Seahawks vs. Broncos: What to watch for in first preseason game

Ted S. Warren / Associated Press

After having over six months to reflect on a crushing Super Bowl loss, the Seattle Seahawks are finally ready to get back on the field.

The Seahawks will open up their preseason slate when they host the Denver Broncos on Friday night. While the starters won’t play much for more than a series or two, preseason games offer a clear step up in intensity from training camp or scrimmages.

Pete Carroll and company will have plenty of roster decisions to make by the end of the four-game preseason schedule. Seattle’s strong drafting has led to a roster crunch in recent seasons, and quite a few talented players have been left off the final 53-man team.

This season, the Seahawks also have a couple of starting spots that aren’t finalized heading into the preseason, including two on the offensive line. While the first preseason game is only an initial step towards resolving those battles, Friday night should provide a few insights.

What does the offensive line look like?

All eyes will be on the offensive line on Friday and for the rest of the preseason. No matter who wins out, Seattle will have two new starters after the departures of Max Unger and James Carpenter.

A starter has not been named at left guard yet, although it seems likely that Alvin Bailey will get the reps with the first team. Bailey showed impressive flashes of ability as a backup last year, and it will be interesting to see him in game action after he lost about 30 pounds over the offseason.

The situation at center is the biggest question mark on the team, and it’s unclear who the Seahawks are going to start tomorrow. Lemuel Jeanpierre‘s experience is helping him pick up assignments faster and might make him a slight favorite, but the Seahawks are giving Drew Nowak an extended look.

Seattle reportedly likes the upside, athleticism and youth Nowak can offer. Nowak has very little game experience, so the preseason will be critical for him.

Offensive line benefits from continuity the most out of any position, so it will be important to see how the unit plays together on Friday. The backups could also have an opportunity to move up the depth chart this season, so the second and third string will be worth keeping an eye on.

Christine Michael vs. Thomas Rawls

It’s very unlikely that Marshawn Lynch will make an appearance in the game. Robert Turbin is coming off of major hip surgery and will probably only get a few snaps at most.

That means Michael and Rawls will both be featured prominently. This wasn’t expected to be much of a roster battle heading into OTAs and training camp, but the coaching staff has raved about Rawls all offseason. Of all of Seattle’s undrafted free agents, Rawls has the best chance to make the roster.

Michael has the type of explosive athleticism that few can match. However, he has failed to make much of an impression his first two years in the leauge despite getting a number of opportunites, inlcuding during this offseason.

At 5-9, 215 pounds, Rawls is a powerful and physical runner. He will have to show he has enough speed to make it in the NFL this preseason.

Can Dion Bailey secure a roster spot?

With Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas out, the depth chart at safety has been wide open during training camp. After missing the first few days with injury, Bailey has turned heads and emerged as the star of training camp.

It looks like DeShawn Shead and Steven Terrell will be the starters at safety for now. Bailey is steadily getting more playing time, and the Seahawks have moved him around a bit, which could help him ease into a nickel safety role on Friday.

If Bailey can turn in a strong performance, he could be playing with the first string come the second preseason game. Bailey doesn’t have much more left to do to at least secure a spot on the 53-man roster.

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Nathaniel Reeves

Nathaniel Reeves is a journalism student at the University of Washington, currently covering sports for The UW Daily in addition to Sports Out West. He has been closely following Seattle sports his entire life.


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