Seattle Seahawks

He said / she said – Seattle Seahawks vs. Detroit Lions

usatsi_9767475.jpg
USA Today

He said / she said – Seattle Seahawks vs. Detroit Lions

BY  

Oregon Sports News writers Julian Rogers and Jessica Ridpath discuss and predict the Wild Card matchup between the Seattle Seahawks (10–5–1) and the Detroit Lions (9–7).

When: 5:15 p.m., Saturday, January 7, 2017 Where: CenturyLink Field, Seattle

Rogers: Unless the Seahawks get to play themselves, they could not have gotten a better draw in the Detroit Lions for their first game of the NFL Playoffs. Jess, I kid because I know you’re down on their chances this year.

But look at it this way: The Lions faced only four teams that made the playoffs this season and lost to them five times. (They played Green Bay twice). In early December, the Lions were riding high having squeaked by the woeful Chicago Bears, building a 9–4 record. They haven’t won since.

The Lions dropped three straight to close out the regular season to the New York Giants, the Dallas Cowboys and the Green Bay Packers. If you are concerned about the Seahawks’ momentum, you have to absolutely laugh at the “momentum” of the Lions.

Does that mean they are no threat against the Seahawks on Saturday? I won’t say that. But look at how they are obviously compromised: Ameer Abdullah and Theo Riddick are on injured reserve (their top two running backs). Quarterback Matthew Stafford’s productivity (and the Lions’ win/loss record) has plummeted since he experienced his finger injury on Dec. 11. The Lions’ top cornerback, Darius Slay, only just returned to the lineup (hamstring), but could not offer much impact against the Packers’ passing attack. The Lions’ #2 receiver, Marvin Jones, hasn’t scored a touchdown since Oct. 16 and may be out with a concussion. Old friend Golden Tate only collected four touchdowns all season. Two starting offensive linemen (Riley Reiff and Travis Swanson) missed last week and are questionable this week.

About the only thing the Lions have going well for them at this stage of the season are a not-terrible-but-still-bottom-half defense (18th overall; 18th against the rush, 19th against the pass) and a better-than-the-Seahawks offensive line (still iffy) and an overall offense that is almost parallel to the Seahawks: Lions average 21.6 points per game; Seahawks average 22.1.

Jess, the Lions should have “Playoff Fodder” stamped on their helmets. Does that cheer you up?

Ridpath: Half of my childhood icons are dead, a fascist tyrant is about to become our president, and the two football teams I despise the most are the top contenders for the Super Bowl. I’m afraid a little truth telling about the ho-hum Detroit Lions isn’t quite enough to lift my spirits. But thanks for trying.

I didn’t see much in Seattle’s performance last week to raise my spirits, either. But there were a few visible bright spots (even when viewed through my grumpy glasses):

  • After a slow start, the defense looked like it might be ready for playoff-caliber football—especially league-leading tackler Bobby Wagner, who added 10 tackles and 2 sacks to his collection.
  • Rookie Alex Collins ran the ball for 7.9 yards per carry, the highest average posted by any Seahawk running back in the regular season.
  • Russell Wilson was only sacked once.

Those last two bright spots dim a bit when you consider they were achieved against the league’s worst defense (San Francisco). But I’m still intrigued by Collins’ performance. He’s had a total of 21 carries in three of the Seahawks’ last four games, averaging more than 5 yards per carry. Thomas Rawls, on the other hand, has averaged a mere 1.5 yards per carry in his last three games.

Julian, is Collins’ performance of late enough to earn him a bigger share of the rushing gig in the playoffs?

Rogers: I’ll be surprised if it doesn’t. Rawls just isn’t having success running behind the same line. With this much production and praise from Pete Carroll, I see Collins getting in on the action even sooner than we’ve seen before. He could come in on the second series if Rawls starts off with another couple of nowhere runs.

As I noted above, the Lions have a middling rush defense. They just might get Rawls bounced early, which might not be to their benefit.

One match up I intend to keep my eye on is the way that Lions defensive coordinator Teryl Austin deploys his defensive ends. The Lions have a tendency to go “wide 9” with their defensive ends, meaning they put their outside linemen quite wide — primarily for the purposes of containment against mobile quarterbacks. It didn’t work last week against Green Bay. Aaron Rodgers broke the backs of the Lions with 42 yards on scrambles and designed rushes on 10 attempts (3 of which were kneel-downs for minus-4 yards). That will be a key determinant in this game. If Wilson can use his escapability to similar effect, Seattle should be able to move the ball at will.

