A pretty good night by Russell Wilson and Co. was overshadowed by more injuries that cut further into the Seahawks’ depth — with the top three rookies now sidelined.
Second-rounder Marquise Blair was carted off late in the 25-19 loss to Minnesota, back spasms landing him on the injured list alongside first-rounder L.J. Collier, who has been out nearly all summer, and second-rounder D.K. Metcalf, who did not play Sunday night due to a knee injury that will require surgery Tuesday.
The Seahawks also lost Paxton Lynch to a vicious head hit and lineman Demetrius Knox, who became the fifth Seattle O-lineman to be injured this preseason when he was carted off with a quadriceps injury that Pete Carroll called “nasty.”
While the injuries and the play by the reserves made it seem like a pretty poor game by the Hawks, the fact is the top offense looked pretty good against the Vikings’ strong defense in the first action for Wilson and Co.
Wilson hit 6 of 8 passes, including a couple for 52 yards to Jaron Brown, who does indeed look like he will be a big part of the offense this time.
“It felt good to finally get out there,” Brown told Q13 FOX. “It’s all building a rapport with Russ. … When you’ve got a guy like Russ, he’s going to find you.”
As Carroll told 710 ESPN earlier this offseason, “I thought Jaron Brown did a fantastic job for us last year in an underused role. We need to use him more, because he’s a guy we can lean on. He’s got all of the stuff. He played really well for us. It’s just the ball didn’t go to him last year. It’s going to more so this year. He’ll be a bigger factor right off the bat.”
Penalties and a drop by Brown shorted the starters’ two drives, but the unit looks almost ready to roll — and still has all of its key starters healthy.
“I thought the first unit did a nice job,” Carroll said. “I thought Russ was moving the club pretty well. We missed a couple of third-down throws that would have made a difference in their outing, but they did move the ball well.”
The defense played OK, with the exception of some apparent blunders by rookies, some big pass plays against the starting corners and the fully expected lack of four-man pressure.
Poona Ford and Al Woods spearheaded a solid run defense, DeShawn Shead scored on an 88-yard pick-six and Ken Norton Jr. continued to play around with various blitzes, knowing this team has no standard rush.
Ford dominated the Vikings’ blockers, including forcing a fumble that was recovered by Mychal Kendricks but blown dead by the refs a bit too quickly, leaving Minnesota with the ball. Ford and Woods led a run defense that held the Vikings to 25 yards on eight carries in the 1s vs. 1s drives.
Shead was in the dime package with the No. 1 defense and took over for Bradley McDougald. It’s hard to say whether he really helped himself though as he tries to make the team after a year away. He had the big TD play, a week after his blitz safety against Denver, but he also gave up a big pass to Irv Smith Jr. and missed a tackle in the open field on a 45-yard gain.
The defensive backs had a tough night overall. Shaquill Griffin gave up a big pass to Adam Thielen (Carroll lost a challenge claiming offensive pass interference). On the next play, Tre Flowers was in position on Thielen but pulled the receiver’s arm as he knocked away the pass, setting up the Vikings at the 6-yard line (Seattle held them to a field goal). Seattle’s defensive backs need to take lessons from Harrison Smith, Minnesota’s Pro Bowl safety who made a perfect play to knock away Wilson’s deep pass to Tyler Lockett.
After using safeties to blitz a lot in the first game, Norton turned to his linebackers in this one. Kendricks and Cody Barton both were in on several blitzes. One by Barton came on the goal line and opened up the middle for Smith to score — Blair seemed like he might have been slightly out of position, and he and Barton were seen discussing the mistake afterward.
Barton also was out of position on a 22-yard run by Minnesota earlier in the game. “We’ve got to continue working on holding the edge on defense,” Shead told Q13 FOX. Of course, those kinds of gaffes won’t happen with Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright in the lineup.
Basically, this game showed that young players still have a lot of learning to do — but the offense looks capable of bailing them out if it can avoid big mistakes.
Fortunately, the Hawks are missing just one offensive starter (Mike Iupati) for now. It sounds like Metcalf could miss the opener; Carroll expects to know the prognosis for the rookie and sixth lineman George Fant this week.
The Seahawks can’t really miss guys they never had, but it’s too bad they probably won’t get any help from Collier or Metcalf early in the season.
Blair still had a long way to go to challenge Tedric Thompson for a starting spot, Carroll said last week. Now we’ll wait and see how much the back injury sets him back and how long the top three rookies remain out.