In a couple of hours, the Seattle Seahawks will square off against the Denver Broncos at Qwest Field. Although it is the second exhibition game for Seattle, it will be the home opener for 2009 preseason.
The Seahawks host the Denver Broncos, an old division rival from Seattle’s days in the AFC West. Although it is only the preseason, it would be nice to see the Seahawks apply a beating to their old division adversary.
Seattle, already without star players Walter Jones and Marcus Trufant, could be without Julius Jones (leg) or Aaron Curry (groin) as well. Both players have missed practice time with minor injuries.
The rest of the starters should see ample playing time; head coach Jim Mora plans to play his starters for almost the entire first half.
Denver, a team in obvious rebuilding, has been projected by many analysts to finish near the bottom of the AFC West. This comes as good news for Seattle (relatively), because the Seahawks own Denver’s 2010 natural first-round draft choice.
In addition to Denver’s overall lack of talent, they’ll be without a couple of marquee players tonight. Wide receiver Brandon Marshall did not travel to Seattle and will be absent from tonight’s game. The Broncos will also be without running back Knowshon Moreno (one of Denver’s two first-round selections in 2009), wide receiver Brandon Lloyd, and safety Brian Dawkins.
The Seahawks are three point favorites, and I expect their starters to perform very well tonight. Of course, the major goal of any exhibition game is to get repetitions and remain healthy – a win is a plus, but even the Detroit Lions won preseason games last season.
WHAT TO WATCH: Of course, the offensive line will be the target of many eyes tonight. After Walter Jones’ reported arthroscopic knee surgery, the unit will again be without one of the greatest football players of all time. Jones will be out for at least another month, and tonight’s game will feature the starting lineup that we should expect in the regular season opener.
Keep a sharp eye on left tackle Sean Locklear; he’ll not only attempt to once again fill the void left by Jones, but he is responsible for protecting Matt Hasselbeck’s backside. Hasselbeck must remain healthy if the Seahawks expect to compete this season, and Locklear will play a huge role in reducing the amount of big hits absorbed by the aging quarterback.
The right side of the line is worth watching as well. The right guard position is up for grabs, and Mansfield Wrotto will be competing against rookie Max Unger for the spot. Unger’s athleticism and versatility was on display last week in San Diego while Wrotto sat out with a minor injury (bruise). At right tackle, Ray Willis will continue to maul opposing defenders and demonstrate his prowess in the running game.
FUN TO WATCH: After last week’s performance, defensive end Nick Reed is the player that should be fun to watch against Denver.
The undersized lineman (6’1”, 247 pounds) recorded a sack and an interception against the Chargers, and provided consistent pressure off the edge against San Diego’s reserves. His interception came off a play where Reed made a beautiful read on a screen play to the opposing half-back; Reed initially provided pressure, but then following the pulling linemen and stepped in front of an errant pass intended for the back.
Nick Reed is a player who wasn’t even invited to the NFL Combine because of his size, despite recorded 13 sacks his senior year at Oregon against Pac-10 competition. The Seahawks took a chance on Reed late in the seventh round of last April’s draft, and now he is proving himself worthy of an NFL roster spot.
Nick Reed proved last week that size is no match for determination and energy, and hopefully he’ll have the opportunity to showcase his skills for fans at Qwest Field again tonight.
PREDICTION: The Seahawks should be victorious against the Broncos at Qwest Field. The 12th Man will leave the stadium tonight happy with the results.
Denver 13, Seattle 24
UPDATE (7:00 PM): Linebacker Aaron Curry and wide receiver Nate Burleson will not play in tonight’s game against Denver.