By John Boyle Herald Writer
SEATTLE — Ah yes, preseason game No. 4, the most boring of the preseason games. It’s a night for starters to make a brief cameo, for roster hopefuls to try to make a final impression before cut day and for Pete Carroll and his players to pal around with a hip-hop legend.
Yes, Snoop Dogg, who had a show nearby later in the night, was on the sideline in a Marshawn Lynch jersey before Thursday’s game, which the Seahawks won 22-6 over the hapless Oakland Raiders. And no, Snoop’s appearance had nothing to do with the game, other than perhaps to serve as another reminder that the Seahawks are a popular team these days. But his quick hug with Jon Ryan did bring up an important question: is there a better premise for a buddy-cop movie than “Snoop and the Canadian punter?” No, there isn’t.
Did we already mention that the fourth preseason game is a little hard to get into?
Anyway, result of the game may not have meant much, other than that it was Seattle’s ninth consecutive preseason victory (pop the bubbly). However, there was plenty at stake for a lot of people involved. So let’s look at who made good and bad impressions Thursday night.
— Bruce Irvin appears to be adjusting very well to the move to linebacker. He made a few nice plays in space, none better than when he chased down speedy Raiders quarterback Terrelle Pryor in the open field for a sack after initially pursuing a running back off the play fake. Of course the unfortunate thing for Irvin and the Seahawks is that this was his last game action for a while, as he now must serve a four-game suspension for violating the league’s policy on performance enhancing drugs. Even so, it’s encouraging for the team in the long run that Irvin, a natural pass rusher, is showing this versatility.
Carroll noted that it was hardly a perfect game for Irvin, but there were flashes of why the Seahawks are excited about his return after the suspension.
“He didn’t play great tonight, he had some problems early in the game,” Carroll said. “I think he was over-trying. He wanted to try to get a lot more out of it than was there, but he played real hard and made some plays, made some good plays, and showed us why he’s a special football player.”
— Rookie tight end Luke Willson was in no danger of being cut before this game, but his four catches for 45 yards, all of which came early in the first half, showed that he just might be a big part of the passing game.
— Stephen Williams, who left the game with a concussion, will be on this team unless that injury is one the Seahawks fear will have long-term ramifications. Williams was injured making yet another contested catch on a deep ball, this one going for 50 yards to set up an eventual touchdown on the Seahawks’ only drive with the starters on the field. Williams finished his preseason with 7 catches for 236 yards and 4 touchdowns.
Carroll talked about hoping Williams will be able to make it back with 10 days between games, a pretty darn good indicator that Williams is making this roster.
— While Williams only strengthened his case to make the team, fourth-round pick Chris Harper, who has not had a great preseason, may have lost any chance at making the 53-man roster. Williams made exactly the type of strong-handed, contested catch the Seahawks want to see from a big-bodied receiver, but he followed that with two pretty bad drops, including one in the end zone. Another roster hopeful, Bryan Walters, made the type of catch in traffic that the Seahawks were hoping to get out of Harper this preseason but rarely did.
“It’s unfortunate,” Carroll said. “Chris got way behind him, it was one of those balls you’re waiting forever on. It wasn’t a great hookup. Unfortunately he didn’t catch it. I know he’s really frustrated that second ball got away from him as well. He’s been a good solid competitor, he’s been tough and physical. You saw him make the good catch where he got pounded in the back—because he’s 235 pounds, he’s hard to knock around. He’s done a good job of competing for us.”
— Walter Thurmond not only continues to impress as a cornerback — that one-handed catch down the sideline was a play few receivers could make, let alone defensive backs — he also looks like a legitimate option for the Seahawks at punt returner if they don’t want starting receiver Golden Tate taking those extra hits.
Getting through a productive and healthy preseason is no small feat for Thurmond, who has battled injuries dating back to his senior year at Oregon.
“It’s been very fun,” Thurmond said. “This has been my first full training camp since I’ve been in the league. I’m thankful for the opportunity just to show the coaches that I’m healthy. I think I’ve taken the most reps of anybody in training camp, so I think that gave them the idea I can take that work load and be able to perform.”
— The second-team offensive line has some work to do still. Not only was there little push in the running game, Tarvaris Jackson was frequently scrambling like he often had to do back in 2011.
“Some of the young guys had some problems tonight,” said Carroll, whose team averaged just 1.7 yards per carry. “We didn’t run the ball at all tonight. We had a tough time with these guys. The first group didn’t get much of a chance, but we didn’t run the ball well with the other group like we have been.”
— Safety Winston Guy had his work cut out for him to make the team, and he helped himself with some impressive play in the second half. On the flip side, however, he committed about as egregious a block in the back as you’ll ever see on special teams. Coaches don’t like seeing that, and they especially don’t like it a week after talking about how much they want to cut down on penalties.
— Speaking of penalties, the Seahawks were marginally better, but Carroll still won’t be thrilled to see his team commit eight penalties for 65 yards.
“It was way better tonight,” Carroll said. “There was a point in there where we hadn’t had one for a long time, and I didn’t want to put the jinx on anybody by saying it — like a no hitter — so it was a big step in a positive direction.”
— Jermaine Kearse didn’t need to do anything tonight to make the team — he was already going to — nonetheless, that third-quarter leaping grab down the sideline was a thing of beauty.
— Steven Hauschka is putting to rest any concerns about his leg strength. A year after making just one of four attempts from 50-plus, a 52-yarder, Hauschka made all five field goal attempts, including kicks of 56, 53, and 51 yards.
“He had a great night,” Carroll said. “… He had a fantastic night kicking the football. He seems to (have a stronger leg) and I think his confidence going after the 50-plus yarder is definitely there. I don’t think it could be any better for him.”
— Defensive tackle Jaye Howard, who could be needed with several injuries taking their toll on the interior line, was in the Raiders backfield quite frequently, even if he didn’t put up big numbers on the stat sheet. Howard showed promise in the preseason last year too, only to have virtually no impact in the regular season, but with Brandon Mebane, Jordan Hill and Tony McDaniel all battling injuries, Howard could be an important part of the rotation in next week’s opener.
“He’s right in the middle of it all,” Carroll said. “He’s played well enough that he’s a big concern to figure out where he fits and what positions he can play. He does have some flexibility, he plays three and five-technique for us, and he can rush a little bit in nickel. He’s had a solid attempt to try to make himself a spot on this team.”
Herald Writer John Boyle: firstname.lastname@example.org.