Friday, September 2, 2011

Seahawks to face Raiders with questions still looming large

Graphic courtesy of Ryan Gray (@RGray525)
By Wyatt Lyles

The Seahawks will be taking on the Raiders in their final game of the preseason. There will be a lot of things to look out for in this game, so let’s get right into it.

While the QB controversy had been the biggest question going into games, a new, and perhaps more pressing, issue has come up. That issue is the one of the offensive line. I feel like I’ve been repeating the same things over and over the last couple weeks, but this is a big issue that needs to be worked on. I hope that at least some of the problems will be alleviated once Russell Okung is back into the line up, which looks like may be happening pretty soon here. But until then, there is some major work to be done.

Perhaps the person who’s got the most work to do is rookie right tackle James Carpenter. While he is a rookie and this has been an extremely short off season, there is a big concern with him. I could see if maybe he missed a few blocks here and there, but he got completely destroyed in last Saturday’s game against Denver. Guys were literally just blowing right past him, and knocking him around like he was some skinny kid on the playground. This is something that just can’t happen, an Pete Carroll has recognized this. This week at practice, as reported by Clare Farnsworth of the Seahawks Blog, Carpenter has been splitting reps with Breno Giacomini on the offensive line. This was a smart move as Carpenter just may not be cut out to be a starter just yet. I would say to start him tonight and see how he does. If he shows some improvement, let him start in the season opener against the 49ers. But, if he looks the same as he has been, then it may be time to bench him for now until he’s ready to be a starter. Look to see how the line does tonight. Will our QBs actually have time to throw the ball? We’ll find out soon.

Looking at the QBs briefly, Carroll has said that Tarvaris Jackson will be starting the game, but did not say how long he or any other starter will be playing. It had been speculated that the starters may play longer than usual to get them more reps in preparation of the season opener. Both Charlie Whitehurst and Josh Portis will make an appearance tonight as well, we just don’t know how long.

I won’t go into another discussion of the “QB Controversy” since that’s been hashed, and re-hashed enough already. I will say one thing, though. Some people have been saying all preseason that Whitehurst should be the starter for this team based on his performance in the first two games. When those people were reminded that he had only played against backups, they said that it didn’t matter and that Jackson perhaps wouldn’t be able to do the same against the backups. Well, last weekend, Jackson led a TD drive against the backups, and looked just as good as Whitehurst had against the backups. So some of those naysayers should have been silenced a bit after that.

Also look for what some of the young guys will be doing in this game. There’s a lot of guys, especially at the receiver position (Chris Carter, Patrick Williams, Doug Baldwin, Ricardo Lockette) and in the secondary (FS Mark LeGree, CB Byron Maxwell, SS Josh Pinkard, DB Jeron Johnson, CB Richard Sherman), that will be fighting for a spot on the 53-man roster that needs to be decided on by Saturday. So this is their last chance to make themselves stand out to the coaches. Hopefully they get a chance to play and showcase their abilities in this final game.

Let’s look at some of the injuries this week before we get out of here. Running back Marshawn Lynch (ankle) and linebacker David Hawthorne (knee) did not practice yesterday and have been pretty much ruled out for tonight’s game. The following didn’t practice yesterday, but haven’t been officially ruled out for the game: wide receivers Mike Williams (toe), Sidney Rice (shoulder), Ben Obomanu (head), and Isaiah Stanback (hamstring); defensive lineman Pierre Allen (hamstring), and strong safety Kam Chancellor (foot). We should know more about their official status for the game later on today.

Mainly for tonight, just look for the first team offense to get one last chance to find some cohesion and actually start to gel. This is the last chance they’ll have before the opener to get something going. Let’s hope we see something good out of them today.

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