Saturday, September 3, 2011
Three things revisited: Seahawks-Raiders
By Mike Sando
Looking back upon three things discussed here heading into the Seattle Seahawks' 20-3 victory over the Oakland Raiders in the preseason finale Friday night at CenturyLink Stadium:
1. Pass protection: The Seahawks made clear progress in this area against a Raiders defense that finished the preseason without a first-quarter sack. Right tackle James Carpenter played the first two series, then came back into the game to clear the way for a short scoring run. Carpenter played extensively in the second half as well. His power was apparent on the touchdown run, a play Carpenter punctuated by standing over his fallen opponent. A false-start penalty was the only glaring negative for Carpenter, who should gain confidence from this game. Backup Breno Giacomini also appeared to play well. I'd expect Carpenter to open the season as the starter and hit stride somewhere around midseason. Seattle can help him with a tight end or running back in protection as needed, particularly if left tackle Russell Okung returns from injury, as expected.
2. Golden opportunity: Second-year receiver Golden Tate needed and got a confidence boost with easily his best performance of the 2011 preseason. Tate caught five passes for 79 yards, including a 43-yarder from Tarvaris Jackson. He had a 34-yard kickoff return and a 43-yard punt return. The Seahawks wanted to get Tate going in this game with an eye toward speeding his development, which suffered from a coaching change and lockout. With Tate involved early, Jackson and the first-team offense moved the ball effectively. Tate did not appear at fault on the intercepted pass Jackson threw for him in the end zone on the Seahawks' opening drive.
3. Young defensive players: It's looking like first-year cornerback Brandon Browner, a 27-year-old prospect from the CFL, could be the best option at right cornerback heading into the regular season. Second-year corner Walter Thurmond has made strides physically since last season, but he's still shaking off rust after missing stretches due to an injury during camp. He even muffed a punt Friday night. Browner continues to cover well despite his 6-foot-4 frame. Thurmond is the better nickel option and would move inside on passing downs even if he were starting. Safety Mark LeGree, possibly battling fellow rookie Jeron Johnson for a roster spot, might have scored had he held onto a near-interception late in the game. Johnson showed up with a tackle for loss and pass breakup. Seattle could have at least three undrafted free agents earn spots on the initial 53-man roster (Johnson, receiver Doug Baldwin and quarterback Josh Portis).