Speaking of dreary outlooks for the new year, what are your picks for the NFL’s Wild Card round? Four teams and their fans are going to have their hearts broken this weekend. Here are mine:

Saturday January 7, 2017

Oakland @ Houston — Texans 23, Raiders 20 (Houston has a ridiculously lucky quarterback advantage.)

Sunday January 8, 2017

Miami @ Pittsburgh — Steelers, 30, Dolphins 13 (Pittsburgh’s killer Bs are rested and too good to lose at home.)

Giants @ Green Bay — Packers 30, Giants 27 (Pack scores just enough and exorcises Giants playoffs demons of recent past.)

Usually one home team loses in the Wild Card round. Will it be Seattle?

Ridpath: If any team is going to lose at home in the Wild Card round, it will either be Houston or Seattle. Your predictions for Pittsburgh and Green Bay are right on, IMHO—although I expect the Packers’ victory over the Giants will be a bit more comfortable. Eli Manning’s performance this season has been unimpressive (some might even say “atrocious”), and I don’t see him leading the Giants to 27 points at Lambeau field.

Even though the Raiders have lost two starting quarterbacks to injury in the last two weeks and will likely have to start rookie Connor Cook under center, I don’t think Brock Osweiler and his 72.2 passer rating are really that big of an advantage for the Texans. I’ll give the edge to Houston because of their league-leading defense, but I think this game could go either way.

Which brings me to Seattle. The Seahawks have not lost a playoff game at home in the Carroll-Wilson era … while the Lions have not won a playoff game since 1991. And the last time they won a post-season game on the road? 1957. For real.

Considering these trends, a Seattle victory seems almost certain. But I’m not buying it. I know I’m in the minority here, but I think the Seahawks chances at victory are 50/50 at best. For a variety of reasons, some rational … others perhaps not so much:

  • Earl Thomas: His absence leaves the Hawks’ secondary vulnerable to Stafford’s big arm. The last two times Seattle faced teams with elite passing quarterbacks (Aaron Rodgers and Carson Palmer), they lost.
  • The o-line: Playoff football requires playoff-caliber pass protection. And that’s something we haven’t seen from Seattle’s offensive line all season. Watching them play has been like eating a box of chocolates … (you fill in the rest).
  • Karma: The Lions fell to the blue birds in Seattle last season after a blown call late in the 4th quarter of their week four matchup on Monday Night Football. The universe has a way of evening out these types of injustices over time.
  • 1957: That’s a loooong time ago. Things have gotta change at some point.

Julian, this is where you tease me for being a New Age Hippie from Olympia. Go for it. Then tell me who will win this matchup and why.

Rogers: Take a bath and get a job, hippie! Honestly, I have no idea why I’m supposed to castigate you for being a hippie, but when you offer me a free shot, I’ll take it. Maybe you can explain it to me sometime over some kombucha? You Olympians confuse me. I grew up there, but I got out. I remain outside the realm of understanding what Olympians are talking about.

Speaking of out, the Lions are about to have their playoff lives snuffed out. The Seahawks won’t be dropping a home playoff game this time to the weakest playoff squad in the NFC track. I don’t foresee a cakewalk for the blue birds, but a win nonetheless as the Lions continue their slide. Prediction: Seattle 27, Detroit 20.

Please allow us your patchouli-soaked prediction, if you please.

Ridpath: Seeing as how my mood obviously needs lifting, I’m going to try a little reverse psychology on myself and pick the Lions. That way, if the Hawks disappoint me by losing, at least I’ll have the satisfaction of being right. And if they win … well, then I’ll have another week of Seahawks football to look forward to. Prediction: Seattle 23, Detroit 24. (Bonus prediction: Somewhere along the way, Steven Hauschka is going to miss a field goal or an extra point. And it’s going to matter. Big time.)

Owning up Here’s what we were right and wrong about last week.

What he got right: The game winner. I’m 9–7 on my picks for the Seahawks regular season.

What he got wrong: I pointed to Richard Sherman going off the rails. Seems he’s beaten me to the punch by nowfreezing out the media. So I guess we won’t be treated to a meltdown any time soon. The San Francisco 49ers made it closer than I predicted, but the Seahawks rested starters in the fourth quarter.

What she got right: The game winner, bringing me back to even at 8–8. Congrats, Julian! That means you win our regular-season prediction showdown. Your prize awaits you in Olympia. (But since us Olympians are so “confusing,” you probably have no idea what I’m talking about.)

What she got wrong: I thought this would be a comfortable victory for Seattle. They were playing against the worst defense in the league, after all. But the Hawks fell behind early after a dismal first quarter and had to rely on their defense to get them back in the game.

