The Seahawks suited up 53 players Thursday, the Raiders 46 with neither team playing anyone who is established as a starter.
Welcome to the fourth — and thankfully final — game of the NFL preseason, in which it’s only the games within the game that matter, players getting one last shot to show they deserve to make it on the initial 53-man roster. Teams must now cut their rosters from 90 to 53 by Saturday at 1 p.m.
Here are a few thoughts on what stood out in Seattle’s 17-15 victory over the Raiders, which left the Seahawks with a 3-1 record to end the preseason (though who knows what that means — Seattle went 0-4 last year before going 10-6 in the regular season).
Geno sews up backup QB job — assuming he’s healthy
The backup job was maybe briefly in doubt following the preseason opener when Paxton Lynch played well and Geno Smith then had surgery on his left knee to remove a cyst.
But Smith returned for the final two games and played well, capped off by completing 4 of 7 passes for 107 yards and two touchdowns in the first half Thursday night.
But, he then left late in the second quarter with a left knee injury that coach Pete Carroll referred to as “a tweak” and said he will be evaluated.
“We’ll know in the next couple of days,” Carroll said.
Smith ended the preseason 18 for 34 passing for 282 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions, a rating of 100.37. That, coupled with his 31 career starts, looks like enough to give him the nod assuming his knee issue isn’t something significant.
Prosise runs away with a job?
After C.J. Prosise’s comeback outing last week against the Chargers, Carroll said he wanted to see him do it again.
Prosise did as asked Thursday with 42 yards in the first half, including a nifty 30-yarder in which he bounced off a defender and sped down the sideline. He came out shortly after that, having gained 74 yards on 10 carries in the past two games, with one big point having been made. Prosise has had durability issues throughout his career — playing in just 16 games in three seasons. But Carroll spoke as if he is a lock to make it as a backup to Chris Carson and Rashaad Penny (who each sat out) and also likely as a third-down back, having shown again what he can do when he is healthy.
“When he had two weeks to be available he showed again what he is made of,” Carroll said.
BBK is everywhere while Shaquem Griffin is sidelined again
What didn’t former Husky Ben Burr-Kirven do to make the Seahawks notice him?
He had five tackles by halftime (and 12 by the end of the game), including a 9-yard sack on a fourth-and-goal play at the 1 when he sniffed out a rollout and got to Mike Glennon before he could get rid of the ball.
He also tipped a pass and came hard on another blitz in which he forced a hurried throw. Burr-Kirven was called for a penalty for landing squarely on the quarterback on the play, but Carroll will undoubtedly like the want-to.
“He had a huge game, a huge game,” Carroll said. “Making plays everywhere.”
While Burr-Kirven played substantially, Shaquem Griffin — another young player trying to make the roster as a backup linebacker and special-teamer — did not play at all on defense, though he was on special teams, making an early tackle on a punt before being sidelined when he re-aggravated a bruised knee.
Carroll said afterward Griffin will have an MRI on the knee to see what the issue is, leading to the idea that if he is going to be out long he could just go on the injured reserve list, which might help clear out the linebacker logjam some.
“It has persisted some,” Carroll said, saying the MRI will be done “just so we know what’s going on. It just hasn’t gotten well fast enough for us.”
Mingo making things murky?
Veteran rush end Barkevious Mingo got substantial action early and was hardly impressive, getting knocked down on an early play by former Seahawk Luke Willson and then losing contain on a 17-yard run.
He appears squarely on the bubble, especially thanks to his $3.4 million base salary the team can save releasing him.
Blair’s hip flares up
The Seahawks saw very little of another player they hoped to see a lot of — rookie safety Marquise Blair. Blair started the game but didn’t play after the first series with what Carroll called a hip pointer that is related to the back injury he suffered in the Minnesota game.
That had Seattle going with Lano Hill and either Ugo Amadi or Shalom Luani as the backup safeties for most of the rest of the game — Tedric Thompson joined Bradley McDougald among those who sat out, indicating they will be the starting safety duo when the regular season begins.
