The Seahawks didn't get the result they wanted out of Thursday night's preseason game, an eventual 18-11 loss to the Minnesota Vikings, but one area in particular that was encouraging to head coach Pete Carroll was the way his team played at the line of scrimmage in the running game, both on offense and defense.
Carroll would have liked to see a little bit more out of the pass rush, and regardless of who was to blame, four first-half sacks isn't a good look for the offense, but averaging 6.0 yards-per-carry while holding the Vikings—albeit without star back Adrian Peterson—to 2.7 yards-per-carry was something to build on for Seattle.
"I thought that was very well done," Carroll said. "I thought we fit the running game like we want to, and we played very tough at the line of scrimmage. We didn't quite rush as much as we like, and we missed a couple of pressures. The good fundamentals at the line of scrimmage is what we count on looking for and seeing, and we did."
Perhaps most encouraging for Seattle is that the offense, which is still missing Thomas Rawls and rookie C.J. Prosise, rushed for 70 yards on 14 carries (5.0 yards-per-carry) in the first half when a very good Vikings starting defense was in the game. Christine Michael continued his strong summer with 55 yards on 10 first-half carries, yet another indicator that he is poised to build off of his strong finish to last season.
"Man, he's really running," quarterback Russell Wilson said. "And the backs are really impressive. It's impressive to see Christine Michael running the ball the way he is. He is running very physical, running with speed, hitting the edge, makes the right cut at the right time. I'm excited for Rawls to get back here soon. I know everyone here is excited for Rawls to get back… All the running backs, we have a big stable of running backs right now. So, the next two weeks are going to be big."
Still, early success notwithstanding, Michael and his fellow backs see room for improvement going forward.
"It feels good," Michael said. "The running game is going well. But like the coaches say, you've got to be a football player without the ball in your hands. We've got to pick up blocks better, we've got to catch the ball when you get the opportunity. We've got to be complete backs to help Russell Wilson and the offense."
The Seahawks continued to be strong in the ground game with their backups playing in the second half. Leading the way was undrafted rookie Troymaine Pope, who rushed for 86 yards and Seattle's only touchdown on 10 second-half carries.
"I was really happy with the way we ran the football," Carroll said. "Christine ran for 50-something yards in the first half, we were averaging over 5 yards-per-carry and we rushed for a lot of yards tonight, that's a really good sign."
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Check out some photos from Preseason Week 2: Seattle Seahawks vs. Minnesota Vikings at CenturyLink Field.