Seahawks DBs Tedric Thompson and Tre Flowers creating believers

usatsi_10891004_1.jpg
USA Today

Seahawks DBs Tedric Thompson and Tre Flowers creating believers

Before second-year safety Tedric Thompson and rookie cornerback Tre Flowers can make believers out of Seahawks fans that they could not only become adequate replacements for those departed from the Legion of Boom, but maybe someday play well enough to solicit their own monikers, they must first make believers out of their peers and coaches. 

So far, the pair has received enough positive feedback that they appear to be well on their way to establishing their own identities in Seattle's secondary, now minus Richard Sherman (San Francisco), Kam Chancellor (career-ending neck injury) and safety Earl Thomas (contract hold out).

The more important of the two for now is Thompson, who is starting in place of Thomas. The second-year safety out of Colorado has the athleticism and range to become an impact safety. What Seattle is looking for is a growth in his knowledge so he can become more consistent. Against the Colts, he played well enough to cause coach Pete Carroll to declare that he was "fired up about Tedric." 

Starting safety Bradley McDougald said he likes what he's seen from Thompson. 

"I just see growth, continuously," McDougald said. "Not making the same mistake twice."

Defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. said Thompson has impressed and that he is pleased with how all of the safeties have come together as a group. 

“As you can see, they’re bonding and playing really well together," Norton told reporters. "You have Tedric who’s doing a great job of staying in the deep middle and making tackles on the run and really throwing his body around. McDougald, he’s really smart. He really does a great job of getting everybody on the same page and making sure that the coverages are right, the checks are right, and the formations all the things match up. He’s really bright.”

Flowers, the 6-foot-3, fifth-round pick out of Oklahoma State, is the wild card. He played safety in college and is adjusting to a new position. He started at left cornerback against the Colts in Seattle's first preseason game last week opposite Shaquill Griffin.

 ”If you watched, you see he’s very talented," Norton said of Flowers. "He’s got some really good length, he’s really fast, he’s really smart, extremely humble, and he’s getting better every day. So, we’re very excited with his improvement play after play.”

Griffin said Flowers has made a strong transition to cornerback. 

“He’s doing phenomenal," Griffin told reporters. "I have to say that. He’s listening, he’s not a rookie that acts like he knows it all, and I feel like the same way I came in, he came with the same mentality. He just wants to help, he wants to learn, and he’s doing great with that."

Flowers plays with great intensity, according to McDougald. 

"The thing I like about Tre is that it absolutely irritates him when the receivers catch the ball..." McDougald said. "Those types of plays mess up his days."

The two young defensive backs will receive more of a test on Saturday at the Los Angeles Chargers against quarterback Philip Rivers. Kickoff is at 7 p.m.  

Carroll optimistic Rashaad Penny will play in opener

Carroll optimistic Rashaad Penny will play in opener

Seattle coach Pete Carroll told reporters today that he is optimistic that rookie running back Rashaad Penny, who broke a finger on Monday, will be ready for the season opener Sept. 9 at Denver. 

Penny broke his finger during a pass rush drill. 

"He had surgery that worked out beautifully," Carroll said. "It’s a couple weeks. He can already move it and he’s not going to be in a cast or any of that kind of stuff so he’s in pretty good shape. We got a great report on it. He’s not going to be out very long at all.”

Penny underwent surgery in Philadelphia today.

“There’s a great doc back there that knows exactly what he’s doing with this kind of break, and so they thought that was the best choice,” Carroll said. 

Initial reports from NFL Network stated that Penny would be out three to four weeks. Four weeks on the shelf would cause Penny to miss the opener. 

[RELATED: Seahawks RB Rashaad Penny out 3-4 weeks with broken finger]

Seattle is also without the services of running back Mike Davis, who Carroll said injured his toe. 

"He didn’t even know he had it until he tried to get out here and run today," Carroll said. "I don’t have much to report on him but he’s got a sore great toe.”

The loss of Penny and Davis, along with the previously injured C.J. Prosise (hip), created depth issues for a team with six running backs on the roster. 

"We felt it a little bit today," Carroll said of the lack of healthy depth at running back. "Those guys had to do extra duties.”

Those guys are starter Chris Carson, J.D. McKissic and rookie Gerald Holmes

Carroll said that Prosise is on the verge of returning to full practice.

“He did the early part of practice," Carroll said.

Despite Penny's recent injury setback, Carroll said he likes what the rookie brings to the team. 

“I don’t have any doubt about what he’s capable of doing," Carroll said. "I really don’t. I think he’s – we’ve just got to make sure he’s in great shape and let him play ball. He’s shown us all the instincts. His ‘want-to’ is great. His learning ability is excellent. He’s applied himself in this pass protection stuff, which he knew that was something he was going to have to work out. He’s already applied himself. He’ll get better at that in time. He’s not as good as he will be, but carrying the football instinctively, how to catch it and run it, he’s done all that stuff. We’ve seen plenty.”

