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Flynn still in, will start against Broncos
Yes, Pete Carroll flirted with the idea of giving rookie Russell Wilson his first NFL start in Saturday night’s preseason game against the Broncos in Denver. And yes, incumbent starter Tarvaris Jackson worked first in the three-quarterback rotation in practice on Tuesday.
But, upon further review, the Seahawks’ third-year coach has decided to stay with his original plan, and that means free-agent acquisition Matt Flynn will get his second start in as many preseason games.
“We’re going to start Matt and kind of keep the same format in this game as well as we did last week,” Carroll said after a two-hour, 15-minute practice that was held in full pads.
Flynn started and played the first of the preseason opener against the Tennessee Titans at CenturyLink Field on Saturday night, completing 11 of 13 passes for 71 yards. Wilson took over in the second half, when he passed for one touchdown and ran for another in the 27-17 victory. Wilson finished 12 of 16 for 124 yards.
“We thought that we gained a lot of information, but we need to see it come back again,” Carroll said.
So, again, it looks like Jackson already has had his most extensive work this week – in the first practice of the week. That was the case last week, when Jackson “started” the mock game on Sunday, and then Flynn started getting the starter reps in practice when the players returned on Tuesday to prepare him for the start against the Titans.
But then Carroll, offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell and quarterbacks coach Carl Smith already have a read on Jackson. He started 14 games last season, after being signed in free agency, and played much of the season with a damaged pectoral in his throwing shoulder. Flynn and Russell joined the team in March and April, respectively.
“Tarvaris has played a lot of football for us,” Carroll said. “We have to give somewhere here, so we’re giving that. We understand what kind of player Tarvaris is. He’s in great shape. He’s studied hard. He’s ready to go. We’re just banking that he’ll be able to hold on to his level of play without two weeks of playing time and playing in the game.
“The emphasis right now is to get Matt and Russell their playtime again so we can really get another big body of knowledge and information from them.”
Despite the direction this thing has gone for two weeks, Carroll emphasized it’s still a three-QB competition to be the starter in the Sept. 9 regular-season opener against the Cardinals in Arizona.
“Absolutely he is (in the competition),” Carroll said of Jackson. “This is just the way I’ve chosen to do it. I’m banking on the 18 games (including last preseason) we’ve seen him. He knows the offense. He knows what’s going on. And I watched him play last year, practicing one day a week for five weeks and he could function.
“So I’m using all that information to allow us the opportunity to see these other guys.”
And what did Carroll see from Flynn and Wilson against the Titans? After reviewing video of the opener, Carroll was left with the same thoughts he had after the game, and reiterated them on Tuesday.
“They were clean enough in their play that it was obvious they had played well,” Carroll said. “Both guys did a very good job, and they both played very much like we see them in practice. They were composed and poised and they did the things we thought we would see.
“That was encouraging and reinforcing, so we’re going to stay with it another week.”
Asked about the thought of taking a look at Wilson as the starter, against the Broncos’ starters, Carroll offered, “There have been thoughts of everything you can think of. Every single way you can split this thing, for months we’ve been thinking about it.”
Carroll was asked how the incumbent starter is handling the situation.
“He’s holding well,” Carroll said. “I think this is very difficult for him, and I admire the heck out of this guy. This isn’t the way he would like to battle for his job. These guys are battling to show what they know and where they are, and we have to assess if they can catch up with him.”
It is, after all, part of Carroll’s grand plan.
“This is what the plan was all along, if it worked out and it has,” he said. “The fact that both guys played well just keeps us in that mode that we’ve got to see a little more and learn a little bit more – see if they can carry it over to a really good defense at Denver, and see how it goes.”