Hawks vs. Vikings: What we’re watching

Minnesota logoIt’s been a week of interesting developments for the Seahawks, with Tramaine Brock signing, K.J. Wright out with a knee issue and Justin Britt becoming a rare O-line keeper.

With Brock in, Wright out and a few other personnel comings and goings, we will have plenty to keep an eye on tonight as the Seahawks host Minnesota in their second preseason game.

“It’s a really good test for us,” Pete Carroll said. “It’ll be a really great test for our guys up front on offense; it’s a very, very good defensive front. We look forward in all that we have to try to accomplish in this game. We know we are going against a really good group, so it’ll be a great test for us.

“We are hoping to continue to grow and see areas of emphasis and concern, and kind of get it taken care of so that we are making progress,” he said. “We are looking for progress, really, and there’s a million different areas of that. We don’t want to go take a big step and take a step back and all that. We like to make steady progress, moving forward. We are looking for really good plays on the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. We are looking for great effort.”

Here’s what we’re looking for …

QUARTERBACK
With a big game Sunday, Trevone Boykin appeared to hold the lead on Austin Davis for the No. 2 spot. Boykin got a lot of help from Kasen Williams, so we’ll see if he can keep it up. We’re not writing off Davis, who hit 7 of 9 throws in second-half action vs. the Chargers.
Carroll said: “He had a big night (Sunday). He did beautifully — threw the ball really well, moved well, made some big plays with his feet, just was really in good command of what was going on.”

RUNNING BACK
With Thomas Rawls (ankle) skipping this game, Eddie Lacy will lead the way. The big battle is between Alex Collins and Chris Carson for the No. 4 spot.
Carroll said: “You’re going to see a good dose of Eddie and C.J. (Prosise) and Chris and Alex. … We’re going to just keep accumulating reps as we evaluate those guys, with really high hopes. It’s a very competitive group. Hopefully we can get moving at the line of scrimmage so we can see those guys.”

WIDE RECEIVER
Paul Richardson made a surprising return to practice from a sprained shoulder suffered on a diving 25-yard catch vs. the Chargers, and Carroll said he will at least go through pregame warmups tonight. So will Tyler Lockett, who missed the last game as he comes back from a broken leg. While those two seem doubtful to actually play, Doug Baldwin (ankle) and Amara Darboh (sternum) might see at least a little time after missing the opener. There really seems only one spot left, with Kasen Williams and Tanner McEvoy seemingly the favorites. They need to show well again.
Carroll said: “It’s a really good group. We’re excited about them, and we’ll just see what happens. (Seeing) Doug and Darboh and Lockett back out there and flying around just makes you realize how competitive a group it is and how fast we are and how quick we are. I don’t know (how it will turn out and) won’t worry about it.”

TIGHT END
Luke Willson (groin) is not playing again tonight, meaning Nick Vannett, Marcus Lucas and Tyrone Swoopes should get a lot of action. 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 Jimmy Graham, Willson and Vannett.
Carroll said: “Luke is a couple of days away, so this weekend should be really important for him. I’m thinking that by the middle of next week, he should be ready to go. Luke is a guy that always heals quickly, and that would put him well ahead of schedule from the little thing he has.”

OFFENSIVE LINE
The line drew a lot of attention this week, with Britt signing a three-year extension and Tom Cable announcing they have settled on George Fant at left tackle and Luke Joeckel at left guard. The big battles remain on the right side. Mark Glowinski will start at right guard tonight as he competes against Oday Aboushi, and Germain Ifedi will continue to be the favorite over Ethan Pocic at right tackle. Pocic also will play at right guard tonight, the coaches said. Cable is hoping Ifedi catches up after missing a week and Rees Odhiambo becomes more consistent.
Cable said: “(Odhiambo is) definitely, I think, talented enough to do it. But I think sometimes the mental errors, being on the right page of communication, needs to be cleaner. We’re counting on him and so we need to bring that along. If he’s ever going to be a part of that conversation to maybe go over and start on the right side, he’s got to clean up his game. He has some moments where it looks great and some moments where we’re like, ‘OK, we have work to do.’”

DEFENSIVE LINE
Michael Bennett’s anthem protest is the big news from this unit. He has talked to national media about it a lot this week, further articulating his thoughts on this nation’s social injustices. On the field, the big thing to watch might be Marcus Smith, a guy Carroll seems eager to see. The former first-round pick is a versatile player who is in the mix against seven other guys for probably two spots. Nazair Jones, one of the team’s four third-round picks, had a great first game and seems a clear lock (as all third-rounders should be), and Christian French, Rodney Coe and David Bass looked good vs. the Chargers, too. Carroll said Dion Jordan suffered a hamstring injury that set back his recovery from a previous knee problem, and the former first-rounder seems unlikely to play this season. “He’s still shooting to see if there’s something to get done here before the end of the preseason,” Carroll said, “but we’ll find out in a bit.”
Carroll said: “I think (Smith) has a very good spectrum of abilities for us and things that we can do. We’d like to see him rush; he’ll play some outside linebacker of course too. We’re really happy to get him back. He looked really good in practice. He had a very good week this week and he looks like an exciting addition if things continue.”

LINEBACKER
Wright missed the week getting an unknown procedure done on a knee. There had been speculation that Wright might have jetted off to Switzerland to undergo platelet-rich plasma therapy, as Sidney Rice did in 2013. But Carroll said that was not the case, and he anticipates Wright returning to practice Monday. Dewey McDonald will start for Wright tonight. McDonald and D.J. Alexander –both special-teams stalwarts — would seem like the favorites to join Wright, Bobby Wagner, Michael Wilhoite and Terence Garvin as Seattle’s 2017 linebackers. Of course, longtime vet Mike Morgan might have something to say about it, too.
Carroll said: “(Wright is) not injured. This is a process and a long-range thought that he was excited about and so we advocated with him. He went for it and we are hoping it will be a good step for the rest of the season. He wasn’t hurt. He played last week and was fine. He could have played this week, but this was the time to do it and so we went for it. We are thinking he will be back in action next week in practice with no setbacks.”

SECONDARY
Brock, a seven-year veteran who played in 80 games for the 49ers, changes the picture at cornerback — putting the pressure on Jeremy Lane and rookie Shaquill Griffin. Lane (groin) is back after missing the preseason opener, and he has his work cut out to fend off Griffin, Brock and Neiko Thorpe. We count eight locks (the vets and third-round picks Griffin and Delano Hill), which leaves two spots from a group that includes Brock, fourth-round pick Tedric Thompson, Pierre Desir, DeAndre Elliott, sixth-round pick Mike Tyson, Demetrius McCray and Marcus Cromartie.
Carroll said: “(Brock) is a really good football player. He’s got versatility. He can play inside. He is going to get a good look at the nickel spot. But he is a really versatile football player and all around really tough, competitive guy. With all the homework we did on him, we think he has a chance to fit in really well in that regard. … We don’t know a whole lot about him in comparison with our guys, but we will figure it out in the next few weeks where he fits.”

SPECIAL TEAMS
Blair Walsh is coming off a nice Seattle debut — he hit field goals of 42 and 28 yards — as he faces his former team tonight. J.D. McKissic gets another shot to push for a roster spot. In L.A., he returned three punts for 31 yards and a kickoff for 19, and he also made a big tackle on a kick.

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