The inclination for a lot of people is to believe the final NFL preseason game is a fruitless but necessary task, with the hopes that no starters get hurt.
But for 20-something Seattle Seahawks on the bubble of making the final roster, Friday's 7 p.m. game at Qwest Field against the Oakland Raiders this game means everything.
Kent is just one member of the band of young wide receivers fighting it out for a finite number of spots on the roster, with Deion Branch and Doug Baldwin both guaranteed to be on the roster but unable to play at this time battling back from injuries. The tough numbers game for a spot doesn't stop at wide receiver either. There is sensory overload for the staff to decide how to break down the running backs, the defensive tackles and defensive line as well.
"You appreciate how hard they've worked ... all of them. You know how important it is to them, the dreams of the guys. So it's absolutely important that we are fair and honest with them and hope we make the right decision. It's very difficult. They're all good guys, and they've worked very hard for this. But we have to do this. We have to get down to 53."
Just a few stalls away from Kent stood Logan Payne, also a second-year wide receiver, fielding questions. Like Kent, he is straddling the bubble. The difference is Payne cracked a rib in the intrasquad scrimmage before the preseason even began. He sat out the first game at Minnesota, ironically where he played college ball for the Gophers only because the medical staff didn't let him play.
But he did play against Chicago and San Diego and he's still tied for second on the team with five receptions - trailing Kent, who has nine catches and two touchdowns. Not only was the rib injury tough luck, but Payne has also found himself hung out to dry on some passes, and caught in a lot of awkward situations. It's kind of like a batter hitting line drives only to find them right at somebody.
"That happens ... that's football," Payne said. "The quarterbacks are good, but they're going to put you out there every once in awhile. It was just unfortunate. It's in the preseason. I'm in the situation I'm in. I'm not making excuses. I'm going to have opportunities this next game. I've had a lot of opportunities to make plays in practice, so I'm just going to look forward to it.
If it was up to me I would have been out there the next day (after the cracked rib). I would have played in the Vikings game. They didn't think that was the best thing, so they held me out. As soon as I could get back out there, I got back out there."
Starting quarterback Matt Hasselbeck will not play, while backup Seneca Wallace has been brought back slowly with a strained groin and third string quarterback Charlie Frye was superb against San Diego until he suffered a bruised knee. Sure, the Seahawks would like to entertain the home fans with a win - that's the case with every game.
But they also aren't about to risk losing starters that may be marginally injured, and really this game comes down to solidifying the final 53.
"It's a pretty normal thing," Holmgren said. "The fourth game, we've approached it a certain way the last few years. We'll do the same thing this time. But because of the roster decisions we have to make, it's probably a good thing, because there are depth positions and guys that still...it's too close to call. Because it's so close, if someone were to have a really good football game, it would probably weigh the decision in that person's favor."
"But for the guys like Hasselbeck and for the guys that have been nicked up a little bit, (sitting out) helps. We have the rest of this week, really, and I'm going to give the players the weekend off after the game, and then we'll come and we'll have a normal practice week next week."
With whomever the 53 plus-8 may be.
Seahawks president Tim Ruskell on the level of competition during this training camp:
"We looked at it and there's a scenario where we could have 17 people from the last two drafts and free agency make our football team. That's a tribute to the job our personnel department has been doing and that's a lot of new people challenging some guys that have been here for awhile."
This and that
The cuts must be made by 3 p.m. (PT) Saturday. And Sunday, the Seahawks will be able to sign as many as eight players to the practice squad. Those players, however, are vulnerable to be signed to another 53-man roster at any time. ... Going into the final game, rookie running back Justin Forsett leads the team in rushing with 203 yards - averaging 6.3 yards on his 32 carries; followed by Maurice Morris with 100 yards on 15 carries. T.J. Duckett has rushed 25 times for 82 yards (3.30) with a touchdown and Julius Jones has carried the ball 19 times for 77 yards (4.1). Remember, they have all entered the game at different times, varying which offensive line they're playing with and what level defense they're playing against. ... Jordan Kent has a pair of touchdown receptions in the team-high nine balls he's caught, while Michael Bumpus, Jeb Putzier, John Carlson and Logan Payne each have five. Charlie Frye has completed 41-of-67 passes for 450 yards with two touchdown passes, three interceptions and a quarterback rating of 72.4. ... The Seahawks open the regular season at Buffalo on Sept. 7, followed by successive Sunday's at home against NFC West rivals San Francisco and St. Louis, and the bye week. The next road game isn't until Oct. 5 at New York against the Super Bowl champion Giants.