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Countdown To Kickoff: Seahawks vs Bears

Posted Aug 22, 2014

The starters will play their longest stint of the preseason on Friday night at CenturyLink Field, and for the Seahawks that also means having several starters make their 2014 debuts against the Chicago Bears.

Greetings from CenturyLink Field, where the Seahawks are about to do something they haven’t done since Pete Carroll’s first season as coach in 2010: Play back-to-back home games in the preseason.

After trouncing the San Diego Chargers 41-14 last Friday night, the Seahawks are hosting the Chicago Bears on this Friday night. In their first season under Carroll, the Seahawks opened the preseason by splitting home games against the Tennessee Titans (a 20-18 victory) and Green Bay Packers (a 27-24 loss).

But Carroll’s fifth edition of the Seahawks looks nothing like that first edition, as nose tackle Brandon Mebane, punter Jon Ryan, and center Max Unger are the only players remaining from the team Carroll inherited – and, along with general manager John Schneider, transformed.

Friday night’s game also is significant because the starters will play their longest stint of the preseason, and also because a trio of starters are expected to make their preseason debuts – Unger and left tackle Russell Okung on offense; strong safety Kam Chancellor on defense.

Linebacker Malcolm Smith, the MVP of Super Bowl XLVIII, also is expected to play; while leading rusher Marshawn Lynch will get his first carries of the preseason after playing the first two snaps last week without touching the ball.

In other words, the clock is ticking toward the nationally televised regular-season opener against the Green Bay Packers on Sept. 4. The Seahawks will have a short week to prepare for their preseason finale next Thursday night against the Raiders in Oakland, where the starters will play sparingly, if at all. Then the Seahawks open defense of their Super Bowl title a week later at CenturyLink Field.

So Friday night’s outing is more than just another preseason game. It is the game where the players who will play the biggest roles during the regular season get one last – longer – tune-up.

“I just want guys to play,” Carroll said after Thursday’s walkthrough when asked what he needs to see from his starters. “You want them out there, and have to get more play time just to get adapted to the new season. As we stage it, this is the game they’ll play the most. So other than that, it’s consistency. We’d like to see us come out and play really good, smart football again. Take care of the ball, like we always do.

“And just see if we keep growing.”

The growth from the 21-16 loss to the Broncos in Denver in their opener to last week’s 27-point victory over the Chargers was more like a growth spurt. The offense was much more productive, rushing for five touchdowns – four of them by quarterbacks Russell Wilson (two), Terrelle Pryor and B.J. Daniels. The defense was much more disruptive, generating five sacks and 10 QB hits. The special teams were, well, special.

Against the Bears, the Seahawks need not only a carryover performance, but one that will carry them until that Sept. 4 matchup with the Packers – when the whole NFL world will be watching to see what the Seahawks might have in store for an encore. Or, if you will, What’s Next?

“I just want to see us be consistent,” offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said when presented with the what-he-needs-to-see question. “We made a nice jump from the first game to the second game. We played pretty well offensively and we just want to continue to be able to progress. Continue to play consistent ball.

“(Against the Chargers) we were able to hold on to the ball. We were able to convert on third downs. We were able to do a nice job in the red zone. But that’s one game. We need to do it on a consistent basis.”

Just as the defense did last season, when the Seahawks led the league in average points and yards allowed – and probably confidence, too.

“We value each and every opportunity that we have,” defensive backs coach Kris Richard said. “Really, the opponent is never ever going to make the difference. It’s just us and how we prepare. Obviously, we know who they are, we had a chance to study them and take a look at them all week. And we’ll be prepared for the challenge.”

So it’s time for you to get prepared, too, because kickoff and televised coverage on Q13 FOX is set for 7 p.m. PT, with the pregame show beginning at 6 p.m.