Russell Wilson led the No. 1 offense to four touchdowns on four drives — all coming on his own passes — as the starters predictably dominated.
The Seahawks held their annual mock game Saturday with the starting offense and defense paired against the backups.
The score was as you might expect, a 28-7 victory for the starters, with Russell Wilson leading four touchdown drives on four series — all ending in Wilson touchdown passes. One came on the first play of the drive, a 65-yard pass to Chris Carson. It was the latest illustration Seattle indeed plans to pass the ball more to its running backs this season under new offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer.
“It’s always a big asset when you have the versatility and you can do things with your (tailbacks),” said coach Pete Carroll.
As for the starting defense, it was the starters “with an asterisk’’ as safety Bradley McDougald put it.
The defense played while at least six potential starters were sidelined with injuries — defensive ends Frank Clark and Dion Jordan, defensive tackle Tom Johnson, linebacker K.J. Wright, safety Maurice Alexander and cornerback Shaquill Griffin — while middle linebacker Bobby Wagner played only the first half.
So, a last-play touchdown by the second offense came against what was largely the second-team defense, by that point.
Here are a few quick thoughts on what stood out for every position group:
Wilson did as you might expect going against backups, completing 16 of 19 passes. His best pass might have been a 30-yard touchdown to Brandon Marshall, who was tightly covered by rookie Tre Flowers. “The throw was perfect and the catch was perfect,’’ Carroll said.
The first touchdown to Carson came on what Carroll said was busted coverage by the defense sniffed perfectly by Wilson.
“Russ has a really good sense of the entire field,’’ Carroll said.
The bigger issue at quarterback is the backup. A day after Carroll said he was struggling, rookie Alex McGough rebounded to go 6-for-9 on two drives, one of which he ended with a 28-yard touchdown to Malik Turner. His other drive ended on an interception that went off the hands of C.J. Prosise near the end zone, picked off by McDougald (who said he thought Wagner first tipped it).
“He made some nice plays today,’’ Carroll said of McGough, who was greeted enthusiastically by quarterback coach Dave Canales after the game.
Veteran Austin Davis, the backup a year ago, was 2 for 5 on two drives that ended in a punt and on downs.
Carson was the starter with the No. 1 offense and his first-play touchdown was about all anyone needed to see to know why he’s where he is.
But rookie Rashaad Penny turned in maybe his best play of camp with a run around the end in the second half that he turned into a 57-yard gain (the play came with the second-team offense against the starters, though with neither of starting linebackers Wagner or Wright on the field).
“Loved it,’’ Carroll said of Penny’s burst on the play, noting that he weighed in at 236 pounds this week.
J.D. McKissic caught three passes and Mike Davis had one, each showing well for themselves.
Prosise, meanwhile, not only had the pass go off his hands for an interception — Carroll said “C.J. can make that catch. Makes it all the time’’ — but also had another pass for a likely touchdown go off his hands, as well.
Not only did Shaquill Griffin (hamstring) sit out but so did Trovon Reed and Neiko Thorpe (wrist), all injuries thought minor but which left the cornerback spot pretty depleted (with veteran Dontae Johnson having been out all camp but cleared this weekend to return to practice soon). So the receivers probably should have had good days. Two stood out — Jaron Brown and Marshall. Brown had six catches on six targets including a 43-yarder; and Marshall, who had just the one catch but showed again he has the ability to be a big red-zone target the team sorely needs.
“He still has it,’’ Wilson said of the 34-year-old Marshall. Marshall was held to about a dozen snaps, though, as the team continues to ease him back in. But assuming he can increase his playing time without any injury setbacks he seems to be close to a lock to make the roster. “I think he has made a great first impression,” Carroll said.
Keenan Reynolds had the other touchdown on a 7-yarder from Wilson. Reynolds might still be a long shot to make the roster but he’s made a lot of plays.
One negative? Second-year receiver Amara Darboh, coming off a couple of strong days in practice, was held out due to a minor injury.
There was one obvious standout here — former Washington Husky Will Dissly. With projected starter Ed Dickson remaining out, Dissly got a lot of work with the first-team offense and took advantage. Late in the first half, he caught a short pass on third down to keep the drive alive and then a 15-yarder to set up the Wilson-Reynolds touchdown on the next play.
Said Wilson later: “He’s been, in my opinion, one of the stars of camp. He keeps showing up.’’
That the No. 1 offense scored touchdowns every time it had the ball meant something must have been going OK up front.
But what stood out were two negatives — an injury during the prepractice period to center Justin Britt and two penalties by Germain Ifedi that got him benched. Carroll said Britt “tweaked’’ his back, which resulted in Joey Hunt starting as the center with the starting offense and with the team later using Ethan Pocic there, an alignment in which Rees Odhiambo slid into the starting lineup at left guard.
Ifedi, meanwhile, had a false start and then a hold on the same drive and was taken out in the middle of it, replaced by Isaiah Battle.
“Was real disappointed in that,’’ Carroll said of Ifedi’s penalties. “Real disappointed in that.’’
The Seahawks have said George Fant will start out at left tackle as he makes his return from an ACL injury last year. But should Ifedi continue to struggle the team will undoubtedly consider all options.
Also worth noting newly re-signed J.R. Sweezy didn’t play, the team apparently also easing him back after he joined the team Thursday.
The absences of Clark, Jordan and Marcus Smith meant Branden Jackson and Quinton Jefferson were typically the ends with the starters. Carroll said he liked what he saw, saying, “Those guys are playing the best that we’ve seen.’’ Jefferson had one of the two sacks on the day (Shamar Stephen the other). Still, the Seahawks appear to be exploring options to bring in more edge players with the NFL Network reporting Saturday Seattle is bringing in Damontre Moore — who was with the team for a time in 2016 — and Lamarr Houston for visits.
One young player who stood out? Undrafted rookie free agent Poona Ford of Texas. On one play, Ford moved quickly to help make the tackle on a pass in the flat to McKissic.
“He’s really active,’’ Carroll said.
Wright sat out with what Carroll said was a minor groin issue that crept up late Friday. That had Shaquem Griffin working with the starting defense. Carroll said he’d need to review the film to make a real assessment of Griffin’s play. D.J. Alexander also was out with an injury, so the second-team linebackers were Austin Calitro and Emmanuel Beal inside and Jacob Martin at SLB behind Barkevious Mingo.
Due to all the injuries and one notable holdout (Earl Thomas’ potential fines are now in the $700,000 range as he missed his eighth practice Saturday) the starting secondary featured Byron Maxwell and Akeem King at cornerback with McDougald and Tedric Thompson at safety.
The second-teamers featured Flowers and recently signed Jeremy Boykins at corner and Delano Hill and T.J. Mutcherson at safety.
Flowers had the unenviable assignment of taking on Marshall in man coverage on a go route that resulted in a touchdown. Carroll said he didn’t think there was much more Flowers could have done, saying, “I thought he was all over him.’’
McDougald had the tipped interception in the most notable play for the starting secondary.
There were no live punts or returns. But in the early punting drills Michael Dickson was hard not to notice (it was likewise interesting seeing Shaquem Griffin working as an upback on punts, a potentially critical special-teams role he is being considered for. Holdover Tanner McEvoy also got some work there). Punt returners included Tyler Lockett, Penny, Cyril Grayson and Reynolds.
The field-goal kickers have remained solid — Sebastian Janikowski was 3 for 3 and Jason Myers 2 for 2 on point after touchdowns.