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Countdown to kickoff: Seahawks preseason home opener
Greeting from CenturyLink Field, where the football clock is about to strike “Finally!”
Players, coaches, fans and anyone remotely connected to all the good things the Seahawks accomplished during the 2012 NFL season – and postseason – have been counting down the seemingly endless days of the 2013 offseason with an anticipatory eye focused on what’s about to transpire:
The Seahawks’ preseason home opener against the Denver Broncos, with kickoff and televised coverage on Q13 FOX set for 7 o’clock.
Yes, it’s only the preseason. And yes, the starters who started all this excitement last season will play a few series at best before giving way to the younger players who performed so well in last week’s preseason-opening 31-10 victory over Chargers in San Diego. But, also yes, this moves us one glorious step closer to the regular-season opener against the Panthers on Sept. 8 in Carolina – and, quadruple yes, the Sept. 15 home opener against the defending NFC Champion San Francisco 49ers.
But first things first, and that’s tonight’s game against an up-tempo Broncos’ offense that is led by future Hall of Fame QB Peyton Manning in his second season in Denver.
“This is a really good opportunity for us, because they do play up-tempo,” coach Pete Carroll said Friday after practice. “And Peyton is as good as you can get. So we hold that in high regard. This is a very important opportunity for us to work our no-huddle defense.
“Around the league, there are teams that are finding various success with the whole tempo of it. We’ve emphasized it all week long, (and will) for the rest of the season knowing that a lot of people are messing around with it. So we’re hoping this will kind of get us kick-started to where we are and if we can deal with it well.”
Carroll, defensive coordinator Dan Quinn and offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell don’t just want to see the starters play more; they need to see them play better. Against the Chargers, the No. 1 defense yielded a 13-play, 74-yard drive on the game’s first possession. The offense, meanwhile, had only one play of 10-plus yards and generated just three first downs in two series.
“We didn’t get off to a good start,” Carroll said when asked about the offense. “We’d like to get them out there and get a little feel for staying on the field.”
Once the starters have called it an evening, those younger players will take center stage – many of them for the first time at CenturyLink:
Rush-end Benson Mayowa, who had 1.5 sacks against the Chargers and also has spent a lot of time around the quarterback on the practice field.
Rookie defensive tackles Jordan Hill and Jesse Williams, who are becoming bigger factors in the competition for starting jobs on the line in the base defense as well as the nickel line used in passing situations. Williams started at the three-technique tackle spot last week and Hill will get the start tonight.
Allen Bradford, who is making the transition from running back to middle linebacker. He started last week because Bobby Wagner was out and responded with a team-high eight tackles.
Spencer Ware and Derrick Coleman, young backs who are getting time at fullback as well as tailback.
Michael Bowie and Alvin Bailey, rookie tackles who also turned in impressive performances in the opener.
They all flashed under the light in San Diego, and now it’s time to show that there is more to them than those impressive initial performances.
“We’re dying to see consistency,” Carroll said. “Anybody can do something good once. Can you come back and do it again? The young guys will have to come back and prove it, and they’re going to have to do it for four weeks in a row to make the team and be part of it.
“I’m anxious to see what Jordan Hill does again, and Jesse, inside. All of the guys across the board that showed some good sparks first time out, but we want to see them come back.”
We all do, now that the long wait is almost over.