WR Brandon Marshall could become big part of Seahawks' plans

usatsi_10890845.jpg
USA Today

WR Brandon Marshall could become big part of Seahawks' plans

The Seahawks signed wide receiver Brandon Marshall to a "show-us-what-you-can-do" contract during the offseason in the hopes that the 34-year-old wide receiver still had something to offer coming off of a season-ending injury ankle last season with the New York Giants. 

So far, Marshall, when healthy and able to practice, has flashed enough of the skills that have helped him gain 2,215 receiving yards in the NFL to give the coaches hope that the six-time Pro Bowl receiver could be a big piece of the team's offense in 2018 both physically and mentally. 

“He continues to be closer to full go, cut it loose," Seattle coach Pete Carroll told reporters. "He can play, but we really haven’t let him go upfield, run downfield, top speed and all that stuff yet. We restricted him some and he’s been told to be restricted a little bit when he plays just to make sure that we don’t have any setbacks. Today was his most active day and we’re going to continue to extend it from there. So, we’re looking very good.”

The 6-foot-4 Marshall, when healthy, is a matchup nightmare because of his size, speed and body control that enables him to get to passes most receivers can't touch. But, he is 34 and coming off of surgery to a rather important body part to his craft. Seattle's No. 1 receiver is Doug Baldwin, out with a knee injury, and the No. 2 looks to be Tyler Lockett. Seattle added free agent Jaron Brown from Arizona, and at 6-3, he gives Seattle some size, as well. But Marshall can be special when he is physically right. 

Marshall, scheduled to make $1.1 million this season, said recently that he simply doesn't want to be another guy on the roster. He wants to have the same type of impact he has always had on teams by making big plays, something Seattle's offense will certainly use. 

[RELATED: Seahawks need WR Brandon Marshall to make an impact]

A huge bonus while Marshall works his way back physically has been his cerebral contributions to the team, according to offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer. 

"The way he thinks football, the way he sees things on the field, he gives great input when he comes back [to the huddle]," Schottenheimer said. "He was like, ‘hey what were you doing there?’ and he’ll say something and then we’ll go and watch the film and you’re like, ‘wow, he was right.’ I think that has a lot to do with it. We’re very encouraged.”

The big challenge has been Marshall developing chemistry with quarterback Russell Wilson while not practicing full go. 

“It’s developing," Carroll said. "They’re working hard at it, they’re working at it. Both guys understand that has to take place and they’re hanging together, they’re working together, they’re getting extra reps together."

Schottenheimer said Marshall and Wilson have certainly taken time to work on their communication. 

“In the meetings, when we’re watching film, see (Marshall) kind of talking and saying [to Wilson], ‘hey, what are you thinking here or what would you do here? What could I possibly give you here?’" Schottenheimer said. "They’re kind of always together. Obviously, great respect for one another and trying to get the same language down because it’s such an intricacy of those guys."

Marshall played last Thursday but didn't catch a pass. He will get more opportunities on Saturday when Seattle plays at the Los Angeles Chargers. Starters typically play into the second quarter during the second preseason game, so maybe fans will see Wilson and Marshall have a chance to work on their red zone chemistry. 

"He’s seen a lot of coverages," Schottenheimer said. "He knows how people have kind of played him over the years. You certainly have to respect him because he’s so big and powerful down in the red zone. I think it’s invaluable some of the stuff that Brandon has seen over the years and again, Russ is like a sponge. Russ is trying to learn anything he can from anybody so it’s been cool to see them in conversation and engage and Russ kind of making notes. It’s pretty cool.”

REPORT: Seahawks RB Rashaad Penny out 3-4 weeks with broken finger

REPORT: Seahawks RB Rashaad Penny out 3-4 weeks with broken finger

Seattle rookie running back Rashaad Penny will be out several weeks after undergoing surgery to repair a broken finger, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.  

Penny, in a competition battle with second-year running back Chris Carson for the starting job, could return for the season opener Sept. 9 at Denver if the expected recovery timetable of three to four weeks prove to be correct on the short end. If Penny misses four weeks, he could return Sept. 17 at Chicago.  

According to NFL.com, Penny broke his finger during Monday's practice then on Tuesday night flew to Philadelphia to have surgery Wednesday morning.

Seattle use its first-round pick (27th overall) in last spring's NFL Draft to select Penny in hopes that the speedster would jumpstart a lethargic running game that ranked 23rd in the NFL last season, and only didn't rank lower because quarterback Russell Wilson leading the team with 586 yards.

