Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen (19) is tackled by Seahawks cornerback Justin Coleman (right) after making a reception during the first half of a preseason game on Aug. 24, 2018, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen (19) is tackled by Seahawks cornerback Justin Coleman (right) after making a reception during the first half of a preseason game on Aug. 24, 2018, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

3 games, 3 losses, 3 Seahawks takeaways

Seattle’s defense struggles early, but its wide receivers and kickers look ready for the season.

  • By Mike Vorel The Seattle Times
  • Saturday, August 25, 2018 7:22pm
  • SportsSeahawks

By Mike Vorel / The Seattle Times

Three games. Three losses.

The Seattle Seahawks fell to 0-3 in preseason play on Friday, leaving Minnesota with a gut-wrenching 21-20 loss to the Vikings. On fourth-and-15, Minnesota quarterback Kyle Sloter rolled out and found wide receiver Chad Beebe for a 25-yard touchdown with 1:38 remaining in the game. Sloter then found wide receiver Jake Wieneke for the go-ahead two-point conversion to give the Vikings the win.

Here are three impressions from the Seahawks’ third preseason game:

1. Another slow start defensively

The Seahawks’ defense struggled early.

Again. Just like last week against the Los Angeles Chargers, and the week before against the Indianapolis Colts.

This time, the Vikings ran a whopping 27 plays in their first two drives of Friday’s preseason game, capping the second one with a 1-yard Latavius Murray touchdown plunge early in the second quarter. Minnesota managed just six points, however, thanks to a Daniel Carlson missed a 42-yard field goal and a failed two-point conversion that Seattle linebacker Barkevious Mingo slapped to the turf.

Still, this is developing into a disturbing trend for the Seahawks. In the first quarter on Friday, the Vikings dominated time of possession, 13:33 to 1:27. They converted five of six third downs and amassed 141 total yards. Untimely missed tackles by free safety Tedric Thompson and Mingo further extended Viking drives.

But just like last week against the Chargers, the Seattle defense eventually settled down, pairing a forced punt with another missed field goal to close the first half.

Of course, we won’t see the Seahawks’ defensive starters in the preseason finale against Oakland. We’ll have to see if the trend continues in the opener against Denver on Sept. 9.

2. Wide receivers catching on

Brandon Marshall, David Moore, Marcus Johnson and Keenan Reynolds are all competing to make the Seahawks’ 53-man roster.

They helped their case on Friday.

Marshall — a 34-year-old veteran — made three catches for 34 yards on the Seahawks’ second offensive drive, the highlight being a 20-yard catch he snared over the outstretched arm of 6-1 Vikings cornerback Xavier Rhodes.

Moore, the team’s most consistent performer this preseason, caught a back-shoulder pass from Alex McGough along the sideline in the fourth quarter and scooted into the end zone for a 36-yard score. He also starred on special teams, returning a punt for a long touchdown (though the play was wiped out by a questionable penalty).

Johnson’s highlight came in the third quarter, when the 6-1, 204-pound wide receiver — who was acquired from the Philadelphia Eagles this offseason as part of the Michael Bennett trade — hauled in a deep ball from quarterback Russell Wilson over the shoulder along the sideline for a 34-yard gain.

Reynolds, who has received more reps in the slot this August in the wake of Doug Baldwin’s knee injury, added three catches (on four targets) for 25 yards while working with the starters.

Baldwin, Tyler Lockett and Jaron Brown are all locks to make the Seahawks’ roster. With two or three available spots remaining, Marshall, Moore, Johnson and Reynolds each made the most of their opportunities on Friday.

3. Seahawk specialists prove their worth

The Seahawks settled their kicker competitions this week.

And now we know why.

Placekicker Sebastian Janikowski — who beat out Jason Myers — connected on both of his field goals attempts, hitting from both 55 and 35 yards while also drilling a pair of extra points.

But the special teams star, again, was rookie punter Michael Dickson. The 2018 fifth-round pick — whose arrival led to the release of beloved veteran Jon Ryan — punted five times on Friday, averaging 53.6 yards per boot (and adding a potentially touchdown-saving tackle). The highlights were a 57-yard punt and a 56-yard punt that were each downed expertly at the Vikings’ 3-yard line.

It couldn’t have been easy for the Seahawks to part with Ryan, who had been an organization mainstay for the past 10 seasons. But Dickson’s talent is undeniable, and on Friday they turned him loose.

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