What we’re watching in Los Angeles

Logo -- PreseasonThe Seahawks have had a couple of surprise changes since their first preseason game.

As they head down to Los Angeles to face the Chargers in preseason Game 2, they will be without Rashaad Penny and Marcus Smith – the latter a surprise release Friday due to personal issues.

The Seahawks were going to have to make a roster transaction to accommodate new pass rusher Erik Walden, but cutting another pass rusher was a surprise.

It’s not like the Hawks are flush with pass rush, but Smith apparently has some personal issues he is working out and Pete Carroll said Smith agreed “it was the right thing to do.”

The Hawks also swapped out a cornerback for a running back, since Penny and Gerald Holmes (concussion) won’t play. In good RB news, C.J. Prosise is expected to play. Of course, he was expected to play last week, too, and then failed to.

Here’s what Carroll is looking for in L.A.: “We need to clean up all of the stuff that happened in the second half (against the Colts). We had 10 penalties in the second half. We need to get rid of that. That was terrible. First half was fine and clean and all that; we moved the ball well and did a lot of good things, but that got in the way in the second half – and it was all the young guys (who) were on the field and they need to be poised and make good decisions and play good, clean football.”

Here’s what we’ll be watching, by position:

QUARTERBACK
Russell Wilson looked as good as usual in his one series against the Colts, and he will get more playing time this week, so we can see how the offense runs over at least a couple of series. Austin Davis was solid, other than his end zone interception, against Indy. We’ll see if he can finish a drive this time. And then we’ll see if rookie Alex McGough has improved at all after not leading his unit to any points vs. the Colts.

RUNNING BACK
This is all about Prosise trying to get back in the race. Maybe the coaches have never counted him out — despite him almost always being out — but Mike Davis and J.D. McKissic are much more valuable because they are both available and capable. Carroll said he wants Prosise to “play quite a bit in this game.”

WIDE RECEIVER
Amara Darboh’s chances of making the team continue to diminish — he won’t play due to the hip injury that also kept him out last week. So this game is a chance for David Moore to further lock himself into the fifth spot and for Marcus Johnson, Damore’ea Stringfellow and others to make a push for a potential sixth spot. With Tyler Lockett (toe) and Doug Baldwin (knee) out, Brandon Marshall could start and see a little action. “He doesn’t need to play a lot,” Carroll said, “but we need to get him out there.” As for Baldwin, Carroll said, “Next week will be really important to see how far along he comes. Really, the fourth week will be first chance we really get to work him really hard and press him, and then we’ll see how that goes in terms for that week and then heading into the opener.”

TIGHT END
Nick Vannett and Will Dissly played well in the opener, and Tyrone Swoopes flashed on a couple of plays, too. Swoopes needs to step it up some more if he is going to make the coaches consider him for the 53.

OFFENSIVE LINE
Let’s see this unit put together a couple of good drives, especially if Joey Bosa won’t be playing for the Chargers. Mike Solari has widely stuck with the same five guys all camp, something that has pleased Russell Wilson, but this group, especially Germain Ifedi, needs to show consistency across a full half. The unit probably will be somewhat shorthanded, with Jamarco Jones, J.R. Sweezy and Isaiah Battle still injured.

DEFENSIVE LINE
Frank Clark will make his preseason debut, and Nazair Jones should as well. Coming off a great debut, Rasheem Green will continue pushing for the other starting DE role. With Dion Jordan out and Smith now gone, Branden Jackson might be Green’s only competition for that spot. Poona Ford is trying to make it tough for the coaches to cut him, but would they really keep six tackles?

LINEBACKER
This is still all about rookies Shaquem Griffin and Jacob Martin showing their improvement and versatility. It also would be nice to see D.J. Alexander make a couple plays. Erik Walden just joined the team, so he won’t play in this one. But he will need to show a lot in the final two games to have a shot.

SECONDARY
With the safeties set, the only spot of contention is right corner. Byron Maxwell and Dontae Johnson both could play, although both would be limited as they come off injuries. That leaves more playing time for Tre Flowers, Akeem King and the other healthy corners. The only CB locks seem to be Shaquill Griffin, Justin Coleman and the promising Flowers; that leaves six guys for maybe three spots. At safety, Maurice Alexander is expected to play limited snaps. Because he has been out, Tedric Thompson has basically locked in the position opposite Bradley McDougald. Another safety to watch is Lorenzo Jerome, who played in four games for the 49ers last season. “He’s been a really bright player out here,” Carroll said. “He’s been physical, he’s understood the system, he’s got a really cool attitude about toughness and positioned himself to make a lot of plays.”

SPECIAL TEAMS
Sebastian Janikowski and Michael Dickson remain the favorites, but Jason Myers and Jon Ryan will get their chances. With Penny and Lockett out, others will get shots in the return game. McKissic was the main man on kick returns last week; will Prosise get some action here to show his versatility?

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