Several key players could return for Seahawks on Friday night

Posted Aug 21, 2014

When the Seahawks play their home finale against the Chicago Bears on Friday night, the starters will see their longest stint of the preseason – and several key starters could make their summer debuts.

Kam Chancellor, Max Unger, Russell Okung and Malcolm Smith, come on down? Marshawn Lynch, step right up.

In the what-have-you-done-for-me-lately world of the NFL, these five players who did so much during the Seahawks’ run to the first Super Bowl championship in franchise history last season have nothing – or next to it – this preseason.

But that could/should change on Friday night, when the Seahawks host the Chicago Bears in their preseason home finale at CenturyLink Field. It’s also the third game, which means the starters will get their longest stint of the preseason by playing the first half and likely into the third quarter.

Lynch, who was late arriving to training camp, started last week’s game against the San Diego Chargers. But his debut lasted two plays and did not include a carry. That will change against the Bears.

“It’s time. It’s time for him to get some carries and get involved a little bit,” coach Pete Carroll said after Thursday’s walkthrough, which was conducted in the indoor practice facility at Virginia Mason Athletic Center.

“So he’ll be ready to go and I know he’s looking forward to that, too.”

Make it really looking forward to that. Just imagine, the Seahawks’ Beast Mode back has not slammed into an opposing defender with the ball in his hands since that 43-8 victory over the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII on Feb. 2. That’s an eternity for a player who thrives on touches and strives to dish out more punishment than he takes.

It definitely will help if Lynch has Unger, the Pro Bowl center, and Okung, the Pro Bowl-caliber left tackle, in the huddle and on the starting line. Neither has played in the preseason – Okung because he had offseason foot surgery; Unger because of a sore groin. But they have been practicing this week and the impact of their presence has been palpable. Left guard James Carpenter returned last week – joining a right side comprised of guard J.R. Sweezy and rookie tackle Justin Britt – and drew praise for his efforts in the first half of the 41-14 romp over the San Diego Chargers.

“That would be a huge bonus for us to get them all back,” offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said.

Defensive coordinator Dan Quinn seconds that notion when it comes to Chancellor, an All-Pro strong safety, and Smith, the MVP from the Super Bowl. Each had offseason surgery, so has yet to play in the preseason.

Quinn still won’t have middle linebacker and two-time leading tackler Bobby Wagner, who remains out with a sore hamstring; and strong-side linebacker Bruce Irvin, who remains on the physically unable to perform list after having offseason hip surgery.

But whoever plays, and for how long, Carroll knows what he needs to see from the starters on Friday night.

“I just want guys to play,” he said. “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.”