OAKLAND -- All but one of Seattle's defensive starters left Thursday's game against the Raiders after the first possession, something that was to be expected in the preseason finale. The early exit from the Seahawks' starting unit meant more playing time for young players looking to make an impact before Saturday's NFL-mandated roster cutdown from 75 to 53 players, and in the team's 23-21 win, several of those players impressed, which made for a "really fun" evening in head coach Pete Carroll's eyes.
"You talk about the game in the locker room and all of the names are all the young guys making all the plays," Carroll said. "It was really fun to be able to recognize them and point out how they contributed to a win today."
While offensive rookies like running backs Troymaine Pope (eight carries, 52 yards, TD, and 107 kick return yards) and Alex Collins (nine carries, 40 yards, TD) had nice showings in the final exhibition, Carroll's above comments came on the heels of positive remarks for young players on the defensive side of the football, namely, rookie linebacker Kache Palacio and fourth-year defensive end Ryan Robinson.
Palacio, who went undrafted out of Washington State University and signed with Seattle in early August after the team's training camp was already underway, finished Thursday's game against the Raiders with six tackles, including one for loss, and also recorded a forced fumble that he recovered himself. Palacio saw time at fullback for the Seahawks earlier this preseason, but has done "a nice job" at various linebacker spots, Carroll said.
"Big play, yeah, huge play," Carroll said of Palacio's fourth-quarter turnover. "He's done a nice job. He's kind of come out of nowhere. We got him kind of late and he jumped on the scene, showed flexibility to play different positions, he'd always been an outside backer, he played inside for us as we needed him to. Worked hard on special teams. Huge play tonight."
Added Palacio: "Get the ball back. That's what we preach at practice all the time, all the coaches, players. We preach get the ball back, and that's what went through my mind."
Palacio, who left Wazzu with 16 career sacks, a number that ranks 10th all-time at the school, said he has learned "a lot" about the linebacker position since joining the Seahawks, taking notes from players like Brock Coyle, Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright, and coaches Michael Barrow and Lofa Tatupu.
"It's been a work in progress at this position," Palacio said. "Being around a great group of guys that have been helping me the most."
Robinson, meanwhile, finished the Seahawks' final preseason game with a pair of tackles and a pick-six that Carroll called "an enormous play." As linebacker Eric Pinkins brought quarterback pressure in the fourth quarter, Robinson got hold of a throw from Raiders quarterback Connor Cook and returned it 42 yards for a score, giving the Seahawks their first lead of the night, and one they would not relinquish.
"We do all those 'Turnover Thursdays,'" Robinson said. "And they really paid off."
For Robinson, the score was extra special because of the way last season went, when he suffered an Achilles injury during the Seahawks' offseason program and was forced to spend the year on injured reserve.
"It felt really good," Robinson said. "I felt like I had a slow start coming off an injury, haven't played in a long time, a year. Just finishing out strong is the best part.
"My family always tells me it's not how you start, but it's how you finish."
Robinson, Palacio and the rest of the Seahawks found a way to finish strong Thursday, a day that will serve as a final resume builder for several NFL players around the League as teams head into a weekend full of difficult roster decisions.
"We tried to do our best tonight and finish the game like coach asked us to do, and we did that," Robinson said. "Us young guys, we have something to prove and we just wanted to prove that to the coaching staff."
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Game action photos from the Seahawks' preseason finale against the Oakland Raiders.