Corbin Smith

Seahawks vs. Broncos Preseason Primer

Created on Aug. 06, 2014 5:53 PM EST

After nearly two weeks of training camp, the Seattle Seahawks will finally get the opportunity to hit someone else when they take the field against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field on Thursday night.

While quarterback Russell Wilson and other starters won’t see many snaps tomorrow night, the first preseason contest will hold great importance for rookies getting their first taste of NFL action and reserves who are hoping to stick around past the first wave of roster cuts. With Pro Bowl talents
Bobby Wagner, Kam Chancellor, and Marshawn Lynch unlikely to suit up, young players like linebacker Brock Coyle will need to take advantage of extended playing time to leave a positive impression on Seattle’s coaching staff.

As head coach Pete Carroll eluded to during his press conference following Wednesday’s walkthrough practice, this regime has “historically leaned on our young guys” during preseason games and both the staff and veteran players are excited to cheer them on against the Broncos.

“These guys have dreamed their whole life of being in the NFL and having a chance to play. Here it is.” Carroll said, adding, “So we’ll kind of dedicate this night tonight and the game tomorrow to these young guys playing in their first NFL game.”

The game doesn’t officially count in the standings, but Thursday still holds great significance for the vast majority of Seattle’s current 90 man roster. A strong performance could mean the difference between making the opening day roster and receiving a pink slip at the 70 man roster cut. Here’s a look at three burning questions to keep an eye on tomorrow night:

1. Which quarterback will take control in the race to back up Wilson?
Veteran Tarvaris Jackson enters tomorrow’s game listed as second on the depth chart at quarterback for the Seahawks, but he needs to continue to prove himself during the preseason to hold off dual-threat talent Terrelle Pryor. Pryor, who joined Seattle via trade with the Oakland Raiders this summer, has been erratic at times during camp thus far, but he’s easily the most athletic quarterback on the roster and has shown signs of improvement as a passer. Jackson still holds the edge because of his familiarity with Darrell Bevell’s offensive system and the respect many other veterans have towards him, but if he slips up and Pryor outperforms him during these next few exhibition games, it will make Carroll’s decision much tougher.

2. How does Coyle hold up with the first team defense replacing Wagner?
Carroll has been highly complimentary of Coyle, who signed with the Seahawks shortly after the conclusion of the NFL Draft. Wagner suffered a hamstring injury during the first week of training camp and has been inactive ever since, providing a great opportunity for the former Montana star to earn his stripes. His great work ethic has been on display early, as he has studied nightly to learn the playbook and become comfortable with his assignments at middle linebacker. He will get the start in place of Wagner against Denver, and unlike most of the other starters, he should continue to see the field with the second team defense as well. Undrafted players have excelled in Seattle, and if he can translate his strong performances in practice into in-game production, he could easily join the likes of Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse as key undrafted contributors for this football team.

3. How will Seattle split up the carries in the backfield?
Unofficial depth charts this early in the preseason mean little, but I did find it intriguing that Robert Turbin still sits ahead of Christine Michael in the running back pecking order. There’s no denying that Michael has more untapped potential than Turbin, but lingering questions about his ability in pass protection and his lack of patience as a runner in Tom Cable’s zone blocking scheme continue to hamper him. While not near as athletic, Turbin does a better job attacking the hole when running the football and he holds a significant edge over Michael as a blocker.

I still believe Michael will be Lynch’s primary backup when the season starts next month, but don’t count out Turbin just yet. He looks quicker after undergoing a knee procedure this offseason and Wilson may be more comfortable with him on the field at this point. This will be a fun race to watch unfold over the next few exhibition games.
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