The hint from Seahawks coach Pete Carroll a week ago was that more of the team’s starting players would see some action in the final preseason game.
But when kickoff arrived Saturday night at Lumen Field against the Chargers, the Seahawks held out essentially the same number of players as last week — 23. Last week, the Seahawks held out 22 players and on Week 1 the Seahawks held out 31.
“Just want to be able to take care of people,’’ Seahawks general manager John Schneider said on the team’s pregame radio show.
As was the case the last two weeks, many of the key players who sat out — such as QB Russell Wilson, safety Jamal Adams and defensive end Carlos Dunlap — put on pads and went through pregame warm-ups (though one who did not was middle linebacker Bobby Wagner).
But when the game began, they stayed on the sideline.
And that meant that for the first time in his career, Wilson did not get any snaps in a preseason game, other than last year, when none were played.
One thought is that Carroll’s views changed a bit after last season, when COVID-19 canceled the preseason.
The Seahawks used two scrimmages — which the team can control to make sure the offense and defense get the situational work they need — to get ready for the season.
The Seahawks started 5-0 which apparently convinced Carroll that preseason snaps are not necessary for all players.
The Seahawks held one mock game this year in which Wilson and starters got significant work.
The Seahawks also want to avoid injury to key players, as Schneider noted, and to keep as much of their new offense under wraps as possible.
Schneider also said the new three-game preseason and 17-game regular season is changing the views of some teams on how to approach the preseason.
“Everybody is trying to feel their way through this thing,’’ Schneider said, adding that with 17 regular-season games “we have to be very, very careful with these guys all the way through.’’
Some teams have played starters — Tom Brady threw 14 passes for Tampa Bay Saturday night, for instance.
But one growing trend around the league is for teams to hold joint practices with another team instead of playing starters in preseason games.
Schneider said that’s something the Seahawks could consider.
“Maybe that’s something we look into next year, too,’’ Schneider said, adding that one benefit is that teams can script the practices. “You can kind of keep things in control more than you can in the preseason games.’’
Carroll was vague when asked Friday about who would play, with one thought also being that the NFL doesn’t want coaches to acknowledge ahead of time that key players won’t see action.
“I know you want to know who’s playing,’’ Carroll said Friday. “You guys will find out when we get there how we’re doing that. Really, the decisions that we’re making are for competition and to give guys the opportunity to show everything they can show to make this club.’’
Swain gets early punt returns
While DeeJay Dallas has appeared to take a strong hold on the kickoff return job to start the year, the punt return competition still seems unsettled.
John Ursua, who is out for the year, got some returns in the opener against the Raiders. Freddie Swain and Aaron Fuller handled one punt each in the first two games.
When the Chargers first punted Saturday night, Swain — a second-year receiver out of Florida — was back deep. He called a fair catch on his first attempt and on the second let the ball bounce into the end zone.
Cornerback D.J. Reed is also listed as a kickoff and punt returner, but he did not see action in the first two games due to injury. Reed will likely be a factor in returns when the season begins.
Everett gets in on the action
One of the team’s most high-profile offseason acquisitions, tight end Gerald Everett, saw his first action of the preseason and caught one pass for 2 yards in the first quarter.
Everett, who signed a one-year contract with a void year for $6 million in the offseason, is expected to be a significant factor in the offense this season.
Will Dissly also saw his first action of the preseason as the Seahawks decided to get their starting tight ends some work.
The Seahawks’ third tight end, Colby Parkinson, remains out with a foot injury and the team may have to make a decision as to his status when roster cuts are made this week. Carroll, though, said after the game the team thinks there’s a chance Parkinson will be ready for the regular season.
The Seahawks signed Luke Willson this week, but after taking part in one practice he decided to retire. The Seahawks signed Ian Bunting on Thursday, who had recently been released by the Cardinals, to fill out the depth at tight end.
Bunting was immediately thrown into the fray, getting some snaps in the first half.
- Safety Quandre Diggs, who did not practice this week while “making a statement’’ about his contract situation, in the words of Carroll, was in uniform for pregame warm-ups. Carroll said after the game “we’ll see” when asked if Diggs will practice this week. “We’ve had great conversations, and it’s important that we were able to really address this where he is and where he’s coming from and I got a chance to hear him out and all that. …. really, I can’t imagine not playing with him.”
- Stephanie Solari, daughter of offensive line coach Mike Solari, sang the anthem.
- Veteran defensive tackle Al Woods is now wearing No. 99. He began the year wearing 93.