Seattle opened the 2009 Preseason on Saturday night with a 20-14 win down in San Diego. Though the first units weren’t spectacular, we all need to remember that the Chargers are a very competitive squad, and it was only an exhibition game – the first one of the season.
The good news, however, is that the Seahawks were winners on Saturday. Wins and losses don’t matter much in exhibition games, but wins usually equate to better individual performances on the field. Such was the case on Saturday, where quite a few players showcased unique talents and played well.
Here is a quick rundown of the good, bad, and ugly performances from Saturday’s game:
Nick Reed: Reed played extremely well Saturday night, and once again proved that he won’t be hindered by his smaller physique. His work ethic and ingenuity made for a great night, which included a sack and an interception. When Reed was rushing the passer, he consistently appeared relentless coming off the edge, and played much larger while on the field.
Max Unger: Many folks have criticized Unger for his poor play, but I disagree; Unger played well in his first action as a professional, and displayed his unique versatility and ability. He held his own against larger opposing linemen (though he was overmatched at times), and played well throughout the game. Unger started at the right guard position, and played most of the second half as center. His versatility and athleticism could prove valuable should Seattle continue to endure injuries along the offensive line.
Brandon Mebane: Mebane showed us why many claim he is the most underrated player in the National Football League. While on defense, he consistently drew double teams and was a disruptive force in the middle. The attention he drew led to additional pressure on the quarterback, and even resulted in a Cory Redding sack early in the game. Paired with Cole, the middle of the defensive line should be solid and fun to watch throughout the season.
Aaron Curry: Because of Curry’s absence early on in training camp, it was questionable whether or not Curry would play against San Diego. He started, however, and showed why he was the best prospect available in the 2009 NFL Draft. Though his statistics weren’t overwhelming, Curry showed good burst and athleticism on the field, and even lined up a couple of times at defensive end. He is fast, quick to the ball, and hastily shoots gaps. Curry will only get better with more experience; it was obvious he was doing a lot more thinking than reacting on Saturday.
Michael Bennett: Defensive end? Defensive tackle? Bennett appears to have the size and quickness to play either position, and was a force against San Diego reserves on Saturday. As an undrafted free agent from Texas A&M, Bennett will have a difficult time finding a roster spot, but should be fun to watch throughout the remainder of the Preseason. He recorded one sack against the Chargers.
Mike Teel: Mike Teel played a good amount in the second half, and proved that he is capable of making all of the NFL throws. Although his accuracy was suspect at times, he connected with Mike Hass for an 18-yard touchdown that kept Seattle ahead for good. He needs to tighten his spiral and improve his accuracy a bit, but I wasn’t disappointed in his overall performance on Saturday.
Brandon Coutu: Coutu proved his value as a kicker, and connected on a pair of 38-yard field goals against San Diego. His kickoffs, however, were below average at best. In five kickoffs, he did not record one touchback, and only two of them were fielded inside of the five. Coutu will have to prove he has the extra leg on kickoffs if he plans to surpass Olindo Mare on the depth chart.
Kelly Jennings: Although Jennings did have an interception that was a result of an erroneous slant route by a San Diego receiver, his play during the rest of the game was subpar. Far too reminiscent of last season, Jennings was consistently beaten by bigger receivers and appeared small on the field. Jennings has the quickness and speed to put him in position to make almost every play, but he can never seem to finish.
Kevin Hobbs: Hobbs appeared lost, slow, and overwhelmed on a handful of plays. His shortcomings resulted in several big gains for San Diego. If Hobbs has any hope of making the team, he’ll have to significantly improve his play throughout the rest of the preseason.
Deon Butler: Butler showed some potential, and proved that his speed is superior even at the highest level. He struggled on Saturday, however, and never made the big play that most of us were waiting for. He appeared lost and clueless as a returner (lack of experience was a major factor), and couldn’t make plays as a receiver. He took a huge hit from a San Diego defender that caused him to drop a pass, and finished with only two receptions for seven yards.