By Mike Jones
The Seahawks begin the preseason this weekend at Kansas City at an unusual time, Saturday at 1:30 p.m. Pacific. Pundits may poo-poo the preseason games, but after a long layoff, the 12s are ready to absorb any Seahawks action, even if it is only an “exhibition.” To add to your motivation to lend attention to the Hawks/Chiefs game, we suggest five Seahawks to watch.
A fifth-round pick out of Arkansas, rookie running back Alex Collins sat out practice Tuesday with an ankle injury, but then fellow rookie RBs C.J. Prosise and Zac Brooks also missed practice, so forecasting which running backs will get the most attention Saturday is problematic. But Collins seems poised to step up. In a scrimmage on Sunday, Collins scored a red-zone rushing touchdown, and he also connected with quarterback Trevone Boykin on what in a game situation likely would have been a 50-yard receiving TD. Collins welcomes the opportunity to showcase his receiving skills, which were limited as a Razorback. “Here, I can be the first read on any given play, and I can be the hot guy, they’re-throwing-it-to-me-now kind of deal,” he said after the scrimmage. “So it’s definitely different.” However, Collins also appeared to fumble early in the scrimmage, though he later denied it was a fumble. Securing his coaches’ faith in his ball security is a goal going into the preseason.
No pressure, Tharold Simon, but Richard Sherman recently reiterated, “I continue to stand by what I’ve always said: He’s going to be better than me by the time it’s all said and done. Kid’s a player.” A fifth-round pick by the Seahawks in 2013, Simon lost his rookie season and last season to toe injuries on either foot. Simon is healthy heading into the 2016 campaign, but he’s third on the depth chart at right cornerback behind DeShawn Shead and Jeremy Lane. Given the brief playing-time expectations for most first-teamers heading into the preseason, Simon should see ample time on the field, and hopefully can stay healthy and begin to live up to Sherm’s lofty prediction.
Perhaps no player stands to gain more from the Seahawks’ “always competing” mantra than Bradley Sowell. An undrafted free agent the Buccaneers picked up out of Mississippi in 2012, Sowell migrated to Indianapolis for a season, then to Arizona, where he was a special teamer and left tackle from 2013 to 2015. A free agent signed by the Seahawks to a one-year deal, Sowell has been sneaking up on presumed top tackles Garry Gilliam and J’Marcus Webb, this week working with the first team. Pete Carroll told Seahawks.com, “Bradley Sowell has done a really nice job. He’s playing both sides, he’s competing for playing time to start—he’s giving Garry a run there, which is great—and he gives us flexibility.” Sound smart with your friends: Sowell rhymes not with “soul” but with “towel.”
A 2014 fourth-round pick from UCLA, Cassius Marsh has yet to make much of an impact outside of special teams. But with a pass-rushing void left by the departure of Bruce Irvin and the retirement of Chris Clemons, this should be Marsh’s time. He might not be the starter at his outside linebacker position (as we *humble brag* predicted last week) as Pete Carroll told the News Tribute that if the Hawks faced a real game situation, Mike Morgan would start. Morgan has more experience, but Dave Boling of the News Tribune praised Marsh as a player who “continues to make plays. And even when he isn’t disruptive against the pass, he’s very quick and effective at the back-side pursuit.” Marsh enters the final year of his contract next season, so with the SAM linebacker position in flux, he needs to start proving he’s worth a mention in the extension conversation.
It’s pointing out the obvious to suggest keeping an eye on the backup quarterback during a preseason game, but the team is showing indications that Trevone Boykin is the man to backup Russell Wilson when the real games begin. There are a few veteran free-agent quarterbacks available (Michael Vick’s name keeps popping up as a possibility, but so far for other teams), and the Seahawks haven’t ruled anything out, but for now it’s only Boykin and Jake Heaps behind Wilson in camp. Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times projects Boykin as the only other quarterback on the eventual 53-man roster. “How Boykin performs — and if he shows he is worthy of being the backup — will be one of the most intriguing aspects of the preseason, beginning with Saturday’s game at Kansas City.”
It may be just week one of the preseason, but the 12s can’t wait for kickoff.