In Seattle's first preseason game, Carson rushed for 26 yards on four carries while Penny gamed 18 on six carries, during a 19-17 loss to Indianapolis at CenturyLink Field. 

Seattle's next preseason game is a 7 p.m., Saturday at San Diego.

Seahawks' twins, Shaquem and Shaquill Griffin shine together

usatsi_11057917_1.jpg
USA Today

Seahawks' twins, Shaquem and Shaquill Griffin shine together

Seattle rookie linebacker Shaquem Griffin, born without a left hand, admitted to being nervous when he entered the Seahawks' first preseason game Thursday night against Indianapolis at CenturyLink Field. 

That condition lasted up until the fifth-round pick out of Central Florida experienced contact. 

"I didn’t know how it was going to be so it was just me trying to get that first hit out of the way and once I got that first tackle, I was like, ‘you know what, I was supposed to be here and I kind of just let loose from there," Griffin told reporters Saturday following the team's first practice since the game.  

Griffin, a backup inside linebacker, ended the night with nine tackles, six solo and one for a loss. His performance became news because he played with his twin brother, cornerback Shaquill Griffin, and did so while playing with a disadvantage unique to the NFL. But not having a left hand didn't appear to be a factor for Shaquem against the Colts.

Shaquem's Griffin's speed and instincts made the game look easy for him. They were allowed to flourish, in part, he said because Seattle coach Pete Carroll told him to not worry about making mistakes. 

"He said he wanted to see guys run hard and hit, and that’s what I wanted to do so that’s what I did when it came down," he said.

Still, mistakes were made that Griffin wants to clean up.

“Just being able to have a better understanding of what’s going on before it happens," Griffin said. "I think I can do better when it comes to watching film and how I watch it. It’s definitely different now from college. I can be able to watch film all day and you’ll get so many different looks. If you watch film in a particular way now, you’ll be able to see certain keys that allow you to see the play before it happens."

Carroll said game video showed that once he settled in, the inside linebacker's play began to flourish. 

“It took him a little bit to get his feel, and he would tell you that too," Carroll said. "He struggled slow. He was really hyped up and kind of amped and wasn’t moving well. Then, he slowed things down, backed up a little bit in his alignments and just really started hitting the line of scrimmage. You see the speed that he has and his nature to be aggressive and run through to be an attacking player really showed up for his first time out. And, he’s got a million things to learn, so he’s just getting started. But, the fundamental part of it (where you) run and hit showed. It was exciting and I was really glad that he contributed on special teams in such a big way.”

Shaquill Griffin started at left cornerback so he didn't see much action. Still, the pair relished the opportunity to share an NFL field. 

"You feel that same energy, you feel comfortable and having him around and having guys that are willing to help me so much, it just makes me feel so much (more) comfortable when I’m out there," Shaquem said. 

Shaquill called it an experience of a lifetime. 

"We’re glad it happened," Shaquill told the media. "We’re glad the organization made it happen, and just to see him run around, I didn’t play as much that game. You get in, you get out, but to see him out there running around making plays and having fun doing it with his teammates, it was a great moment. I enjoyed it. I know he did too. It felt good.”

"You continue to work your technique and craft and as long as you play fast, you’re going to play good and that’s what he did," Shaquill said. "Everybody is going to make mistakes but as long as you’re playing fast and doing that, you’re going to be totally fine. He definitely played fast. He definitely did that.”

The twins live together along with their two dogs. Shaquem's dog, according to Shaquill, still needs to be potty-trained. 

"I just keep him in his room," Shaquill said. "I let him deal with all that stuff, because I actually have a dog also. We got a yorkie (Melo) and then we got a blue French bulldog (Tank). When them two run around, it’s crazy and they fight 24/7. His dog acts just like a little brother because my dog is older than his and he acts just like a little brother. I could see why they argue so much but so far, he’s not doing too bad but he needs to get him potty-trained quickly."

Pete Carroll found Seattle's first preseason game, "valuable."

usatsi_11057987.jpg
USA Today

Pete Carroll found Seattle's first preseason game, "valuable."

Seattle coach Pete Carroll called the team's 19-17 loss to Indianapolis in the Seahawks' first preseason game of the season, "valuable," and generally appeared to be pleased with Thursday's outing while talking to reporters on Saturday following practice in Renton, Wash. 

Carroll spoke positively regarding the play of rookies, linebacker Shaquem Griffin, running back Rashaad Penny, tight end Will Dissly, defensive end Rasheem Green and cornerback Tre Flowers and praised the team's overall effort. 

