By John Boyle Herald Writer
That’s it. The preseason is now finished for the Seahawks, who lost 41-31 in Oakland Thursday night, so now we can all turn our focus to games that matter, starting with next week’s opener against Green Bay.
But before the 2014 preseason becomes a fuzzy, relatively insignificant memory, let’s look at what stood out in preseason game No. 4. As always the end result didn’t matter, but for roster hopefuls, it could have been a career-making, or ending, evening. Here are five takeaways from the game:
1. Russell Wilson is ready for the regular season
Seattle’s quarterback played only one possession, but Wilson made it look really easy while he was on the field, leading a quick four-play, 80-yard scoring drive. In all, Wilson completed 79 percent of his preseason passes, threw for three touchdowns and no interceptions in parts of four games, good for a 133.8 passer rating. The Seahawks scored on 11 of 13 possessions with Wilson on the field, nine of those being touchdowns.
2. Terrelle Pryor, however, remains a mystery
This was possibly Pryor’s make-or-break chance, but if the Seahawks were relying on this game to make a decision, they’re still probably having a tough time. It’s not that Pryor is terrible — that would make the decision easy — it’s that he makes such tantalizingly good plays, like the touchdown throw to Phil Bates or the big completion to Bryan Walters to end the third quarter; then he misses pretty simple throws. If the Seahawks are looking for consistency, Pryor might get cut in the next two days, but if it’s upside they want, he might just stick around.
3. Jon Ryan got to play!
After the Seahawks punted only once in the previous two preseason games, the running joke was that punter Jon Ryan was bored, or that he had the best job in football — getting paid to watch the game. But in reality there was a small downside to Seattle’s offensive dominance, mainly that the punt coverage team wasn’t getting the work in game situations it needs to prepare for the season. That showed a bit on Seattle’s first punt, in fact, when the Raiders popped a long return.
4. The backup cornerbacks had a very up-and-down night
With Jeremy Lane and Tharold Simon sitting out, the Seahawks got a long look at the cornerbacks battling for a roster spot, and initially nobody seemed to want to take advantage of that opportunity. Phillip Adams got beat a couple of times early, but then he made a nice play to tip a pass that was intercepted by DeShawn Shead. Adams also had a nice tackle on punt coverage and overall looked solid at corner after his early struggles. It was a similar mixed bag for Akeem Auguste.
And perhaps those occasional struggles explain why Shead, who has spent most of camp at safety, played extensively at cornerback, and looked pretty good doing so. Given his versatility, Shead, who scored on a 55-yard return of interception, seems a near certainty to make the team, but beyond that it’s anyone’s guess for the last spot at corner.
5. Bryan Walters bounced back very well from an early fumble
Walters is very much on the bubble, competing for one of the last receiver spots on the team, so when he fumbled a kick return in the first quarter, it appeared he may have cost himself a job. But from that moment on, Walters had a great game, both with a few nice returns, and also two big catches, one a long, diving grab from Pryor, and the other a 7-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter on a swing pass from B.J. Daniels. Given his ability as a punt and kick returner, Walters may have secured a spot on the 53-man roster even after giving the ball away early.
And as a bonus, a few other random observations … The Seahawks clearly wanted to get Russell Okung’s conditioning level up, because when all the rest of the starters were long gone, the left tackle stayed in for the entire first half. Okung, who is coming back from foot surgery, just made his preseason debut last week, and Carroll mentioned earlier in the week that he has catching up to do from a conditioning standpoint … DT Jordan Hill had a very nice spin move for a sack, a big play for a player who has had a quiet preseason … Rookie LB Kevin Pierre-Louis was impactful at times, though his interception was wiped out by a penalty.
Herald Writer John Boyle: firstname.lastname@example.org.