By Eric D. Williams The News Tribune
DENVER — For a second straight year, safety Jeron Johnson put his best foot forward in his ongoing battle to stay on the Seattle Seahawks’ roster.
The Boise State University product created some big plays to make Seattle’s coaching staff take notice on Saturday.
Johnson earned significant time with the starting defensive unit, playing in place of safety Kam Chancellor at times in the first half.
And Johnson made the most of it, grabbing one of the two interceptions thrown by Peyton Manning. Johnson also stuffed Denver running back Lance Ball behind the line of scrimmage and stripped him of the ball, with linebacker Leroy Hill recovering the fumble.
“That’s huge for two turnovers by a kid,” Seattle head coach Pete Carroll said. “But all along he’s really improved from last year. And he’s playing some good ball for us. It’s exciting to see him in there.”
Johnson is in a battle with Chris Maragos and rookie sixth-round draft choice Winston Guy for a reserve spot on the roster behind starting safeties Chancellor and Earl Thomas.
An undrafted rookie free agent picked up by Seattle last season, Johnson was in the same spot in 2011, competing with fifth-round draft choice Mark LeGree for a spot on the roster.
But Johnson ended up making the roster instead of LeGree by making big plays during the preseason last year, including a forced fumble on a punt return.
“I’m just trying to capitalize on my opportunities,” Johnson said. “Special teams, defense — wherever it may be. I want to do the best I can and make plays for the team.
Johnson played in seven games as a rookie, finishing with four special teams tackles.
Penalties a problem again
Ugly penalties returned again for the Seahawks.
Offensive tackle Breno Giacomini drew a personal foul penalty when he head-butted a Denver defensive player on Steven Hauschka’s 43-yard field goal. Giacomini also was called for a holding penalty.
And offensive guard Deuce Lutui was called for a personal foul after a late hit on the opening drive of the second half. Lutui was taken out by Carroll after the play.
Seattle finished with seven penalties for 75 yards.
“I want our guys to feel how clear it is that we have to play penalty free,” Carroll said. “That’s the kind of team this is. We have to play penalty free to play like we want to play.”
The Seahawks were one of the most penalized teams in the league last year. Seattle averaged 8.6 penalties a game in 2011, the second-most in the league.
Punter Jon Ryan had a punt blocked and deflected by Denver safety David Bruton in the first half. The first block occurred on Seattle’s opening possession of the game, and the Broncos recovered on Seattle’s 24-yard line. However, K.J. Wright’s interception kept the Broncos out of the end zone. Bruton again got a hand on the ball in the second quarter, but Ryan managed to get enough on the ball to boot it 52 yards. … Defensive end Dexter Davis appeared to re-aggravate a nagging hip injury midway through the third quarter, but returned to the game. … Denver receiver Andre Caldwell suffered a chest injury in the fourth quarter after a big hit from Maragos and did not return. … Former Seattle receiver Brandon Stokley finished with three catches for 41 yards for the Broncos. … Players who did not play on Saturday for Seattle included quarterback Tarvaris Jackson, receiver Sidney Rice, running back Michael Robinson, cornerback Walter Thurmond, cornerback Ron Parker, defensive end Cordarro Law, linebacker Michael Morgan, linebacker Matt McCoy, linebacker Malcolm Smith, offensive lineman John Moffitt, offensive lineman James Carpenter, tight end Zach Miller, receiver Ben Obomanu and receiver Doug Baldwin.