The forecast calls for a 90 percent chance of rain Sunday. The Seahawks and Raiders are set for a 6 p.m. local time kickoff.
LONDON — After years of instability on the offensive line, the Seahawks appear to have found a starting five they’d like to keep around for a while.
Asked Friday if the team wants to re-sign guards D.J. Fluker and J.R. Sweezy — each of whom has a one-year contract — coach Pete Carroll said an emphatic “absolutely. Yeah, absolutely.’’
Seattle signed each in the offseason — Fluker in March and Sweezy in August — to what were basically one-year prove-it type deals, each with the chance to earn up to $1.5 million, each far below the deals they’d had previously.
Each player has proved it so far, with the team’s running game having come to life the past three weeks once Fluker recovered from a hamstring injury suffered in the preseason and moved into the starting lineup at right guard, with Sweezy shifting over to the left side, an alignment the team appears set to go with for the rest of the season.
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The rest of the line is under contract through at least 2019 — left tackle Duane Brown, right tackle Germain Ifedi and center Justin Britt — as is Ethan Pocic, who began the year as the starting left guard before suffering an ankle injury and now filling a role as a swing backup on game day with Sweezy having moved into his left-guard spot .
The line with Fluker and Sweezy has averaged 158 yards rushing the past three weeks capped by the 190-yard effort last Sunday against the Rams, while sacks are also down. Quarterback Russell Wilson has been sacked six times combined the past three games after being taken down 12 times in the first two games.
All of that has Carroll thinking the Seahawks have finally found a winning combination up front.
“We feel like we have the core of a group that can really make a difference,’’ Carroll said. “And I felt this before and I’ve talked about it before in years past — when you sense that the core is there, now it’s time to build around that and fortify that. As we have done in the past, we would like to move in that direction if possible. It’s not always as easy as it sounds, but it’s clear with the young running backs and the guys that really have a flair for the style that we want to play in, that we have a chance to do that.”
Ifedi’s rookie contract goes through 2019 while Britt signed an extension last year that takes him through the 2020 season and Brown signed an extension earlier this year that keeps him with the Seahawks through the 2021 season.
Injuries, free agency and ineffectiveness have meant the Seahawks haven’t had more than three of their primary offensive line starters start the following season since 2014.
But Carroll’s comments Friday indicate that could well change in 2019.
SEAHAWKS FEELING ACCLIMATED TO TIME CHANGE, NOW PREPARING FOR RAIN
Wilson may famously use the hashtag “no time to sleep.’’
But Thursday night in London, Wilson found plenty of time to snooze.
After the team’s overnight trip from Seattle following practice Wednesday, and then another practice in London upon arrival Thursday, Wilson said he crashed pretty hard.
“I got seven hours of sleep last night, which is good for me,’’ he said. That, Wilson said, had him feeling “great” despite the eight-hour time difference.
Carroll also said he thinks the team has adjusted well.
“Seems like we’re doing all right,’’ he said after Friday’s practice. “The way everybody’s operating, we’re doing fine. I think a lot of guys woke up in the middle of the night, but it seemed like they managed it OK.”
The bigger issue Sunday may be the conditions at Wembley Stadium.
The weather forecast calls for a 90 percent chance of rain, which could make a field that has been notorious for being slippery for NFL games played there that much more of a challenge.
The Seahawks are scheduled for a walkthrough at Wembley Saturday to gain some familiarity with the field and Carroll noted the grass they have practiced on the past two days at The Grove Hotel is similar to Wembley (the stadium’s website says its field is “enhanced by desso technology which combines synthetic grass with the real Wembley grass to strengthen the surface.’’)
“Well, what we’ve been told — and we’ll be on the turf tomorrow for the first time — that this is the same makeup, same construction of turf, the synthetic aspect of this as well,’’ Carroll said. “I think, from what we understand, Wembley (Stadium’s turf) is more worn so we’ll have to figure out what that means, but we’ve been working with our footwear here in preparation to make sure that we can adapt quickly when we get on that field.”
Conditions were fine for Friday’s practice as it was windy but dry. The Seahawks worked out for about 90 minutes without pads.
The Seahawks were done with their second practice here by about the same time as the Raiders arrived — Oakland didn’t leave until Thursday afternoon.
So if length of acclimatization matters, then consider the Seahawks about a 25-hour favorite.
Wilson, who did a promotional and sight-seeing tour here over the summer, noted he also used that trip to prepare for Sunday’s game.
“That was one of the reasons why I came here this summer was to kind of figure out how my body was going to respond,’’ he said. “It hasn’t been too bad. I think coach has done a great job of getting us here and everything else.’’
SEAHAWKS APPEAR HEALTHY, THOUGH VANNETT AND JORDAN ARE QUESTIONABLE AGAINST RAIDERS
The Seahawks appear relatively healthy heading into Sunday’s game with only linebacker K.J. Wright (knee) and defensive end Rasheem Green (ankle) not expected to play.
Seattle listed two other players as questionable for Sunday’s game — TE Nick Vannett (back) and DE Dion Jordan (knee).
Neither practiced Friday. Vannett has been limited or out all week while Jordan had not been on the injury report before Friday.
Carroll, though, reiterated Friday that Vannett will play against the Raiders.
“We just rested him today but he’s playing,’’ Carroll said. “He’s ready to go.”
TEAM BONDING AT TOPGOLF
The Seahawks are staying quite a ways out from central London, and the demands of a game-week schedule mean there isn’t a whole lot of time for sightseeing anyway.
But many of the players Thursday night visited a TopGolf facility near the team’s hotel (TopGolf features players hitting microchipped golf balls at targets and scoring points for distance and accuracy).
“Just some great team bonding stuff,’’ Wilson said. “There were some guys who could really swing it. George Fant was one of the guys who could hit it pretty far. He hit it pretty good. Justin Britt hit it pretty good a couple of times.’’
Wilson said he did “not too bad,’’ getting about 45 points on 25 balls.