The dress rehearsal has arrived.
The Seahawks will play their starters for three quarters against the Cowboys tonight, and their first priority will be for Russell Wilson and the offense to finally finish a drive.
So far, Wilson and company have been shut out this preseason.
“We’re just giving too many situations away, making it too difficult to keep the kind of rhythm that we like,” Pete Carroll said. “I like to see us play a lot sharper and see where that leads us. Does that allow us to move the football and score some points like we like to? I would bet it will.”
Wilson was sacked four times by Minnesota, and two of them were his fault.
“I put those on me,” Wilson said. “We just need to do a better job of that. It’s a collective effort, but we’re doing a great job. I’m really excited about what we have, especially up front with what those guys are doing. They give me plenty of time, which is a great thing.
“There are a couple of times when you need to throw it away; that’s my competitive side — that will never change. I’m not just going to give up on plays.”
But he said he understands he needs to save plays from becoming negatives, not turning a second-and-seven into a third-and-13. “So that’s really the simple focus. It’s pretty simple and that’s the way I look at it.”
As for tonight, Wilson said, “We want to play great football across the board. We want to be in attack mode, we want to stay on the field. We’ve had some great drives; we just haven’t put it in the end zone as much as we wanted to. We’re going to do that and we’re excited about that.”
This game will feature the long-awaited Seahawk debuts of J’Marcus Webb and C.J. Prosise, along with the return of Will Tukuafu and the 2016 debuts of Kam Chancellor and Jordan Hill.
Here’s a look at the roster status heading into the Dallas game:
This position seems pretty locked in, with Trevone Boykin obviously the favored backup QB. This game will be more about Wilson than Boykin though.
Thomas Rawls will be ready to start in Week 1, Carroll said, and Christine Michael has proven he is ready to be the No. 2 guy. Now it comes down to the final two or three spots. Prosise will make his preseason debut tonight, and the coaches are eager to finally see him. “He’s got some catching up to do,” Darrell Bevell said, “We like where he is mentally, but there’s still a long way to go.”
The Hawks seem dead set on having a fullback, and they went back to Tukuafu after all of the young guys failed. “Will has really brought an attitude to the position and an intensity that we really like,” Carroll said. “Nobody was matching up to him so we thought we’d bring him in, see how he looks.”
There’s a lot of talk about how deep this receiving corps is, but that has not proven to be very true — mainly because half of the young guys have been injured. SeaDawgs Kasen Williams and Kevin Smith have not been available and seem unlikely to make the initial 53 at this point. Tanner McEvoy and Kenny Lawler appear to be the favorites for the No. 5 spot, especially if they continue to progress. Special teams will factor huge in that last spot. At this point, it would be surprising if the Hawks kept six.
With Jimmy Graham still working his way back and Nick Vannett out with a high ankle sprain, this group is suddenly pretty thin. Carroll made it sound like Brandon Williams has made the roster, telling KJR, “He’s gonna be a core special-teams guy.”
The coaches are pretty pleased with the interior three — Carroll calls them “monsters” — and are just trying to figure out their tackle situation. “We’re pretty settled right now,” Carroll said. “However, we’re just allowing the competition to play itself out and we don’t want to cut off anybody’s opportunities. It’s more likely not to change a lot, but we want to keep the competition open and the guys are showing that they’re worthy of that.”
Webb finally is going to play. “I didn’t like the fact he lost some of his opportunity there by being out,” Carroll said. “So he’s come back very determined and looked very good in practice. I expect him to play well in this game, just based on how he’s practiced.”
Bevell said, “There’s a lot of shuffling that is still going on. The cool part about this third preseason game is to get to see these guys play together for as long as they can … so we’ll be able to have some good evaluations then.”
Hill finally will play, and he needs to show he can stay healthy and contribute if he is going to hold off the younger linemen. Tony McDaniel played quite well in his first game and looks like he could be a great addition, a two-time Super Bowl Seahawk bringing “veteran wisdom,” as Michael Bennett called it.
Quinton Jefferson has played a lot with the first unit, and Carroll has talked about him as if he already has made the team. But he’s a rookie, so it’s not a done deal yet. Brandin Bryant, Ryan Robinson and Sealver Siliga might be fighting for one spot — or none.
With Cassius Marsh also playing linebacker, Kevin Pierre-Louis and Eric Pinkins might be battling for the final spot. Pierre-Louis would seem to have the edge in that case. There’s certainly still a chance one of the young linebackers makes a run, but this crew seems mostly set.
Tharold Simon has not shown much in the games, but Carroll loves him, so consider him off the bubble. Brandon Browner seems to be close to a lock due to the role Carroll plans for him, leaving the last spot or two to Tye Smith, Tyvis Powell or Marcus Burley. Powell could have the edge on the ninth spot due to his special-teams prowess, and Smith’s size and long-term potential could help him ace out Burley. You have to wonder if the Hawks might trade one of these guys before final cuts.