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John Boyle | jboyle@heraldnet.com
Published: Thursday, August 11, 2011, 8:20 p.m.

A few observations from the Seahawks' preseason opener

Obviously the most important part of the game didn’t involve the result, but rather the fact that LT Russell Okung limped off the field and was eventually carted to the locker room with an ankle injury. Word on the TV broadcast was that X-rays were negative, and it’s possible the injury wasn’t serious and that Okung only came out as a precaution, but it is still unsettling for the Seahawks to see Okung of all people leaving with an ankle injury. Last season, the first-round pick missed six games because of a pair of high-ankle sprains, so any ankle injury this preseason is a concern for the Seahawks.

But even if it didn’t count, a game did happen, so what can was noteworthy in Seattle’s 24-17 victory over the Chargers? Well here are a few things that stood out, though before dissecting the game, repeat after me: it was only a preseason game, it was only a preseason game, it was only a preseason game. A good chunk of the players who saw the most action Thursday won’t be on the roster for either team come Sept., and many of the top players for both teams didn’t play, including receivers Sidney Rice and Mike Williams for Seattle. So no matter how exciting it was to see NFL football again, remember both teams are a long ways from where they need to be when the season opens in a month.

--Tarvaris Jackson didn’t do much to stand out in his first appearance as Seattle’s starting quarterback, but it’s worth noting that he was throwing to a receiving corps missing its best two players, Williams and Rice. Jackson did make a few plays with his legs, which will be a nice weapon for Seattle’s offense this season, because for all the things Matt Hasselbeck did well, running wasn’t necessarily one of them. Overall the offense was less than impressive until the late going when it was a battle between both teams’ reserves.

--Speaking of quarterbacks, Charlie Whitehurst looked solid, though unspectacular playing most of the second and third quarters. Undrafted rookie Josh Portis finished the game, and after a shaky start, he came back and led an impressive scoring drive that he capped with a scramble and throw across his body to Anthony McCoy for a touchdown. Portis is still raw, but it’s very clear why the Seahawks are excited about the former Division-II star.

--Not surprisingly, Seattle’s coaching staff left rookies James Carpenter and John Moffitt in on the line far longer than the rest of the first team, no doubt to get them extra reps. Moffitt was impressive at times in run blocking, particularly opening a hole for Leon Washington’s touchdown run.

--And speaking of Washington, he saw a lot of action, which is a good sign considering he couldn’t even practice at this time last season. If Thursday was any sort of indication, expect to see Washington have a lot more of a role in the offense this year.

--DE Jimmy Wilkerson, one of the Seahawks less-heralded free agent signings, had a sack and was disruptive in the backfield a couple of times.

--CB Brandon Browner was impressive at cornerback with the No. 2 defense, coming up with a couple of pass breakups in one-on-one coverage, including one that prevented a TD late in the second quarter. Browner, who stands an impressive 6-foot-4, has been a star in the CFL for the past five seasons and is hoping to break into the NFL.

--While Seattle did give up a touchdown on a kick return, overall it was apparent that the new kickoff rule will lead to a lot more touchbacks. That being said, Brandon Coutu didn’t seem to have the leg, even from the 35, to put the ball in the end zone.

--Undrafted rookie receiver Doug Baldwin saw a ton of playing time and helped himself with a team-high four catches.

--S Kam Chancellor was very impressive in run defense. He didn’t get tested a ton in the passing game.

--DE Pierre Allen, another undrafted rookie who has enjoyed a strong training camp, had the sack and forced fumble that set up the winning touchdown.

--When Seattle’s top defense was on the field, we saw something that looked familiar last season: a defense that looks very stout against the run, and very suspect against the pass. Now it is worth noting that Phillip Rivers to Vincent Jackson is one of the toughest combos the Seahawks will face all year, and that Kelly Jennings was in the starting lineup, which likely won’t be the case once Walter Thurmond gets healthy.

All for now.


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