By Gregg Bell The News Tribune
SEATTLE — Terrelle Pryor, Robert Turbin and O’Brien Schofield stated convincing cases on the field.
Off it? They all deferred.
They are the Seattle Seahawks who are among those who have helped their roster status the most entering this week’s third exhibition game against Chicago. Yet they aren’t claiming anything.
And rightly so, since nothing is conclusive through two practice games.
Entering after quarterback Russell Wilson’s near-perfect first half Friday night against San Diego, Pryor ran for a 44-yard touchdown on a bootleg play. The former Oakland Raiders starter had a chance at an impressive third-down completion deep in San Diego territory on his other full drive in Seattle’s 41-14 victory, but tight end Cooper Helfet dropped his pass. Pryor showed better patience and downfield awareness of secondary receivers while scrambling than he did in the preseason opener at Denver.
The Seahawks’ second-and third-team offense has produced 16 points and 6.6 yards per play in the six full drives Pryor has led this month. He’s played far more than veteran Tarvaris Jackson, who did not appear in Friday’s game. Jackson has led just two drives — for three points — in two games.
But head coach Pete Carroll and offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell know what they have in the incumbent backup to Wilson.
They are trying to find out what they have in Pryor.
Carroll has kept two quarterbacks on his regular-season rosters in recent seasons. He’s preferred to use an extra spot on the 53-man team for backups elsewhere than on a No. 3 quarterback that will be inactive each game day.
“We were going to put Tarvaris in there,” Carroll said of Friday, when the Seahawks took a 24-0 lead by the middle of the second quarter because of Wilson’s mastery. “But then we thought the way the game was going we wanted to get B.J. (Daniels, the fourth QB on the roster) a chance if we could.
“So Tarvaris will go with the twos (this) week, and we’ll get a good dose of him playing football.”
Asked if he has a feel on how this is going to play out by the final NFL preseason cut-down date of Aug. 30, Pryor shrugged.
“No, I just go out and play ball every day. Have fun,” he said. “That’s out of my control.”
Helfet, a standout the previous week at Denver, dropped Pryor’s most telling pass in two games in Friday’s third quarter. On a third and 3, Pryor rolled left away from pressure and instead of running as he could have — and did in Denver — the quarterback did what Bevell had said he wanted to see more of. Pryor kept his eyes focused downfield on receivers during his scramble and found Helfet at the sidelines near the Chargers 20. The pass was on the tight end’s hands, then clanged off them. Instead of a possible touchdown drive, the Seahawks settled for Steven Hauschka’s 55-yard field goal and a 27-7 lead.
“Coach Carroll and Coach Bevell preached to me, ‘Hey, I want to see you when you get open running and you see someone on the sidelines, I want you to take that throw,’” Pryor said. “I missed two guys on that in Denver. I think that’s improvement in that.
“I’m just trying to do what the coaches want me to do.”
So what kind of impression does Pryor feel he’s made through two games of his new NFL life in Seattle?
“Honestly, I don’t know. You’ve got to ask those guys,” he said of his coaches. “I just know when I’m in there I’m going to make some plays and be a great teammate. That’s all I can really control. I don’t really know — and I can’t even think about — what they are thinking.
“I don’t know, I really don’t. I’m sorry. I just really like playing the game. I really don’t think too far into what the coaches think.”
Turbin had 80 yards rushing by early in the second quarter Friday. He got 47 of those on a sharp cut-back run from the Seattle 7 across midfield behind a crash-down block by rookie starting right tackle Justin Britt and a deft, peel-back block by tight end Zach Miller. Turbin finished that big play, which came moments after his 1-yard touchdown run, with a stiff arm that dragged San Diego’s Marcus Gilchrist 10 yards before they both fell to the turf.
“It was a hell of a play,” Carroll said.
The 5-foot-10, 222-pound, third-year back from Utah State with legs like the trunks of redwoods finished with 12 carries for 81 yards against San Diego. He appears to be in the best shape of his career. He had his knee “cleaned up,” in Carroll’s words, this offseason, and he looks stronger.
He’s sure running that way. Plus, his competitor for the No. 2 running-back job behind Marshawn Lynch, second-year man Christine Michael, fumbled Friday for the second time in an eight-carry span.
Yet Turbin isn’t claiming any ground in his roster battle, either.
“I just want to get better,” he said. “Whether I am getting four carries in one game (as he did in Denver) or a different amount the next game I just want to do my best to take advantage of all of that — and use all of that as a tool to get better.”
Schofield, acquired just before training camp last summer from Arizona, is in a tight competition with second-year defensive end Benson Mayowa for a situational pass-rushing job. Schofield consistently sped past Chargers blockers on inside, looping line stunts and straight bull rushes. He had a sack and four hits on San Diego quarterbacks Philip Rivers and Kellen Clemens, along with three tackles.
“He was all over the place,” a pleased Carroll said. “He’s competing his tail off to make this football team and make his mark here. … I’m really fired up for him.”
Yet Schofield is veteran enough after four other NFL seasons to realize the final evaluations on who gets what jobs this season with the defending Super Bowl champions are yet to come.
“I just came out and played as hard as I could, just showed my teammates that whatever game it is, anytime I’m out there I’m going to give 100-percent effort,” he said. “I love the game so much, it’s the least I can do.”
The Seahawks are taking Saturday and Sunday off. They return to practice Monday for Friday’s home exhibition against the Bears. Expect the starters to play into the second half this week. Coaches like to give leading players one practice experience of getting halftime adjustments and then applying them for at least one drive before exiting the third exhibition game. The fourth and final tune-up, Aug. 28 at Oakland, will likely be devoted almost exclusively to players fighting for roster spots.