But the most important positive element from Thursday night had to be the play of the starting offensive line. 

"The first group did a real nice job on offense," Carroll told reporters. "We got to see our guys come off of the ball a little bit and protect the quarterback."

Preseason game performances should never be overblown, but those should be sweet words for Seattle fans after how poorly the offensive line played last season. 

Thursday's starting group of left tackle Duane Brown, left guard Ethan Pocic, center Justin Britt, right guard D.J. Fluker and right tackle Germain Ifedi helped Seattle push its way 75 yards in 12 plays to start the game. The drive ended with a five-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Russell Wilson to Nick Vannett

The line allowed running back Chris Carson, seeing his first action since fracturing his leg last year against the Colts, to gain 26 yards on four carries.

“They felt strong," Carroll said of the line. "They gave Russ (Wilson) a lot of nice spacing. Pocket was very solid. He moved because he didn’t find the receivers where he needed to find them, open, so he moved to make them open and he did it. It just felt better."

The tight end position helped the offense line function well even without veteran and projected starter Ed Dickson, who remains on the active/non-football injury list and did not play. That meant more opportunities for Vannett and Dissly. Both, according to Carroll, played well. 

'Diss (Will Dissly) did a really nice job," Carroll said. "He did exactly what we hoped he would have looked like in his first time out. He’s going to get better and understand things more and be more aggressive. But, he already showed the big body, and he showed the ability to hold the line of scrimmage. Go to the big play pass that Russ hits to (Tyler) Lockett, he does a great job blocking the defensive end on the other side and just locks him out. That’s a real positive, that’s a real plus for us.”

Better offensive line play. A rookie tight end that looks like a keeper as a quality run blocker. Seattle couldn't have asked for much more in its first outing. 

Key players will play more in the second preseason game, Saturday at San Diego (7 p.m.). 

Seattle LB Shaquem Griffin's nine-tackle night almost cost him a ride home

usatsi_11056622.jpg
USA Today

Seattle LB Shaquem Griffin's nine-tackle night almost cost him a ride home

SEATTLE - Seattle rookie linebacker Shaquem Griffin patiently dressed in front of his locker at CenturyLink Field with his back to a growing contingent of media waiting to speak to the fifth-round pick who made national headlines last April after becoming the first one-handed player selected in the NFL Draft during the modern era.

Griffin appeared to be a bit shocked when he eventually turned around and saw the media waiting for his attention. He shouldn't have been. Griffin's inspiring, nine-tackle (six solo) performance during a 19-17 loss to Indianapolis in Seattle's preseason opener warranted context.

His twin brother and roommate, Seattle cornerback Shaquill Griffin, however, decided to have a little fun with the situation at his brother's expense. While Shaquem answered a question, Shaquill walked and said: "He's got about 15 seconds or he is going to Uber."

Zing! 

The quip drew laughs but didn't shorten the media session as a pleased Shaquem talked about his night. 

"It felt good to kind of get out there and get our feet wet, kind of get some hits in." Shaquem Griffin said. "I know the way the league works, you don't really get a chance to tackle too much (in practice). So to kind of get out there and get a few tackles in and kind of hit people as hard as you can, it kind of felt good."

The inside linebacker is known for his elite speed and having a nose for the football. Those skills were on fully display Thursday night. Griffin made a variety of tackles. He shot gaps, filled holes, ran down backs and receivers along the sideline or in space and closed in on pass catchers to halt the occurrence of any yards after the catch. Griffin put his instincts to work and demonstrated no issues with wrapping up NFL players despite having one hand. 

"I think he was running and hitting just like he's been looking in practice," Seattle coach Pete Carroll said. "Very encouraged. He's a wonderful kid. He's been really busting his tail to figure out how to play in our scheme and all that...he was very active, just like we were hoping."

Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson said he enjoyed watching the two brothers play together and their interactions with each other on the sideline. 

"The reality is that he has no hand and to think about that and how good of a football player he is, is really, really cool to see," Wilson said. "He's a testimony and it's a testament to hard work...And he's not just tackling people, he's making plays."

During Shaquem's interview, locker neighbor and veteran inside linebacker Bobby Wagner had a little fun with his protégé by tossing out comments while pretending to hide behind a reporter. 

When Shaquem was asked recount the play that play stood out most to him, Wagner answered as if he were the rookie out of Central Florida: "That one play when I ran through the gap and made the tackle."

Shaquem, unable to keep a straight face, laughed. "Yeah," he said. "That's the play."

The moment occurred in the third quarter when Griffin shot through a gap in the Colt's offensive line and tackled former Seattle running back Christine Michael for a loss of one. 

