Tre Madden and J.D.McKissic helped their chances of making the roster, plus more of what we learned as the Seahawks beat the Chiefs Friday night.
Here’s what we learned from the Seahawks’ 26-13 preseason win over the Chiefs Friday night.
1. Rees Odhiambo seems likely to be the starting left tackle heading into the regular season
Given that the Seahawks’ preference after George Fant was lost for the season was for Odhiambo to take over the left tackle job so that they could keep Luke Joeckel at left guard it seems he probably did enough to justify staying there heading into the opener at Green Bay Sept. 10.
Seattle moved the ball well in the first half when Odiambo played left tackle the entire way along with the rest of the starters — 224 yards and 7.7 yards per play (the Seahawks averaged 5.6 last season) — and didn’t allow a sack. The sack Odhiambo did allow in the third quarter was apparently the result of confusion over assignment, which is an easier things to fix typically.
Coach Pete Carroll didn’t outright hand the job to Odhiambo afterward but said “he did pretty well’’ and praised the way he approached his preparation for the game. “First time out when he really knew he was the starter and all that, he did a good job,’’ Carroll said.
That could also help the Seahawks solidify their line heading into the final preseason game with Germain Ifedi appearing set at right tackle along with Justin Britt at center and Jockel at left guard. The right guard spot appears still up for grabs between Mark Glowinski and Oday Aboushi. But both have worked extensively with the first team throughout camp and the Seahawks might not worry much if that continues to be a rotation for a while.
2. The first-team defense has a few kinks to work out
It’s hard to worry much about a defense that has accomplished all that the Seahawks have through the years.
But for a third straight game the defense allowed a long scoring drive to open the game — this week it was a 63-yard, 14-play march for a field goal.
Carroll later blamed much of it on what he thought was some poor form tackling, specifically in not having the needed pad level.
“We can do better,’’ Carroll said. “I thought we saw a couple of things fundamentally that we need to really go to work on and zero in on.’’
Of course, we’ve seen the Seattle defense give up scoring drives early before and then find its form and dominate the rest of the game, so maybe this is just some of that.
If nothing else, the relative struggles could serve as a rallying point entering the regular season.
“I don’t think we’re where we need to be to go where we want to go,’’ said defensive end Cliff Avril. “There’s a lot of leaky things but it’s all things that we can fix. … it’s just little things like not allowing them to get two or three yards after that first contact.’’
3. You can probably forget about Jermaine Kearse not making the team
Debating whether Kearse’s job is in danger has been a popular talk show and social media topic of late.
But that seems a dead thought now after Kearse led the Seahawks with 59 yards on three receptions including a 39-yarder in the first quarter that was the longest play of the game — the kind of play that also displayed the “great chemistry” Carroll has said Kearse has with Russell Wilson — and worked with the first-team all night as the third receiver in three-receiver sets.
Speaking just as loudly were the words of Carroll afterward.
“Yeah, he looked good tonight,’’ Carroll said of Kearse. “He did a really good job. I thought the catch over the shoulder was a great throw, but it was better how he set it up and kind of lulled the guy to sleep, and then separated to make the catch right at the last moment. A really classy catch. He’s been playing really great. He had a good game last week, too.”
While Kearse had some struggles last season he has also been as reliable as any receiver Seattle has had the last four years and at the moment that’s something the Seahawks need with Tyler Lockett still yet to play and rookie Amara Darboh yet to make a catch (in fact, it might be worth wondering a little about where Darboh fits in, though his status as a third-round pick would make it hard for the team to waive him).
4. J.D. McKissic took another step toward making the team
With C.J. Prosise and Thomas Rawls out, McKissic got a lot of work as a tailback, both in early downs and as a third-down back (Prosise’s usual role) which takes advantage of McKissic’s receiving background.
He also again served as the primary returner with Lockett out.
Pro Football Focus gave McKissic Seattle’s second-highest grade of the game (after Cassius Marsh) writing that he “made quite an impression Friday night — albeit against second- and third-string defenders. Regardless, McKissic produced 45 yards, and broke a pair of tackles on seven carries. He also caught both of his targeted passes for 21 yards, 18 after the catch.’’
Given Prosise’s continued injury issues and Lockett still being eased back McKissic may be a player the Seahawks won’t have a choice but to keep.
5. Alex Collins appears to be the odd man out at tailback
Collins, a fifth-round pick in 2016 after a storied career at Arkansas, surprisingly did not have a single carry in the game — and he didn’t appear to be hurt as he took part on special teams throughout.
Maybe the team just wanted to take a long look at McKissic and more of one at Mike Davis (who had six carries for 11 yards).
But more likely the team simply isn’t going to have room for Collins with the emergence of rookie Chris Carson the presence of Thomas Rawls, Eddie Lacy and Prosise and probably wanting to keep McKissic as well as a fullback (either Marcel Reece or Tre Madden).
6. Speaking of Madden, he may be a real contender for the fullback spot
Madden scored the only touchdown when the starting offense was on the field on a 2-yard pass from Wilson that he had to lunge to control after it was tipped.
He also had a tackle on special teams and as important as anything else held up blocking.
“He’s helping himself,’’ Carroll said. “He’s making a real bid and he and Marcel are going to battle it out all the way through the end.’’
It doesn’t hurt that Madden is due just $465,000 this season while Reece has a salary of $775,000 that because he is a vested veteran would have to be guaranteed if he is on the roster the first week of the season.
7. Jeremy Lane appears still the front-runner for the starting right cornerback spot
When healthy in training camp Lane has consistently run as the starter at right cornerback in the base defense and then moved inside in the nickel.
But when Lane was out for about a week, missing the first preseason game, the starting spot went to rookie Shaquill Griffin. Lane then played only 12 snaps last week with Griffin again getting much of the right cornerback work.
But Lane returned to full duty Friday and played throughout his time on the field as the starter on the right side in the base with Griffin entering for the nickel, Lane moving inside to play the slot typically and Griffin on the outside.
Nothing seemed to happen in the game to make the Seahawks change that routine — Griffin got beaten on a third down for what would have been a substantial gain but escaped when Tyreek Hill simply dropped the ball, and the Seahawks will almost certainly want to take as much advantage as they can of Lane’s experience when they open the season against Aaron Rodgers and Green Bay at Lambeau Field.
In fact, it might be worth wondering if veteran Tramaine Brock — who has 31 starts the last two seasons with the 49ers — will work his way into being an option at either that spot or the nickel. Brock played substantially in the second half and saw some time at right cornerback forcing a fumble on a blitz and making three tackles overall. Brock’s experience might also be tempting for the Seahawks to use at Lambeau.