Friday, September 2, 2011
Three things: Seahawks-Raiders
By Mike Sando
Three things to watch for in the Seattle Seahawks' preseason home game against the Oakland Raiders at 10 p.m. ET:
1. Pass protection: The Seahawks want their offensive line to make strides in preparation for the regular-season opener at San Francisco. Starting quarterback Tarvaris Jackson has taken seven sacks and avoided several others. The pressure has played a role in his 3.8-yard average per attempt. The Raiders have only four sacks through three exhibition games, including zero in first quarters and only one in first halves. Opposing quarterbacks are averaging a healthy 7.9 yards per attempt against Oakland overall. The 49ers' Alex Smith, under siege against New Orleans and Houston this preseason, completed 8 of 13 passes for 136 yards with no sacks when facing the Raiders. The Seahawks will remain without starting left tackle Russell Okung, their best lineman. But they should still expect improvement in pass protection against this opponent. Right tackles James Carpenter and Breno Giacomini are in the spotlight for this game.
2. Golden opportunity: Lame cliched lead-in, I know, but at least it's an accurate one. Receiver Golden Tate should expect to play more reps than usual. Seattle is missing a few receivers to injury in this game. The team would like to accelerate Tate's development following a condensed offseason. Tate, chosen in the second round of the 2010 draft, has four receptions for 24 yards to this point in the exhibition season. He dropped a pass against Minnesota, leading to a turnover. Tate does not appear to be fighting for a roster spot, but neither has there been signs he's going to factor into the offense as much as coach Pete Carroll has said he expects.
3. Young defensive players. Wait, that covers pretty much everyone, come to think of it. Linebacker Malcolm Smith, linebacker K.J. Wright and free safety Mark LeGree are the youngest players on the Seahawks' defensive roster. Safety Jeron Johnson and cornerback Richard Sherman aren't far behind. I'll be attending this game and hope to get a better feel for the young depth on defense, to the extent that is possible in a fourth preseason game. Oh, and there are five Seattle defenders in their 30s: Raheem Brock, Junior Siavii, Colin Cole, Marcus Trufant and Jimmy Wilkerson. Only one, Trufant, starts.