RENTON — The big story for Game Two of the Seahawks’ preseason Thursday night against Chicago was supposed to be a starting opportunity for quarterback Drew Lock.

Instead, Lock will miss the game after testing positive for COVID-19 Tuesday, meaning Geno Smith will get his second straight start with Jacob Eason also slated to play.

Smith, to be sure, is worth watching, with a strong game giving him a chance to stake an even bigger claim to the job and a poor showing maybe making the Seahawks want to assure Lock gets a start next Friday at Dallas.

But judgments obviously won’t be as easy with Lock sidelined.

With the QB competition somewhat on hold, here are five other things to watch.


Whether the tackling will get better

Shoddy tackling played a large role in Seattle falling quickly behind Pittsburgh 14-0 Saturday in an eventual 32-25 loss. Pro Football Focus counted Seattle with 15 missed tackles and gave the Seahawks the third-worst tackling grade of the preseason.

As coach Pete Carroll noted, many were made by either rookies or other young players who have seen little action — the only veteran starter credited with missed tackles was Darrell Taylor with two.

“A lot of young guys missed their stuff,” Carroll said.

But, Carroll is hoping for massive improvement against the Bears saying “we’ve got to do way better than we did.”

And while Carroll and the Seahawks might be willing to excuse a few miscues from young players for one game, they won’t be as willing to forgive two weeks in a row when evaluation time comes around.

Whether the young tackles will continue to impress

The big positive was the play of Seattle’s oft-maligned offensive line.

The Seahawks had the best run blocking grade of any offensive line in the NFL in Week 1, according to PFF, and the third-best pass blocking grade. And that was due in large part due to impressive performances from rookie tackles Charles Cross and Abraham Lucas — Lucas had the 25th best grade of any offensive lineman and Cross one of the best pass-blocking grades.


Cross has a lock on the left tackle job while Lucas remains in a tight battle with Jake Curhan for the right tackle spot. Curhan, who started against the Steelers, was back working with the starting offense for much of Wednesday’s practice after sitting out Tuesday with back spasms. He might get the start again.

“It’s wide open right now,” Carroll said of the right tackle competition, while allowing that Lucas “made a big, big statement” with his play.

Curhan also continues to see time at guard, and the bigger picture for the Seahawks is that they appear to have three young tackles they feel increasingly confident about.

The continually evolving cornerback position

Sidney Jones IV returned this week from a concussion that held him out against the Steelers and worked in practice as the starter at left cornerback — a spot that for now seems pretty solidly his.

But the right cornerback and nickel spots appear more uncertain. With Artie Burns, who had been the starting right cornerback early in camp, missing a second straight game with a groin issue, rookie Tariq Woolen will get another start and another chance to continue to show he’s ready. Woolen had a rough beginning to the Steelers game with a missed tackle and a blown coverage that led to a TD. But he played better as the game wore on and had a good week in practice with an interception and a pass breakup in the end zone on Tuesday.

And fellow rookie cornerback Coby Bryant will again play substantially at the nickel position, a spot he began playing last week. Veteran Justin Coleman remains the starter there, but the Seahawks would obviously be excited to get Bryant on the field if he proves he can make a quick transition to nickel, a spot he said he’s never played before last week.


Who will step up at receiver?

The Seahawks continue to battle injuries at receiver with Dee Eskridge and Marquise Goodwin each sidelined with hamstring injuries and Cody Thompson placed on the injured reserve with a shoulder injury.

The injuries compelled the team this week to trade defensive back Ugo Amadi for former Eagles second-round pick J.J. Arcega-Whiteside to add depth. Arcega-Whiteside got some snaps in team sessions this week and could see the field Thursday, though likely in limited action.

But the injuries and the fact that the Seahawks appear unlikely to play DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett in the preseason will again open the door for more playing time for a number of young receivers hoping to get a spot on the 53-man roster. That includes seventh-round picks Bo Melton and Dareke Young, who each made big plays against the Steelers — Melton turned a short pass into a 39-yard gain and Young scored a touchdown on a 3-yard pass from Lock.

Carroll this week also cited second-year receiver Cade Johnson, who joined the team last year as an undrafted free agent out of South Dakota State. Johnson had a 21-yard reception from Smith against the Steelers that set up Seattle’s first touchdown and has also had some impressive moments in practices of late.

“Cade’s making a move,” Carroll said. “We’ve seen it in the game and we’ve seen it in practice. He’s a savvy football player. … He’s making some noise.”

He’ll try to make more Thursday.

Three players to watch

Linebacker Joel Dublanko: The rookie middle linebacker, a native of Aberdeen who played at Cincinnati, has been with the Seahawks less than two weeks. But he’s made an impression, leading the Seahawks with eight tackles against the Steelers. And as Carroll noted, some injuries at that spot means “there’s an opportunity at linebacker. He’s going to get a lot of action this week.’’


Defensive tackle Myles Adams: A third-year player out of Rice who played two games late last season, Adams had four tackles and a pass defense against the Steelers and earned the fourth-best grade of any defender from PFF, an assessment backed up this week by Carroll who said “the guy inside that really flashed this week was Myles. He made a couple of big plays, a huge play on third down, a pass knocked down.”

Adams may play so well the Seahawks would have to keep him rather than risk trying to get him through waivers.

Guard Phil Haynes: Haynes started last week against the Steelers instead of resting veteran Gabe Jackson, and might get the start again against the Bears. He’ll for sure see a lot of action with Carroll saying recently that Haynes is pushing Jackson for the starting job. Haynes only helped himself against the Steelers earning the best grade of any of the team’s OL from Pro Football Focus and the 11th best of any OL in the NFL.