"When I ran through the gap and made a tackle for a loss I got excited abut that because I've been working on that for awhile now," Shaquem said with a big grin.  

Shaquem receives a lot of attention in part because of all that he has overcome. For him, however, the absence of his left hand and all that he has accomplished is not on his mind.

"I just play football," he said. "Me just being here is amazing and it's a blessing. I give all thanks to God. But I'm just here to play football."

Should he continue playing like he did Thursday night, his disadvantage could soon become a non-story. 

Seahawks see positive signs in 19-17 preseason loss to Colts

usatsi_11056647.jpg
USA Today

Seahawks see positive signs in 19-17 preseason loss to Colts

SEATTLE - The new-look, reloading Seattle Seahawks took the field Thursday for the first time this preseason against Indianapolis and at the very least showed signs of being a solid team during a 19-17 defeat.

Then again, Seattle (9-7 last year) also showed signs of once again being mediocre. Welcome to preseason action.

Like with most NFL teams in their first preseason game, Seattle's starters saw little action at CenturyLink Field leaving a lot to the imagination. But the starters, including the offensive line, left a positive impression with what little action they saw.

Quarterback Russell Wilson led Seattle on a 12-play, 75-yard scoring drive during the team's first possession. The drive included Wilson completing 4 of 5 passes for 43 yards and rushing for 14 yards. He ended the drive by doing what he does best, escaping pressure to find tight end Nick Vannett in the end zone for a five-yard touchdown to make the score 7-3.

The drive revealed several positive signs beyond the play of the well-established Wilson, who led the NFL with 34 touchdown passes last season. Seattle's offensive line played very well early. Not perfectly. But well, nonetheless. And, running back Chris Carson, who missed 12 games last season with a fractured leg, started and was able to get loose for 26 yards on four carries with a long of 14. Mike Davis, also injured last season, rushed for 25 yards on six carries.

Rookie running back Rashaad Penny, selected in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft out of San Diego State, carried the ball eight times for 16 yards. He looked fast on a six-yard run, but never really had very much room to run. He also made an error in pass protection, something he has been working on correcting all training camp.

All told, however, one had to be encouraged by the play of the offensive line, which delivered a miserable season in 2017. The starting five of left tackle Duane Brown, left guard Ethan Pocic, center Justin Britt, right guard D.J. Fluker and right tackle Germain Ifedi proved to be more than serviceable. 

"They did great," Carson said. "Without them the running backs wouldn't have gotten any yards, so they did great. All of the attention should go to them."

Fluker, brought in to bring some size and nastiness to the group, said Thursday was a positive start.

"We kind of made a statement," Fluker said. "But we're still growing right now."

Fluker went on to say that it's all about thriving in the moment, including converting a fourth down with one yard to go. 

"It's really just about having an attitude," Fluker said.

On defense, there were several nice moments, even though Colts' quarterback Andrew Luck returned to action for the first time since injuring his throwing shoulder in 2016. Luck looked strong, completing 6 of 9 passes for 64 yards. But he couldn't get the Colts into the end zone on two drives. 

Part of the problem was the play of cornerbacks, Shaquill Griffin and rookie Tre Flowers. Both defended passes on Luck to help Seattle's defense. Rookie defensive end Rasheem Green, taken in the third round out of USC, sacked Luck early in the game and finished with 1 1/2 sacks on the night. 

Then there was linebacker Shaquem Griffin, the celebrated rookie out of Central Florida who lost his left hand at birth. Seattle took the speedy linebacker in the fifth round and he started Thursday night, making four tackles in the blink of an eye and finished with nine total tackles as a backup, with one for loss.

"It felt good to go out there and get my feet wet," Griffin said. But he added that he missed some assignments and holds himself to a higher standard. 

That's all anyone did tonight. What transpired ultimately means little moving forward. But all in all, it was a positive start for Seattle.  

Notes: Wide receiver Jaron Brown, signed as a free agent from Arizona, started in place of the injured Doug Baldwin (knee) and alongside Tyler Lockett. Wide receiver Brandon Marshall, signed as a free agent from the New York Giants, played but did not have a reception...Safety Tedric Thompson started at safety alongside Bradley McDougald in place of holdout Earl Thomas.  

Seahawks will search for some answers in preseason opener vs. the Colts

Seahawks will search for some answers in preseason opener vs. the Colts

The Seattle Seahawks begin the preseason Thursday night at CenturyLink Field against the Indianapolis Colts giving coach Pete Carroll and his staff a first look at a lot of young players looking to hold down starting jobs or simply to make the team. 

Finally, it's time for the team to cut loose on the field. 

