Quarterback Russell Wilson and a host of other Seahawks put on their full uniforms and went through warmups, as they usually do, before Thursday’s preseason opener against Denver.
And then, as expected, Wilson and most of the rest of Seattle’s starters watched from the sidelines as the Seahawks unveiled lineups featuring largely backups.
Wilson remained in uniform and led the team out of the tunnel before the game but did not play as the starting offense contained just two players who currently project as starters in the team’s base offense — right tackle Germain Ifedi and center Justin Britt.
The rest of the starting offense consisted of quarterback Geno Smith, running back Rashaad Penny, receivers David Moore and DK Metcalf, tight end Nick Vannett, guards Marcus Martin and Ethan Pocic and left tackle Jamarco Jones.
Among the offensive starters joining Wilson on the sidelines were tight end Will Dissly, running back Chris Carson, receivers Tyler Lockett and Jaron Brown, left tackle Duane Brown and guards D.J. Fluker and Mike Iupati.
Seattle’s starting defense, meanwhile, consisted of just four players who might be starters when the regular season begins — strongside linebacker Mychal Kendricks, cornerbacks Tre Flowers and Shaquill Griffin and safety Tedric Thompson.
Other defensive starters were ends Cassius Marsh and Jacob Martin (the team hopes Ziggy Ansah returns to fill the rush end spot when the season begins and the other end spot is up for grabs), tackles Earl Mitchell and Quinton Jefferson (the regular starters would be Poona Ford and Jarran Reed), linebackers Austin Calitro and Cody Barton (Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright) and safety Shalom Luani (Bradley McDougald).
Most of the starters who sat out the game stayed in uniform on the sidelines, a few wearing white bucket hats or white baseball caps.
Throughout the Pete Carroll era, the Seahawks have typically played their full starting offense and defense for at least one series in the preseason opener. But Carroll announced Tuesday that Wilson and many starters would not play in this game. Carroll cited wanting to get the team’s younger players and backups a longer look.
But keeping everyone healthy is another obvious factor — teams around the league are increasingly playing their starters less and less, if at all, in preseason games to avoid injury.
Carroll noted the Seahawks held a particularly intense practice Tuesday, with many of the starters working more than they might normally do to replace the reps they did not get against Denver.
The Rams are among teams that have decided not to play their starters at all in the preseason.
But all indications are that the Seahawks will play Wilson and other starters in their second and third preseason games.
Seattle plays next on Aug. 18 at Minnesota and then on Aug. 24 against the Chargers in Carson, California.
Fant injures ankle
Seahawks offensive lineman George Fant left the game midway through the second quarter with ankle injury. There was no word on the severity other than that his return was listed as doubtful. Fant suffered an ACL injury to his right knee in a preseason game in 2017 that ended his season.
Special teams observations
Among the interesting nuggets from watching special teams was Shaquem Griffin playing the upback, or personal protector role, on the punt team.
Griffin also played that role last year, and has throughout training camp, and it’s a spot that could help assure he makes the 53-man roster.
Griffin also got credit for forcing a fumble on the opening kickoff.
David Moore, meanwhile, handled the first punt return with Lockett sitting out, a play in which there were offsetting holding penalties with Moore officially credited with no return yards.
And Keenan Reynolds handled a kickoff in the first quarter, returning it for 34 yards, getting the call in place of both Lockett and presumed backup returner J.D. McKissic, who sat out with a foot injury.
Tre Flowers and Tedric Thompson were gunners on the kickoff team.
And playing the outside spots on the punt return team were Flowers, Thompson, Neiko Thorpe and Akeem King.
Seahawks to take advantage of long break
The Seahawks will take Friday and Saturday off, then return to practice Sunday and practice for three days, then take a day off and then have three more days of work before heading to Minnesota.
Carroll called the week critical for the Seahawks and said that much of the starting lineup could be set by the end of that time.
“We have an unusual length between these two games that we’re going to try to take full advantage of,’’ Carroll said. “I really believe that the three days next week after we come back from this game are really the heart of this training camp for us. I would like to come out of those three days, which we break, and then we’ll have prep for the next ballgame.
“After those three days, we’ll really have a feel for where we’re going, with the first group at least, not necessarily with the young guys, but with the first guys we should have a really good sense with what we’re doing and how things fit together, and start to figure out the roles and then we’ll let the young guys peck away at that, see if they can chip away and find spots to help out as we move forward.”
• As they did last year, Duane Brown, Quinton Jefferson and Branden Jackson all stayed in locker room for the anthem and then emerged once it was over.
• Wilson and Thorpe, both captains last year, served as captains for the game.
• Members of the 1979 Sonics NBA title team raised the 12th Man flag. Lenny Wilkens raised the flag, and a half dozen or so others attended, including Gus Williams, Jack Sikma, Paul Silas, Joe Hassett and Wally Walker.