serious). The door is open for Adams to bull through and onto the roster with a big showing tonight against his old team.
–Seattle claimed C Patrick Lewis off waivers Wednesday from Jacksonville. He essentially has a two-day trial ending tonight to become a backup-center option behind Max Unger. That would free Lemuel Jeanpierre to play more guard, where he has worked more this month. Lewis’ arrival suggests the Seahawks aren’t yet sold on Stephen Schilling of Bellevue in his move from guard to center this month.
–Columnist Dave Boling writes today in the paper that the NFL’s fine and penalties are worth it to the Seahawks to continue practicing the ways the always have under Carroll — and that the rest of the teams in the league would gladly pay this price to get their players to work at this level.
–Lots of good suggestions on what to ask Marshawn Lynch when he is scheduled to talk to the media on Tuesday for the first time since the Super Bowl. Initially I solicited questions kind of tongue-in-cheek, but some have made me laugh and some have made me think.
–I’ll be on another of our live game chats from the Oakland Coliseum (I will always call it that) press box tonight beginning at 6:30 p.m. on thenewstribune.com/sports. Join Seahawks fans everywhere in the conversation.