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Countdown To Kickoff: Seahawks at Oakland Raiders

Posted Aug 28, 2014

Seattle concludes its preseason slate on Thursday night by playing the Raiders for the ninth consecutive summer in their finale, but the game is being played in Oakland for only the second time in that span.

OAKLAND, Calif. – Greetings from O.co Coliseum, where the Seahawks (2-1) play their preseason finale on Thursday night against the Raiders (1-2). This is the ninth consecutive season the Seahawks have closed the preseason against the Raiders, but only the second time the game is being played at the former Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum.

At first glance, this is almost one of those oh-yeah games after the way the Seahawks’ starters have dominated the first halves of their past two preseason games in outscoring the San Diego Chargers and Chicago Bears by a combined score of 55-7, and with the Sept. 4 nationally televised NFL-regular-season opener against the Green Bay Packers at CenturyLink Field looming larger by the day.

But look a little closer, because coach Pete Carroll and his staff will.

The starters will play sparingly, if at all for some, before this evening is turned over to those trying to solidify roles or secure roster spots with the Super Bowl champions. The 75-man roster must be trimmed to 53 players by 1 p..m PT on Saturday, Aug. 30, so it’s eighth-grade Sewickley just how much this game means to 22 players.

A good place to start is with a couple of former Raiders – Terrelle Pryor and Phillip Adams. Each played for the Raiders last season, and even started games. Their roles with the Seahawks will be defined not solely by what they do in this preseason finale, but their performances could sway the final verdict.

Pryor is expected to take over at quarterback after Russell Wilson calls it an early evening, while Adams likely will be the nickel back with the No. 1 defense because Jeremy Lane is out with a sore hamstring.

“There’s stuff that’s in the balance,” Carroll said after Wednesday’s practice. “There are guys that are really close. There are a number of competitions where it’s one or the other. We are going to take all of the information in. We have not made our decisions at this point, our final choices. So it’s exciting to see these guys out there and going for it.”

Carroll wasn’t talking specifically about Pryor, who has been more effective as a runner (7.1-yard average, with a 44-yard TD run) than a passer (45.5 percent completions with two interceptions for a 29.9 rating). But Pryor will get his chance to make amends against the team that selected him in the 2011 NFL Supplemental Draft.

And what does Carroll want to see from Pryor?

“Just playing ball, just see him play ball,” Carroll said. “I hope the cool things we’ve seen on the practice field will show up on the game field. He had a nice first game. Then the opportunities just didn’t work out quite as well for chances to do things. So hopefully this game will be different.”

This game will be different for the starters, especially after their longest stint of the preseason last week. There will be plenty of sideline time for them, but they also will be evaluated.

“We ask our guys to stay in the game and really contribute to the effort by helping the other guys,” Carroll said. “Watching them and as they come off communicating with them.”

For an example of what he’s talking about, see All-Pro free safety Earl Thomas – on any given day, in any given situation.

As Thomas tweeted: “Really excited for all my young teammates that get to showcase their skills … in our last preseason game.”

Right on cue, as usual.

“We want our guys to stay in it,” Carroll said. “I don’t want guys sitting back and not paying attention. We’re trying to stay with it and help these other guys compete with their opportunity and pull for them. And in that, there’s always something you can learn, there’s an observation you can make.

“So we’re going to take advantage of that by keeping everybody’s heads in the game.”

So from that standpoint, this game is as important for those who will be standing and watching as those who are playing for roster spots.

It’s all part of the process that began during the first team meeting of the offseason in April and has continued to this point – one last preseason game, where so much is at stake for so many.

So sit back and enjoy the last step in the preseason process, with kickoff on Q13 FOX (channel 13 in Seattle) set for 7 p.m. and pregame coverage beginning at 6 p.m.