Drawing definitive conclusions from the Seahawks 23-15 preseason victory over the Chargers in Los Angeles last night would be risky business, given that the home team held out many of their front line starters including quarterback Philip Rivers, wide receiver Keenan Allen, and star defenders Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram.
Meanwhile Seattle played all their healthy stars, leading to a clear advantage in the early going. The more impactful storylines began to unfold in the second quarter, and a number of individual performances figure to significantly affect the Seahawks final 53-man roster when final cuts are announced in less than a week.
Thoughts and observations from last night’s game:
C.J. PROSISE REMINDS US HE’S REALLY GOOD... SO NOW WHAT?
Forgive Prosise if he feels compelled to quote the the late-great Mark Twain in proclaiming that “reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.” The perennially-injured running back got his first touch with 6:08 remaining in the second quarter and the entire feel of the game changed in that moment. Over the course of three consecutive running plays, Prosise showed off every tool in his tool belt and displayed the enticing skill set that has kept the Seahawks hoping for a return to health for the 2016 third round pick.
His second run was a thing of beauty - pausing just long enough in the backfield to allow left guard Ethan Pocic time to slide off his initial block and wall off an oncoming linebacker, Prosise chose his hole and exploded before lowering his shoulder and displaying a tough running style you might not expect from a guy who’s only been healthy enough to play in 16 games since he was drafted. In all, Prosise rushed five times for 32 yards, added a gorgeous 15-yard gain on a screen pass, and scored a touchdown.
Redemption or flash in the pan? Many have assumed he wouldn’t make the final cut, but if he can bounce back and play well again on Thursday, or even just play at all, it could change the entire C.J. Prosise narrative as well as his status on the roster.
PROSISE WASN’T ALONE
While Prosise was the headliner, the subscript reads the Seahawks are stacked at running back. Chris Carson, Rashaad Penny, J.D. McKissic, and rookie Travis Homer all made contributions and in fact, each one of them had highlight-worthy moments and showed off a combination of toughness and elusiveness. If Prosise makes the team one of those guys will have to be released or traded. As a sixth-round draft pick, Homer might be the more logical cut because it’s quite possible he would clear waivers and make it through to the practice squad.
SMITH GAINS SEPARATION
For all the excitement over Paxton Lynch’s performance in the preseason opener against Denver, Smith appeared to take the lead in the backup quarterback battle. He appeared confident, decisive, and accurate in his return after having a cyst removed from his knee following the Broncos game, completing 11 of 18 passes for 117 yards and adding a rushing touchdown.
PASS RUSH STILL AWOL
The Seahawks managed just a single sack by Branden Jackson last night and were unable to muster any kind of pressure while rushing only four defensive linemen. To combat that, we saw a lot more twists, stunts, and linebacker blitzes than we’re accustomed to during Pete Carroll’s tenure in Seattle. While they were often effective sending extra rushers, that doesn’t figure to be a recipe for success once the real bullets start flying. A return to health for free-agent signing Ziggy Ansah and first-round draftee L.J. Collier before the season opener against Cincinnati would certainly help, as would the acquisition of someone from outside the organization. Look for general manager John Schneider to be active in trade talks with other teams this week.
GREEN AND BURR-KIRVEN ON THE BUBBLE?
Last year’s third round pick, defensive end Rasheem Green, was invisible last night despite playing the second-most snaps of any defender. He just doesn’t appear to be the impact pass rusher the team envisioned when they selected him out of USC. Any move to acquire pass rush help could put Green in jeopardy of being released.
Meanwhile, Ben Burr-Kirven didn’t even see the field until there were eight minutes left in the game. His selection in the fifth round this year was applauded by local football fans used the seeing the former Washington Husky fly around the field making plays, but despite making an impression in rookie mini-camp, he’s failed to do so here in the preseason. WIth the Seahawks linebacker corps among the best and deepest in the league, he may be ticketed for the practice squad or another team’s roster.
MORE NOTEWORTHY PERFORMANCES
- Seventh round pick John Ursua has gone from the bubble to an apparent lock for the roster after the diminutive wide receiver posted another strong performance. The University of Hawaii product led the team in receiving yards with 52 on two grabs, once again looking like a polished pro instead of an overwhelmed rookie.
- Fourth-round pick Greg Jennings flashed his smooth, easy speed on a 12-yard reception in the third quarter while barely missing out on a longer gain in the first half as his left food landed inches out of bounds on a beautiful deep pass from Smith. With David Moore battling what Carroll describes as a serious shoulder injury to start the season, Jennings spot on the 53-man roster may be safe.
- Ethan Pocic once again looked outstanding at left guard playing for an injured Mike Iupati. If the oft-injured veteran Iupati doesn’t get back on the field soon, the starting job (and roster spot) may be Pocic’s to keep.
- Jacob Hollister played more snaps than any of the other tight ends and showed off the receiving skills that have been the talk of camp, hauling in three catches for 17 yards.
- Rookie defensive back Ugo Amadi led the team in tackles and appears to have a leg up on the competition to be the primary return man, although a muffed punt return late in the game didn’t do him any favors. Once again, however, he was all over the field on his defensive snaps and looks like a guy destined to make an impact in his first year.
With just three days remaining until the final preseason game against Oakland at CenturyLink Field on Thursday and final cuts looming on Saturday, it already figured to be a frenzied final few days of decisions for Schneider and Carroll. Some of the performances last night in Los Angeles may have made their job even more difficult.