Blair had some big moments in the preseason opener, but the injury limited him since and Seattle could have something of a decision to make if it thinks the injury could linger.
Shead plays a ton at cornerback
One player who could help as a backup safety is DeShawn Shead, who played a lot of safety in the first two preseason games.
But Thursday he played mostly at right cornerback — he moved back to safety in the fourth quarter.
Shead was a cornerback when his previous stint with the Seahawks ended, but the initial plan when he returned this year was that he would help out at safety.
“We wanted to give him a chance to show us the versatility,” Carroll said.
Young receivers continue to be a mixed bag
Especially once Smith left the game, Seattle’s passing game was a struggle — a backup offensive line playing some deep reserves due to injuries didn’t help.
That made it hard for many of the team’s young receivers to stand out much. Seattle had just five completions through three quarters.
Neither of draft choices Gary Jennings or John Ursua had a target through three quarters — leaving Jennings to that point with just one catch for 12 yards for the preseason. And for the second consecutive week he had a 15-yard penalty, this time for hitting a punt returner a hair early.
Jennings’ status as a fourth-round choice has led to the idea he’d be a tough player to cut. But Seattle had to be hoping for more production in the preseason.
Carroll, though, noted that Jennings had some big moments in practices and defended him on the penalty saying he was just a split second away from making a big play.
“He’s done a nice job,” Carroll said. “He’s competed like crazy.”
Meanwhile, Jazz Ferguson turned in one more big play — a 41-yarder from Smith that sparked a touchdown drive.
Ferguson had been quiet since the opener against Denver. But he has shown a knack for the big play — entering the fourth quarter he was the team’s leading receiver in the preseason with seven receptions for 119 yards, 17 yards per catch.
And undrafted free agent Terry Wright — who has seemed a long shot to make it — had a big play early with a 39-yard touchdown from Smith
“We have some extremely difficult decisions at this time and it will take us all weekend to figure it out,” Carroll said.
Metcalf does some running and Ansah, Collier also get in some early work
Maybe as interesting as what happened in the game was the sight of DK Metcalf running some hard sprints on the field about two hours before kickoff. He also stopped off in the end zone to catch a few passes from Russell Wilson. Also, defensive ends Ziggy Ansah and L.J. Collier went through some early warmups.
Carroll said Wednesday to “wait and see’’ if Metcalf will be available for the regular-season opener Sept. 8 against the Bengals after having minor knee surgery a week ago Tuesday.
But Carroll also noted with optimism that Metcalf was set to run after practice Wednesday.
That session obviously went well enough that Metcalf was able to again run on the turf at CenturyLink Field on Thursday.
At the least, it seems to show that Metcalf might indeed be on his way to a quick recovery, as Carroll has said all along he thought would be the case.
As for Ansah, he was in pads during warmups, the third consecutive day he has done some work after finally returning to practice Tuesday. Carroll said again after the game that the team is planning on Ansah being ready for the season opener Sept. 8 against the Bengals, saying Ansah had been medically cleared to play.
Carroll said Collier — the team’s first-round choice who has been out since early in camp with a sprained ankle — also got in some conditioning work early that was “really encouraging.” Carroll said he hopes Collier might be able to practice some Monday.
Wilson gets his work in on the sideline
Yes, that really was Russell Wilson calling plays for a couple of series in the first half, wearing the head set usually reserved for offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer.
Wilson called the plays for a series that went 52 yards in four plays and resulted in a Geno Smith 11-yard touchdown pass to Jacob Hollister in the second quarter as well as the next series, a three-and-out.
Carroll said Wilson called the plays “to keep him engaged, challenge him, make him appreciate what it’s like. Just an opportunity to grow. It was really fun on the sidelines when he was doing it and he took them down the field. Got a little win. It was like ‘okay, what did you think was going to happen?’ It was fun.”
But Carroll then noted with a smile that the Seahawks “didn’t make a yard on the next drive, so tell him that, too.”