Sometimes a taste of honey is worse than none at all. The arrival of the preseason brings mixed emotions for many football fans. The excitement of seeing their favorite players in uniform for the first time is tempered by the realization that the games don’t really count.
Preseason May Offer Clues To Seattle Seahawks Championship Quest
The final score of these preseason contests is basically irrelevant in determining the likelihood of success in the upcoming season. Still, these scrimmages can provide a glimpse into what is in store when the games really matter. Here are some areas where fans can hope to gain valuable insights into the Seattle Seahawks progress.
Have Star Players Fully Recovered From Injury?
Late season, injuries to several key players plagued Seattle. Strong safety Earl Thomas suffered a lower leg fracture, and even contemplated retirement. Wide receiver Tyler Lockett also suffered a broken leg. Fortunately, the outlook for both these players is favorable. They appear to operate at full strength in training camp. Preseason games will allow fans to see for themselves whether these injuries will adversely affect their performance.
The team is also monitoring several minor injuries to prevent more serious complications. Strong safety Kam Chancellor, who recently renewed a three-year contract with the team, underwent surgery to address persistent ankle issues that caused him to miss the first half of last season. The Seahawks will likely place cornerback DeShawn Shead on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list to begin the season. This move requires a player to sit out at least six games, but he should be ready to play in time for the second half of the season.
Defensive end Malik McDowell, the Seahawks first selection in this year’s draft, suffered a concussion after a crash on an all terrain vehicle. His status is completely unknown. Head coach Pete Carroll said further evaluation is necessary, and could not rule out the possibility he could miss the entire season. Should McDowell make an appearance in the preseason, it may indicate the situation is less serious than feared.
Will Rookies Make The Adjustment To The Professional Level?
With McDowell’s availability in doubt, the Seahawks still have many promising rookies trying to make a good first impression. The primary goal of most veteran players during the preseason is avoiding injury. Rookies, on the other hand, often exert maximum effort trying to win a starting job, and avoid being cut or relegated to the practice squad.
Among the most impressive rookies in training camp this year is running back Chris Carson, selected by the Seahawks in the seventh round with their final draft pick. Carson has delivered several breakthrough runs in practice, and will try to showcase his skills during preseason games.
Another player to watch is offensive lineman Ethan Pocic, the Seahawks second overall selection in the draft. Pocic played center at Louisiana State, but is known for his versatility. He will compete for a starting job alongside several offensive linemen who struggled last year.
Also notable are the many defensive backs, including cornerback Shaquill Griffin, strong safety Delano Hill and free safety Tedric Thompson, who were selected in the third and fourth rounds. Carroll is optimistic they are starting level cornerbacks and safeties in this league. Whether they will one day be able to replace the Hall of Fame caliber players who comprise the Legion of Boom is a different matter.
Will Veterans Continue To Perform To High Standards?
Many critics claim the Seattle Seahawks opportunity to win another championship is rapidly disappearing. Veteran players only have a short time left before their abilities begin to fade, or so they say. These claims are premature. The Seahawks star players will be healthier and more experienced, rather than older, slower and weaker. The longevity of many stars around the league demonstrates players can function at a high level for a long time. This preseason, veteran defensive backs like Chancellor and cornerback Richard Sherman will be eager to show they still have what it takes to excel in this league.
Has The Offensive Line Improved Significantly Since Last Season?
Carroll is optimistic the offensive line is better heading into 2017. According to Carroll, the addition of offensive linemen Luke Joeckel and Oday Aboushi, combined with improved play from last year’s starters like tackle George Fant and guard Mark Glowinski, will be sufficient to repair the line’s problems. Time will tell if this patchwork approach will be successful.
How Will The Offense Manage Its Many Options At Running Back?
Quarterback controversies are a relatively common phenomenon in the league, but the Seahawks may have a legitimate running back controversy on their hands. Both Thomas Rawls and C.J. Prosise have both shown sparks of brilliance. With the addition of tailback Eddie Lacy and the emergence of rookie running back Carson, the Hawks have no less than four promising possibilities at this key position. Carroll has stated he intends to run the ball more this season. The preseason should offer some clues as to who will be the starter. With so many options at this position, it would be unfortunate to waste all this talent by sitting the other runners on the bench. The Seahawks may use the preseason as an opportunity to experiment with different ways of incorporating their rushers into the game. Reserving certain rushers primarily as third down backs may help. Using the running backs like wide receivers to catch passes, or like tight ends to help block, are also among the possibilities.
Preseason football can be frustrating for many fans eager to cheer on their team in real game situations. Hopefully these exhibition games will provide encouragement to Hawks fans hoping for improvement on offense and resilience on defense. In any case, fans can take comfort in the knowledge that opening kickoff is coming soon.