Receivers stand out in preseason opener

at-los-angeles-logoThe knock on the slight and slender Paul Richardson leading up to the 2014 draft was the big potential for injury in the NFL.

Turns out that was a well-founded concern, because Richardson just has not been able to stay healthy. He didn’t get much action until late in his rookie year, and then he tore his ACL in a playoff game against Carolina. That and a hamstring injury burned almost his entire 2015 season, and he didn’t do much last year until Tyler Lockett was injured late.

When he has played, he has shown a knack for making great plays. He did it again in the preseason opener Sunday — diving to catch a 25-yard pass from Russell Wilson. But he also suffered a sprained shoulder on the play and will be out at least a couple of weeks.

It was a rough blow for Richardson, who had a chance to bump Jermaine Kearse as the No. 3 receiver behind Doug Baldwin and Lockett. Now, Richardson seemingly will revert to fighting off other guys for the No. 4 spot.

Kasen Williams, who has had his own injury issues, took full advantage of Richardson’s early departure. Williams caught all four passes thrown his way, gaining 119 yards. Every one of them was a tough catch — contested or diving or twisting. If he can stay healthy, Williams should make a big run against a crowded receiver field.

Here’s what we saw at each position in the Seahawks’ 48-17 win over the Chargers:

QUARTERBACK
Trevone Boykin is a big playground guy. He doesn’t do everything right — misses plenty of reads and throws — but he finds ways to make plays. He hit several big passes, with a lot of help from Williams, and finished with 12 completions in 15 attempts for 189 yards, a touchdown and an interception. He also ran for 31 yards and a score — showing that playground ability. Austin Davis looked fine against third-teamers, hitting 7 of 9 throws.
How we see it: Boykin took the lead for the backup spot, but it’s too early to decide between the two. Davis seems likely to get the No. 2 reps in the second game, Friday vs. Minnesota.

RUNNING BACK
Chris Carson, Pete Carroll’s personal draft pick, showed why everyone has been talking about him at camp. He looks like an excellent one-cut zone runner. He scored twice in seven carries, plowing through a defender on the second TD. Eddie Lacy made his debut but did not get a lot of blocking help (10 yards on four runs). Marcel Reece blocked well for Lacy and Carson, helping the rookie score from the 1.
How we see it: Carson seems to have passed Alex Collins for the fourth, and probably final, RB spot. It’s hard to see Tre Madden bumping the veteran Reece at fullback.

WIDE RECEIVER
With Baldwin (ankle), Lockett and third-round rookie Amara Darboh (sternum) out and Richardson leaving early, the younger receivers got plenty of chances. Williams was the star, but rookie David Moore and second-year guys Tanner McEvoy and Kenny Lawler all caught balls, too. Speedy project Cyril Grayson got a couple of chances, but he outran one pass by Boykin that was picked off and then couldn’t get his second foot down in the end zone for a touchdown.
How we see it: The Hawks are so deep at this position that they probably will keep six. Baldwin, Lockett, Darboh, Richardson and Kearse are apparent locks, which means Williams, McEvoy, Lawler, Moore and Grayson (among others) are fighting for the final spot. And that means it will come down to special teams. Right now, it’s either Williams or McEvoy (a big factor on special teams and trick plays).

TIGHT END
With Jimmy Graham and Luke Willson not playing, Marcus Lucas started and made a couple of catches. Converted QB Tyrone Swoopes also caught two.
How we see it: It is possible that Lucas or Swoopes makes a push to become the fourth tight end, but the Hawks are likely to go with just Graham, Willson and Nick Vannett.

OFFENSIVE LINE
As usual, this is the biggest question on this team. And, as usual at this time, there are no solid answers. Veteran Oday Aboushi apparently has the edge on third-year guy Mark Glowinski at right guard. Glowinski seemed to have a lot of problems vs. the Chargers. Aside from a couple of whiffs against Joey Bosa, Germain Ifedi looked to play pretty well at right tackle. Against second-teamers, he got good push in the running game and protected pretty well in the passing game. Luke Joeckel worked at both guard and tackle and held his own, too. Tom Cable used four combinations in the first four drives, so continuity is not a priority right now. (When is it ever with these guys?)
How we see it: The unit seems pretty set, with the ninth spot seemingly between center Joey Hunt and UDFA guard Jordan Roos (who was called for a clip). Until Cable lets five guys play together for several quarters, there will be very little progress made. He needs to pick a starting five next week and let them play a lot in the final two games.

DEFENSIVE LINE
Nazair Jones, one of the team’s four third-round picks, had a great first game. He notched four tackles and tipped a pass that turned into an interception. He also had a tackle for loss and a QB hit that nearly resulted in a pick. Christian French found himself on the lucky side of a couple of plays. He scooped up a fumble and took it to the 1, setting up a Seattle TD. Later, he got a sack when Cardale Jones was flushed out by Jeremy Liggins. Rodney Coe was very active, and David Bass also had a good game. Marcus Smith and Quinton Jefferson did not play.
How we see it: Jones looks like he will have a big role in the D-tackle rotation, especially with Malik McDowell out. Seven players are locks on this line, meaning there are probably two spots open among the remaining nine players.

LINEBACKER
The veterans looked good. Michael Wilhoite forced Branden Oliver to tip a pass that landed in the arms of Terence Garvin, who returned it 37 yards for a TD. Wilhoite and Garvin should provide some good veteran savvy next to/behind star stalwarts Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright. Kache Palacio led the team with seven tackles vs. the Chargers. Special-teams ace D.J. Alexander, picked up in a trade with Kansas City, did not play.
How we see it: With Wilhoite and Garvin locked in, there are probably two open spots for the remaining five players. Alexander seems likely to snag one, assuming he gets healthy.

SECONDARY
All eyes were on Shaquill Griffin and the other rookies, and they showed the typical mixed bag. Griffin started strong, helping break up a deep sideline pass alongside Earl Thomas, who looks fully recovered from his broken leg. But Griffin also gave up the first TD to Antonio Gates. Fourth-round safety Tedric Thompson failed to hold the deep part of the field in the zone, yielding a 74-yard TD to Travis Benjamin. Pierre Desir, talked up before the draft by John Schneider and Pete Carroll, made sure no one forgot about him. His blitz sack forced a fumble late, and he also knocked down a pass and finished with three tackles. Jordan Simone, who had been on and off the roster, appears headed off again after suffering a serious knee injury.
How we see it: We count eight locks (the vets and third-round picks Griffin and Delano Hill), which leaves Thompson and Desir fighting for two spots in a group that includes DeAndre Elliott, sixth-round pick Mike Tyson, Demetrius McCray and Marcus Cromartie.

SPECIAL TEAMS
Blair Walsh did his job in his Seattle debut, hitting two field goals (42 and 28), and seems to have rid himself of the negative mindset he developed in Minnesota. J.D. McKissic returned three punts for 31 yards and a kickoff for 19, and he also made a big tackle on a kick. He has received some buzz during camp, so it will be interesting to see whether he can do enough to push for a spot.
How we see it: Walsh apparently will be the guy, with no competition needed. The question is whether the Hawks want McKissic (or someone else) to help lift some of the return load from Lockett.

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