Three Things We Learned from Seahawks Coach Pete Carroll Ahead of Thursday's Preseason Finale vs Oakland Raiders

Key takeaways from Pete Carroll before Thursday's game against the Oakland Raiders.

Pete Carroll met with the press following Tuesday's practice at Renton's Virginia Mason Athletic Center in what will be his only media availability ahead of Thursday night's preseason finale against the Oakland Raiders at Seattle's CenturyLink Field.

Here's three things we learned from the Seahawks head coach:

1. The Seahawks "Really Care A Lot About" Christine Michael

With today's news that running back Robert Turbin suffered a high-ankle sprain against the San Diego Chargers, an injury that prompted a visit with former Buffalo Bills running back Fred Jackson, third-year running back Christine Michael's status was a topic of discussion.

No timeline has been given yet for Turbin's return, with Carroll saying the team will see how Turbin's ankle responds in the next couple of days. Depending on Turbin's health and whether or not the club chooses to sign the veteran Jackson after today's visit, Michael could find himself factoring into the Seahawks offense more moving forward.

"He's very explosive," Carroll said. "He reported in great shape as I said a while back, and allowed himself to really take advantage of being ready every day. He's worked really hard. He's had a very, very good camp."

Twenty-nine of Michael's team-high 37 yards rushing against the Chargers this past Saturday came on one play. It was an effort that stood out in the Seattle head coach's assessment of the game film.

"He showed you a play last week that he broke and went out the back door of a power play," Carroll said. "That cut doesn't happen that much in football. It's rare that a guy sees that. He took advantage of it and made it a big play for us, and set us up in the red zone."

Since his selection as Seattle's first pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, Carroll said Michael has gradually gained the trust of the Seahawks coaching staff. Carroll did admit that Michael will still take chances on the field trying to get the offense out of trouble that end up hurting the team instead, but insisted Michael still has "a lot of potential to make things happen."

"He's grown with us, and continues to be a guy that we really care a lot about," said Carroll. "We try to figure out how to utilize him at his very best, and so we'll continue doing that."

2. What Makes Michael Bennett So Special

Defensive end Michael Bennett led the Seahawks with 7.0 sacks and 11 tackles for loss last year. He has the ability to play every position along the defensive line for the Seahawks and has found success rushing the passer from both the outside and inside. Carroll had a lengthy response when asked to name one thing Bennett does well that the untrained-eye might not see.

"He's such an instinctive football player that he has really tremendous sense," Carroll began. "He's really much like [Richard Sherman] at corner that they see things that other people don't see and they can anticipate things that other people don't pick up the cues on and they're able to take advantage that. Some guys can see it coming, but they don't know what to do. Both these guys are just natural ball guys that have the savvy and the instinct that allows them to make plays that other people don't. Michael will sense things and he'll be able to penetrate, or maybe slip a block, that other people wouldn't realize it's the time to do it. He's got great knack for it.

"He's not the biggest or the strongest or the fastest," Carroll added of the 6-foot-4, 272-pound Bennett who often goes toe-to-toe with 300-plus pound offensive linemen. "He's just really, really good at what he does and the fact that he has such an intensity about him - he plays so hard - allows him to show up like that. He's a very unique football player."

But Carroll said Bennett's unique ability doesn't allow him to go off-script, or "freelance" too often.

"We count on him to make the plays that he makes, so we move him around to different positions and ask him to do things that put him in position to take advantage of that more so. I don't think of it in terms of freelancing as much as taking advantage of the opportunities. I think Sherman, he's another guy that's very much like that as well.

"It's not guessing. They don't guess. They react quicker and more readily than other players do."

3. Who Will Play On Thursday Night

Though he's expected to be ready for the regular-season opener, Carroll said free safety Earl Thomas will not play in Thursday's exhibition finale. Neither will running back Marshawn Lynch. As for the rest of Seattle's No. 1 units? Carroll was pretty ambiguous about the subject.

"They'll play exactly like they will play, and what the plan is in that it's the fourth quarter of the preseason and this is kind of how we're going to do it," Carroll said. "We're going to play these guys like we have planned to, and it has nothing to do with what's happened before."

History tells us the starters won't play too much on Thursday night against the Oakland Raiders, with this past week's game against the Chargers likely being the group's most-extensive action of preseason. Carroll did drop a few names of players who should see plenty of snaps in the Seattle secondary, including cornerbacks Tharold Simon, Mohammed Seisay, and Will Blackmon, as well as the team's young safeties vying for play time.

"It's kind of a big game for Tharold Simon to show where he is," Carroll said. "He had a very good first game. It'll be a very big game for Mohammed Seisay to get a chance to play finally, he's been banged up. Will Blackmon will play a good deal. These guys are going to get some really significant play time. Of course, the safeties, too."

Between Oakland quarterbacks Derek Carr, Matt McGloin, and Christian Ponder, the Raiders offense threw the ball 54 times last week, an approach that should allow the Seahawks coaching staff plenty of opportunities to evaluate what they have behind their starters in the 'Legion of Boom.'

"They're spreading the ball around quite a bit," said Carroll. "They have a variety of things that they do that will challenge our guys. It will be a good look for us."

Extra Points

  • With the preseason finale set for 7 p.m. PT on Thursday at CenturyLink Field, Carroll said the team is using the short week to prepare as they will when they go from a Sunday game in Week 6 against the Carolina Panthers to a Thursday game in Week 7 against the San Francisco 49ers, "We have this Thursday night game coming up during the season, so we're kind of using this as a model for the week and hopefully we can learn and be prepared for that when the time comes."
  • On Monday's trade of wide receiver Kevin Norwood to the Carolina Panthers for an undisclosed conditional 2017 draft pick, Carroll said, "They came after him and so we made him available. We thought it was worthwhile."
  • "No," was what Carroll offered when asked if there was anything new to relay on the status of strong safety Kam Chancellor, who has yet to report to team headquarters.

RELATED

Due to the shortened week, the team doubled up on a Tuesday practice of preseason week four with the themes of "Competition Wednesday" and "Turnover Thursday". 

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