Post-game observations include items on Germain Ifedi, Earl Thomas, the receiving position and more.
Here are some thoughts on the Seahawks’ 27-17 preseason win over Dallas Thursday night from beat reporters Jayson Jenks and Bob Condotta.
First, three from Jenks:
1. Earl Thomas still flies to the ball.
Thomas has been so consistent and so explosive with the Seahawks it’s easy to take him for granted. But he had another play that showed again, in some small way, why he is one of the best safeties in the game. The Cowboys ran a screen, and Thomas came flying from his post in the middle of the field to hold Dallas to no gain.
The combination of his ability to recognize a play as it unfolds, to react to what he sees quickly and to finish the play with his speed and tackling ability — that’s rare.
It’s funny, going into the 2013 season, Thomas still had the reputation as being a shoddy tackler. That’s long since not been an issue.
2. The final receiver spots are still wide open.
The four spots are pretty locked up: Doug Baldwin, Jermaine Kearse, Tyler Lockett and Paul Richardson. But the fifth, and possibly sixth, spots on the roster are wide open.
Kasen Williams and Kevin Smith should be the favorites considering each of them played for the Seahawks last year. But both have been slowed by injuries, limiting their time on the practice field and in games (Smith made his preseason debut Thursday but did not have a pass thrown his way).
It’s also worth remembering: special teams ability means a great deal for the final receivers on the roster. That’s probably true of all receivers on the roster, but especially the guys near the bottom of the rotation. They have to be reliable contributors on special teams to justify their spot on the roster.
There was some thought among Seahawks players entering training camp that the receiver position was the deepest position group on the team. That may very well be the case, but it’s led to a cloudy battle for the final spot or two on the roster.
3. Tony McDaniel has jumped right back in.
McDaniel had probably the strangest path to the starting lineup on Thursday. Just a couple weeks ago, McDaniel was hiking and kayaking in Leavenworth when his agent saw a snapchat and asked the Seahawks if McDaniel could come in for a tryout, you know, since he was in the area anyway.
That led the Seahawks to sign McDaniel, which led to McDaniel starting Thursday’s preseason game at defensive tackle with Jordan Hill just returning from an injury this week and with Jarran Reed out with an injury.
I’d still expect the run-stuffing Reed to start at defensive tackle when the season starts, as long as he’s healthy. But McDaniel looks like he should be a solid rotation player and depth guy along the defensive line.
For a guy who was looking for a job earlier this month, that’s not a bad trajectory.
And three from Condotta:
1. Germain Ifedi knows how to play with a scrambling quarterback — but he needs to hold down on the holds.
Russell Wilson’s scrambles to turn nothing into something spectacular — notably, the touchdown pass to Lockett — were one of the highlights of the game. The plays also showed what already seems to be a growing comfort level between the line and Wilson despite the youth and newness up front. But one of the young players up front — rookie guard Germain Ifedi — was quick to remind reporters that he’s done this before.
“I played with Johnny Manziel for a couple of years (at Texas A&M),’’ he said. “So I am used to the quarterback running around. It’s nothing new to me especially when I was playing guard in college is when I was playing with him. So it’s nothing new to me. You are used to it after a while and I thought we did a good job of continuing to block and setting up the touchdown.’’
Ifedi, though, also got his second hold in three games. Like the first one at Kansas City, Ifedi thought this one — which came on the first series and helped force a punt — was easily preventable.
“I got tripped up and took the guy down with me I guess,’’ he said. “But you can’t hold. We got backed up again and had to punt and you can’t do that.’’
2. Paul Richardson looks ready to be a factor this season.
Richardson has shown signs throughout training camp and the preseason that he is healthy and ready for a breakout year in his third season in the NFL. But Thursday night marked the clearest evidence of that yet as he scored Seattle’s first touchdown in the second quarter on a 9-yard TD pass from Wilson in which he beat five-year vet and former first-round pick Morris Claiborne on a crossing route to get open.
Richardson missed all but one half of one game last year due to injuries but has been healthy since the spring and the team had broken him in gradually in the preseason before letting him loose against Dallas.
“I think the coaching staff has been doing a great job of slowly working me in and just gaining the trust back from my teammates. I just want them to see me in practice, making plays and seeing that I can do those things that I was brought here to do,” he said.
Richardson also is being used on special teams, but not as a returner as he was in 2014 but now as a gunner on punt teams, to name one role.
“Special teams is actually really fun,” he said. “You get tired but it’s fun. You really find out what type of man you are when you’re running down on special teams. Either you’re going to cave in or you’re going to rise to the occasion.”
Said Carroll of Richardson: “He’s had really good progress all the way throughout. He had his best week in preparation, he caught some big balls in practice. He came out and played like it. It was a great catch for the touchdown, a great throw and catch. Just really nice execution. Great to see him part of the group. All the guys continue to show well, they’re doing their stuff like we’re counting on. We are seeing a lot of things we can count on, as we’re seeing it in practice, and that’s a good sign.”
3. Jon Ryan and Steven Hauschka are just frickin’ booming it right now.
Ryan averaged 53.6 yards on five punts with a long of 65 after averaging 54.0 and 54.6 in Seattle’s first two preseason games.
Hauschka, meawhile, had a 53-yard field goal, as well as a 27-yarder, and now has five field goals of 49 yards or longer in three preseason games. He is 6-7 on field goals with the only miss coming against the Vikings on a 53-yarder when the snap was off-target.
Said Carroll: “After 3 games of preseason, our kickers are doing great. Jon is ridiculously on fire right now and Hauschka keeps hitting all of his stuff, too. That’s not to go unnoticed. That’s because they prepared really well and they had a great offseason and a great camp and they’re really hitting it like they’re capable. I’m really fired up for those guys. Our kicking game should be very solid.”