"We’ve been waiting and holding back," Pete Carroll told reporters following practice. "You hold back all offseason. It’s really not a football mentality in the offseason. You have to just hold off and hold back, and now they don’t have to hold back anymore so I’m looking to see if they can embrace the moment and jump on it and we can play our tail off and run up and down the field on those kickoffs and show what they got and have some fun playing the game.”

Here's a look at a few of the many position battles that will be on display Thursday night:

Offensive line: Nothing else will matter for the Seahawks this season unless the offensive line at least becomes solid.

That process in game conditions begins Thursday night. It would be nice for the team to see some signs that the running game can rebound from an abysmal 2017 season that saw quarterback Russell Wilson lead the team with 586 yards rushing. 

The only two linemen that have positions locked up are left tackle Duane Brown and center Justin Britt. Seattle must identify three other starters and a few capable backups that can help this unit get through the season. 

One newcomer that has certainly made an impression is right guard D.J. Fluker

"He’s really been kind of what we had hoped he would be," Carroll said of the team's free agent acquisition from the New York Giants. "He’s such a big man. He’s a giant of a guy. He’s 355 (pounds) or something and you can’t move him. He can hold the point on pass protection, which is really nice, and he’s been very aggressive coming off the ball."

Carroll went on to say that he's been pleased with the entire group of linemen. Now the team must see some production. 

Running back: Chris Carson will see his first action since fracturing his leg early last season. He's battling rookie Rashaad Penny, selected by Seattle in the first round of last spring's draft, for the starting job. Had Carson not gotten injured last season and had a strong year, the Seahawks might not have taken a back in the first round. Carson must show management that it might have made a mistake by selecting Penny.

As for Penny, he needs to show that he can adjust to the NFL game. If he does, Penny's combination of size and speed and make him tough for Carson to overcome.

Carroll said Carson has certainly done well working his way back this offseason.

"He was really the star of the offseason in that he was just so fit, so strong and so explosive from the moment we got back," Carroll said. "He’s over all of that. What’s important is that he just gets back out and playing ball again. It’s been a while but he looks great and I can’t imagine that he’s going to have any problem with it at all.”

For Penny to win the job, he must show that he can pass protect. 

"This is an area that he just needed to elevate and he totally embraced the challenge," Carroll said. "He has not missed a step on this. He’s plenty physical and gifted enough to take care of business. At 236 (pounds) or whatever he is, it’s a big man taking on whomever is coming so we’re not worried about him at all. He’s ready to go. But he’ll get better. No question.”

Expect both to get ample carries all preseason. 

Safety: With Pro Bowler Earl Thomas holding out, the starters on paper looked to be veterans Bradley McDougald and Maurice Alexander, who started games last year for the Los Angeles Rams. That was until Tedric Thompson showed the coaching staff that maybe he is the guy.  Thompson, selected by Seattle in the fourth round last year, will start Thursday alongside McDougald. 

“I want him to feel comfortable and supported," Carroll said of Thompson. "We believe that the guy is a really good player and we just want him to let it go and cut it loose, and not hold back (by) playing cautious or anything. I think he’s got a lot of plays in him, which he’s shown and he’s given us the confidence to support him in that manner. I don’t want him to be inhibited (and) try to work his way in or that kind of thing. Let’s go. I’ve got confidence that he’s going to do alright.”

Thompson said he is excited for the opportunity and that he and MDougald have established some good chemistry. 

 “B-Mac was somebody last year, like this year, like a lot of the vets that was kind of like bringing me along, showing me different ropes," Thompson told reporters. "I was at B-Mac’s house a couple of days ago. So, me and B-Mac, just like all the other DB’s, got a good relationship going.”

Cornerback: The loss of Richard Sherman has created a void at cornerback. Veteran Byron Maxwell isn't a lock to start while second-year man Shaquill Griffin looks like a certain starter. One man to watch is rookie Tre Flowers, a fifth-round pick last spring out of Oklahoma State where he played safety.

The 6-foot-3 Flowers is a big corner in the mold of Sherman. Asking Flowers to become the next Sherman might not be realistic, but that doesn't mean the team can't hope that the rookie develops into an impact player.

“Yeah, I’m excited," Carroll said of Flowers. "He’s going to get a chance to play a lot of ball. He just needs to be out there and play. He just needs to see what it’s like and see what it feels like and come back play after play and series after series. He’ll get a lot of work and I’m really excited for him. He’s done a fantastic job. He’s really bought in. He’s made the transition to go to corner. Now we need to see – he fights the guy and so we need to see how that plays into it when he deals with the challenges that come your way at corner. I’m real impressed with him so far.”