George Fant makes his RT debut. Can C.J. Prosise take advantage of his chance? Brandon Marshall and veteran newcomer defensive backs Dontae Johnson and Maurice Alexander also have a lot on the line against the Vikings.
The Seahawks would sort of like to win Friday’s preseason game at Minnesota (5 p.m. on Ch. 13) after having lost the first two.
Seattle hasn’t had worse than a 2-2 record in the preseason since Pete Carroll’s first year in 2010 (when the Seahawks went 1-3) and the team’s 4-0 starts in 2012 and 2013 were regarded at the time as indicative of a growing depth that foreshadowed the success of those two teams (though the 4-0 mark in the preseason a year ago ultimately foreshadowed little at all).
But what the Seahawks care about most is getting a good look at a number of younger or newer-to-the-team players who are fighting either for roster spots or to show what the team may be able to expect out of them this season.
“It just feels like we’re going to get more impact from guys that we need information on,’’ Carroll said Thursday. “It should be a good week for us.”
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Here’s a look at five players the Seahawks will pay particular attention to on Friday.
1. OT George Fant: Fant was the story of the week with his move to right tackle, where he is now expected to push starter Germain Ifedi, who struggled particularly in pass protection last week against the Chargers. Fant, though, has had just two full practices at right tackle and is still in getting-back-to-normal mode after his ACL injury last year.
On Thursday, Carroll, interestingly, seemed to temper immediate expectations for Fant, likely because this will be his first game at right tackle and the Vikings have one of the best defenses in the NFL. End Danielle Hunter, who typically lines up over the right tackle, will be an elite challenge for both Ifedi and Fant for as long as he is in the game.
“It’s going to take a little bit for him to really feel comfortable with all the things that are happening,’’ Carroll said. “The running game has not been an issue at all, just pass sets and the variety of things that could happen for this to work out. So, it’s going to take a bit, but he’s a great guy to have there competing for us.’’
The best-case scenario for Seattle is still that Ifedi smoothes things out and the Seahawks can go with the offensive line they have planned all along. But if not, Seattle will be looking for glimpses that Fant can step in.
2. RB C.J. Prosise: The oft-injured, third-year running back figures to play a lot against the Vikings with Rashaad Penny and J.D. McKissic sidelined. Seattle hopes he can build off what he did last week, when he played most of the second half against the Chargers, and had 12 yards on three carries and six receptions for 35 yards. McKissic’s injury means Prosise could be ticketed for a big role to start out the season as the primary third-down/two-minute back if he can stay healthy.
“What I’m looking for is for him just to play football,’’ Carroll said. “I know he’s a good ballplayer. I don’t have any question (about that). Just go out there and battle and club away and hopefully make a couple of plays. We want to get him more in the passing game. Really, this is just about consistency for him and coming back and continuing to return to the playing field.’’
3. WR Brandon Marshall: Expect the veteran to start and to get more than the 17 snaps he had last week against the Chargers. He had just one target in that game, a third-down pass that went off his hands, and doesn’t have a reception yet in the preseason.
Conventional wisdom indicates that Marshall has done enough in practice to be on the 53-man roster when the season begins, Carroll seemed to imply Thursday the Seahawks would like to see a little production on the field to make sure.
“This week is the best week (of practice) he’s had,’’ Carroll said. “He’s ready to go. He’ll get some good play time this week and we’ll see how it fits together with Russ (Wilson) and the offense and give himself a chance to be a part of the club.”
4. S Maurice Alexander: With Bradley McDougald out with a pec injury, Alexander — who started 23 games with the Rams — will get his most extensive playing time with the Seahawks against the Vikings. Alexander could get the start alongside Tedric Thompson.
While Thompson has flashed some hopeful signs, the Seahawks hope they see enough out of Alexander to know they can go with an experienced player alongside McDougald. That could allow them to ease Thompson — who has just eight career snaps — into regular season play.
5. CB Dontae Johnson: Johnson, who started all 16 games for the 49ers last year, made his Seahawks debut alongside Alexander last week. Like Alexander, he could end up with a starting role depending on what the team sees over the next two weeks. Johnson could get the start at right corner since Byron Maxwell is again out with a groin issue. Rookie Tre Flowers started the first two games with Maxwell out and Johnson out the first week, but the Seahawks figure to throw Johnston out there this week and see what they have.
How he does could affect what Seattle does with Maxwell, who has yet to play in the preseason and whose $950,000 contract would be guaranteed if he is on the roster in week one — he also gets a $100,000 bonus if he is on the roster in week one. The Seahawks don’t figure to keep Johnson, Maxwell and Neiko Thorpe. With the latter two having yet to play, this is Johnson’s chance to make the roster.