Hawks vs. Minnesota: What we’re watching

Minnesota logoThe Seahawks got off to a good start in their preseason opener in Kansas City, receiving some solid performances from the No. 1 offensive line and many rookies — namely undrafted quarterback Trevone Boykin, safety Tyvis Powell and wide receiver Tanner McEvoy.

Now they have to keep it going tonight against the Minnesota Vikings.

A lot has been said about this Seahawks squad being as deep as — perhaps deeper than — the 90-man group the Hawks brought to camp in the 2013 Super Bowl season.

This week, Russell Wilson called this “the most competitive team and talented team” the Hawks have had. Pete Carroll agreed.

“It is hard for me to compare it to the 2013 group other than to know that there were so many good players in that roster makeup. It feels like that again,” Carroll said. “It feels like a lot of guys that can play, we can be comfortable moving them in and out of the lineup, which means that we have a very competitive roster. So I don’t disagree with (Wilson).

“I feel like there are a lot of guys at the receiver spots, a lot of running backs, a lot of corners. We are going to have a rotation at the D-line that we like. Those are all really good signs. And the tight end position I think is going to be better than it’s been. So those are all positives and pluses.”

Carroll said the starters will play more tonight, with the Vikings’ defense presenting a good test for the offense. He said this game is “the most valuable” part of the short week, and then he smacked the schedule makers.

“It’s kind of a messed up week to come back in preseason with only a couple days to prepare. That’s not what we want,” he said. “But it will set us up for a really good mode in the next few weeks (all Thursday games) and we’ll see what that means.”

Here’s what we will be watching in the home opener tonight:

QUARTERBACK: The backups.
Trevone Boykin seems to have an obvious lead on Jake Heaps for the No. 2 spot, particularly after his clutch performance in the two-minute drill in Kansas City. Boykin has a lot to learn still, but his ability to play through mistakes and struggles to beat the Chiefs on the final play said a lot about him. It will be interesting to see whether he continues to get most of the No. 2 snaps.

RUNNING BACK: Alex Collins and Zac Brooks.
Christine Michael showed his wares last week, and Carroll spoke as if he already has locked up a roster spot. Collins had shared the practice load with Michael all camp but did not get to play much in Kansas City, so this will be his big chance. Carroll said, “He had a good week, and he’ll get a good look.” Brooks faces an uphill battle to make the roster, but we will finally see the seventh-rounder. We will not, however, see C.J. Prosise. Carroll said he will work out before the game and they will aim for next week. “We need a good solid one to make sure that he’s back,” Carrol said. “So next week, if all goes well, we’re counting on him playing.” At fullback, Carroll said they have an experiment in mind for this game. They moved Kyle Coleman there after the KC game.

WIDE RECEIVER: Kasen Williams, Kenny Lawler, Tanner McEvoy.
Williams will make his 2016 debut, aiming to fend off Lawler, McEvoy and others as he tries to secure the fifth spot. It’s possible the Hawks will keep six, but that will be determined by special-teams performance. McEvoy could make a big move if he can build on his excellent finish in the opener, and Lawler showed well in his chances in that game, too.

TIGHT END: Nick Vannett, Brandon Williams.
Still no Jimmy Graham, who is still coming back slowly. Because he might not be ready for the opener, it is looking more and more likely that the Hawks will keep Williams. His big strength is special-teams play, but he needs to show he can step in on offense and help Luke Willson and the rookie Vannett, who looked pretty good in the first game.

OFFENSIVE LINE: Germain Ifedi, Justin Britt, Bradley Sowell.
J’Marcus Webb is still out, which means the Hawks will stay with the same formation they used in Kansas City — Sowell at left tackle, Garry Gilliam at right. Carroll said Sowell needs to show he can stand up against good players. “He’s going to get a great player this week, Everson Griffen, and they’ve got a really good rush group, so it’ll be nice for him to match up with that stuff and see how he does.” If the line performs well again, it’s pretty easy to see the coaches sticking with this bunch and not bothering to try to work Webb back into the No. 1 group.

DEFENSIVE LINE: Tony McDaniel, Jarran Reed, Quinton Jefferson, Brandin Bryant, Ryan Robinson.
McDaniel is the story of the week, coming back to the Hawks fresh off his Leavenworth vacation. He will see a few snaps, and it will be good to glimpse the 6-foot-7 tackle in the mix again. “We know he was a significant factor in the past,” Carroll said, “and we’re hoping he’ll show us in the next couple weeks that he belongs here. We’re going to give him a good shot.” Otherwise, this game is about seeing more of the young guys. Carroll said he wants to see the linemen get off the ball faster. If McDaniel, Jefferson and Bryant play well, it will put the pressure on the injured Jordan Hill. Sealver Siliga already seems destined not to make it.

LINEBACKER: Cassius Marsh, Eric Pinkins, Steve Longa.
Marsh got most of his looks as a pass rusher last week, and he did quite well. But he continues to practice at SAM linebacker, and that minor battle among him Pinkins and Mike Morgan continues to merit keeping an eye on.

SECONDARY: Brandon Browner, Tye Smith, Tharold Simon, Tyvis Powell.
These continue to be the guys to watch for the spots behind the top six DBs. Browner played close to the line a lot in Kansas City, and it will be interesting to see him in space more. Simon had a rough debut, but Carroll is still very high on him. “Tharold has had a great camp,” the coach said. “He has had a very, very consistent camp technique wise and he’s a big guy out there, so he has done really well. I am probably most pleased with his progress because we haven’t seen him really be fit. He has been kind of banged up for such a long time. So he has to really compete. He is going to play quite a bit in this game and the next couple weeks.” Carroll said he loves his combinations in the secondary and reiterated he plans to find favorable matchups with his varied DBs. Kam Chancellor will not play, but Kelcie McCray continues to be a stellar find as the No. 3 safety.


2 thoughts on “Hawks vs. Minnesota: What we’re watching”

  1. FYI- Your 2016 Schedule is wrong. You only have 15 games. Saints on Oct 30th, then Bills on 7th, Pats on 13th and Eagles on the 20th.


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