Seahawks rookie cornerback Tre Brown (22) runs with wide receiver Penny Hart during a practice on July 29, 2021, in Renton. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Seahawks rookie cornerback Tre Brown (22) runs with wide receiver Penny Hart during a practice on July 29, 2021, in Renton. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Who to watch in the Seahawks’ preseason opener vs. the Raiders

Players locked in position battles will be looking to make a statement in Las Vegas.

  • Adam Jude, The Seattle Times
  • Friday, August 13, 2021 7:13pm
  • SportsSeahawks

By Adam Jude / The Seattle Times

RENTON — The NFL preseason, of course, is one time when the games are more about individuals than the team.

The Seattle Seahawks’ first preseason game since 2019 kicks off at 6 p.m. Saturday in Las Vegas against the Raiders — and if the game being in Sin City has you in a gambling mood, the Seahawks are 2.5-point underdogs.

But what matters more is how players perform, especially those at positions where Seattle has roster decisions to make. Or, simply, positions where Seattle is seeking more information to better inform decisions about the team.

Here are some players worth watching Saturday night:

CB Tre Flowers

The fourth-year vet has worked with the starting unit the past week at right cornerback with D.J. Reed out, continuing what coach Pete Carroll said has been his most consistent camp.

“This is the best he’s been,” Carroll said last week.

The Seahawks know a lot about Flowers, who has started 37 games the past three seasons. But they also brought in a lot of competition for the corner spots in the offseason and could save $2.1 million against the salary cap if he were released.

Flowers is trying to convince the team he deserves to stick around.

CB Tre Brown

Brown, a fourth-round draft pick, has looked increasingly comfortable and productive the past week and suddenly like he could be a factor this season.

Brown always figured to be pretty much a lock to make the team as at least a special-teamer.

But if he can make the team feel comfortable with him as a backup, that has implications for veterans such as Damarious Randall and Pierre Desir, and possibly Flowers with his contract situation (though Brown has played solely at left cornerback and Flowers has played on the right side).

LB/DE Darrell Taylor

This will be the first time Taylor has seen action in a game since his final year at Tennessee in 2019 — he missed last year because of lingering issues from leg surgery.

The Seahawks are committed to Taylor as a strongside linebacker/rush end hybrid, and a few preseason games won’t likely change their overall assessment of him.

Taylor has shown encouraging signs in camp — in part by being healthy — and Seattle would like to see that trend continue after going against another team in live action.

LT Stone Forsythe

The sixth-round pick from Florida has worked as the starting left tackle all week in practice during the absence of “hold-in” Duane Brown and with injuries to Jamarco Jones and Cedric Ogbuehi.

Forsythe has shown some flashes in practice, especially in pass protection. But the big question is how well he can perform in the run game and out of a three-point stance.

He figures to get ample opportunityagainst the Raiders and give the team lots of information about where he is in his development.

WRs Cody Thompson, Aaron Fuller, Travis Toivonen

The battles for spots in the back end of Seattle’s receiver rotation remain wide open, and the continued absence of rookie Dee Eskridge (who should come off the PUP list next week) and an injury to Penny Hart have given some other players lots of work in practice this week.

Thompson, a third-year player from Toledo, has been maybe the most impressive. If he does anything against the Raiders, he could begin to stake a claim to being ahead of the pack of free agents vying for roster spots.

Fuller, a former UW standout, figures to get some chances as a punt returner.

Toivonen, from North Dakota, stands 6-feet-4 and has made an increasing number of plays in recent days.

Also sure to get some snaps are Sumner High graduate Connor Wedington and Cade Johnson, a South Dakota State graduate who some pegged initially as having the best shot of the rookie UDFA receivers to make a run at a roster spot.

Practice matters, but the Seahawks also like to see how players perform under the lights.

QB Geno Smith

Smith has been solid in camp, and with 31 career starts he has the experience the team likes behind Wilson.

There has been little evidence that recently signed Sean Mannion is making any real run at the backup job, and most likely the team views him as a practice teamer.

But other than some mop-up duty last year against the Jets, Smith has not really played since the 2019 preseason. The Seahawks might want to see him turn in a few good preseason moments for assurance.

S Aashari Crosswell

The UDFA from Arizona State has shown an ability as a playmaker in camp, working usually at free safety.

And that playmaking has led to the idea that if there’s an off-the-radar UDFA who could make a run at a roster spot, it’s him.

Now to see if he can translate that to a game, while also fulfilling what Carroll values in a safety — being in the right position and not giving up big plays.

TE Cam Sutton

The big news Friday was some bad news — Colby Parkinson, in line to be the third tight end and have a significant role in the offense — is out a while because of a foot injury.

Seattle’s other tight ends behind Gerald Everett and Will Dissly are Cam Sutton, Dominick Wood-Anderson and Tyler Mabry, all initially undrafted free agents.

Mabry, though, is also dealing with a foot injury, which means Sutton and Wood-Anderson could get extended playing time.

The 6-6, 249-pound Sutton, who played at Fresno State, has had some decent moments in practice, including a touchdown in a team session Wednesday.

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