Saturday, August 20, 2011
Three things: Seahawks-Vikings
By Mike Sando
Three things to watch for in the Seattle Seahawks' preseason game against the Minnesota Vikings on Saturday night at 10 p.m. ET:
1. Tarvaris' timing: The Seahawks expect starting quarterback Tarvaris Jackson to play more extensively than he did during the preseason opener. Jackson should be sharper after having a second week of practice time with his new team. He'll also have starting receivers Sidney Rice and Mike Williams on the field with him, a change from last week. Seattle will be looking for Jackson to establish connections with Rice, Williams and/or tight end Zach Miller. Jackson has been around long enough to know preseason games aren't all that important, but human nature dictates he'll want to look good against his former team.
2. Red Bryant's return. The Seahawks' run defense wasn't the same after a knee injury removed Bryant from the defensive line last season. Teams around the division noticed. I was chatting with a coach from another NFC West team this summer when our attention turned to Seattle's defensive line. "Red Bryant is a huge man," the coach said with some awe. Bryant missed the preseason opener, but the Seahawks expect him to start at defensive end against the Vikings. Bryant appears ready to go. Coach Pete Carroll on Thursday: "Yeah, Red’s antics were up today. He was having fun playing football. I think when he tackled Dominique Byrd about 25 yards downfield in a full-speed, live tackle, we realized that Red was officially back. That came just two plays after he thumped Josh Portis in the back on a pass rush, so Red is alive and well. When you’re cooling Red down, that’s when you like him the most."
3. Pass protection. Russell Okung's unavailability at left tackle pushes Tyler Polumbus into the lineup. Polumbus has continually exceeded expectations. He's been quite steady for a backup at such a difficult position. I'm more interested in seeing how right guard John Moffitt and right tackle James Carpenter fare in pass protection. Both are rookies. Both had some issues in protection during the preseason opener. Carpenter's conditioning appeared to be his biggest obstacle last week. He wore down. The Seahawks will need 60 minutes from him every week during the regular season. Wearing down isn't a viable option.