The Seattle Seahawks saw their preseason winning streak end with a 19-17 loss to the Indianapolis Colts. Most of Seattle’s stars were out of the game by the end of the first quarter, leaving a multitude of rookies to run the show.
It’s hard to read too far into preseason games, but there were still plenty of takeaways from Seattle’s first game of the year.
Seattle’s rookie defensive players balled out
Shaquem Griffin led the Seahawks with nine combined tackles and was a force all over the field filling in for K.J. Wright. Rasheem Green had 1.5 sacks and six combined tackles, and fellow edge rusher Jacob Martin had a half-sack and three tackles.
Griffin is expected to contribute primarily on special teams this season but will get a look on the defense if Wright needs any time off. Green and Martin give Seattle much-needed depth on the edge now that Michael Bennett, Cliff Avril and Sheldon Richardson are gone.
J.D. McKissic looked good returning kicks
Tyler Lockett was given the day off as a kick returner, handing McKissic, a running back, a chance to show off his skills. McKissic returned two kicks for 59 total yards, a 30-yarder and a 29-yarder. He was somewhat upstaged by fellow returner Cyril Grayson, who had an electric 50-yard return that was negated by a holding penalty.
Ultimately, Lockett is the expected return man for Seattle next year. If he gets hurt, however, look for McKissic to take over as Seattle’s primary returner.
Nick Vannett had Seattle’s lone touchdown
Vannett ran with the first-teamers on Thursday and was targeted a game-high three times. He hauled in two receptions, a 15-yard gain followed quickly by a five-yard touchdown reception.
Vannett was labeled by coach Pete Carroll as a strong pass-catcher, an attribute that is not shared by fellow tight ends Ed Dickson and Will Dissly. His advanced knowledge of the system could allow him to sneak into the starting role, particularly if Dickson remains sidelined.
Injuries hurt depth on offensive line
The Seahawks saw two tackles go down with injuries on Thursday, with Jamarco Jones (lower leg) and Isaiah Battle (knee) leaving the game. Although the extent of their injuries is unknown, that thins the competition at right tackle, where incumbent Germain Ifedi has struggled. The only penalty on the starting line didn’t belong to Ifedi however — new guard D.J. Fluker was flagged in the first quarter.
Seattle started the day with their typical front: Ifedi, Fluker, Duane Brown, Ethan Pocic and Justin Britt. Unless something changes, that is expected to be who Seattle runs with in Week 1.
Kicker battles continue
The Seahawks are hosting competitions for their kicker and punter positions. At the punting spot, both Jon Ryan and Michael Dickson showed off impressive legs. Dickson booted a ball a staggering 61 yards, with an unusual spin on it that caused returner Nyheim Hines to drop the ball. Dickson’s punting style is what attracted Seattle to him in the first place, so seeing him utilize it in the game is a good sign for the rookie.
Ryan punted three times for 139 yards, an average of 46.3 yards per punt. Dickson averaged 150 yards on his three punts, good for a 50-yard average. Dickson also showed off his drop kick on a kickoff that was intended to be an onside kick.
Carroll has not given any indication which player will be Seattle’s punter come Week 1, but the Seahawks could save $2.3 million in cap space if they cut Ryan.
At kicker, Jason Myers hit Seattle’s only field goal of the day – a 43 yarder in the third quarter. Sebastian Janikowski drilled both of Seattle’s extra points, and the players split kickoff duties. Again, Seattle has not made it clear which player they are favoring, although Janikowski’s extensive experience could give him the edge.