Seattle Seahawks

Seahawks, Dolphins Set For Opener: Week 1 Preview

Seahawks, Dolphins Set For Opener: Week 1 Preview

It was over before it began.

That’s the reality for the Seattle Seahawks as they reflect back to last season’s chastening playoff defeat to the Carolina Panthers.

“We’re not really satisfied with how that game went and we don’t want to have a season end like that again,” linebacker Bobby Wagner told the MMQB this summer. “We didn’t start playing our style of defense until the second quarter.”

Even in finding their style, Seattle’s 31-24 loss – which was made respectable only by a 24-0 surge to end the game - capped what was a trying year from the get-go. A perplexing off-season trade that sent Max Unger to New Orleans for Jimmy Graham; a faltering 2-4 start; an offense that never got its footing.

From the outset, Seattle’s magical two-year run, which ended in two Super Bowl appearances, was doomed.

The only thing left to do is turn the page.

On Sunday, 238 days after Cam Newton Dabbed all over their dreams, the Seahawks get to begin anew. The Miami Dolphins (6-10 in 2015) are challenge number one; but, for all intents and purposes, it doesn’t matter as much who’s on the other sideline for this Seahawks team. Not yet, at least. Because for all the certainties – the Legion of Boom; the linebackers; Russell Wilson and his emerging crop of receivers – it’s the unknowns that will determine just how far this team can go.

Can an offensive line that’s scattered with inexperience and performance questions come together? Can Christine Michael and Thomas Rawls come close to duplicating the impact of Marshawn Lynch? Can Frank Clark step in for Bruce Irvin and be a force on the defensive line?

These answers will begin to play out on Sunday, but we won’t have a full grasp of them for a few weeks.

Miami may not present the most menacing of challenges, but their strength – a mayhem-wreaking defensive line – coincides perfectly against Seattle’s biggest weakness: their young and mostly unproven offensive line.

When the Seahawks released their Week 1 depth chart on Tuesday, the line – which includes rookie Germain Ifedi – comes with a combined nine years of experience, led mostly by 5th-year left tackle Bradley Sowell.

The Dolphins counter-punch? Cameron Wake, Ndamukong Suh and Mario Williams.

Wake and Suh, who combined for 13 sacks last season, provide a 1-2 punch that could disrupt all of the Seahawks’ plans. Despite his struggles to fit into the culture during the 2015 season - his first with Miami - Suh is still a top-tier defensive tackle.

It will be a baptism by fire for the line, which will be cause for concern early, but could pay off exponentially. Pete Carroll and his staff are putting a lot on the shoulders of this young group, knowing full well the rewards that may come down the road.

If they can hold up – giving Russell Wilson enough time, and opening up some holes for Michael and Rawls – Seattle will be 1-0.

If Suh, Wake and Co. blow it up, and Seattle’s offense can’t run the ball, putting the whole game on the shoulders of Wilson, things will get dicey.

 

Prediction: Seattle 24, Miami 21. As to be expected, look for a slow start offensively for the Seahawks. There’s no way around it – the offensive line is going to have its growing pains, and they’re breaking in two new running backs. But with every passing series, things will begin to mesh together. You simply cannot replicate live, in-game snaps during practice, so Sunday will be their first test.

But there’s too much skill on the outside, and Wilson is in charge at QB. Though it hasn’t really been mentioned yet, the Seahawks defense is still the Seahawks defense. They’ve had to carry the team before; to start the season, they’ll be called upon again.

 

Fantasy Player to Watch: Odds are that Wilson will have precious little time to get the ball to his receivers with the Miami defensive line barring down. There’s a good chance we’ll see lots of quick hitches, out patterns and slants – which could mean a huge day for Tyler Lockett. No one on Seattle’s roster has a running style as elusive and ethereal as that of Lockett. He excels in weaving through tight spaces, and that’s all that can be expected on Sunday. Look for Lockett to have a big game as he continues his rise from special teams star to an all-around threat.

 

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.”

Rookie TE Will Dissly turning heads at Seahawks' camp

Rookie TE Will Dissly turning heads at Seahawks' camp

The Seattle Seahawks are in need of an influx of tight end talent following the departure of Jimmy Graham to Green Bay and the recent injury to free agent acquisition Ed Dickson

Maybe the answer is rookie Will Dissly, who played college football at nearby Washington. So far, the fourth-round pick has made a believer out of quarterback Russell Wilson

"Dissly’s been real impressive," Wilson told reporters following practice in Renton, Wash. "He’s been, in my opinion, one of the stars of camp. I really, really like how he’s playing and I think that we all really are impressed by his professionalism. That comes from him playing at the University of Washington, him playing big time football, playing for Chris Petersen coming over here, his knowledge of the game, his intelligence."

Dissly went to Washington as a defensive end out of Bozeman, Mont. He played defense his first two seasons with the Huskies before moving to tight end his junior year. Now he finds himself in the NFL catching passes and receiving praise from Wilson.  

"That’s really cool," Dissly said to reporters regarding Wilson's compliments.  "Whenever a veteran says that you’re doing good things, your eyes kind of brighten up a little bit and you get really excited about what they said but just to go out there and compete with that guy is unbelievable.”

Dickson, an accomplished blocking tight end with solid receiving ability, is the projected starter. But he has been hindered by injuries since camp started nearly two weeks ago. That has created opportunities for Dissly, also a quality blocking tight end who last season caught 21 passes for 289 yards for the Huskies. 

[READ ALSO: Seahawks' rookie RB Rashaad Penny rounding into form]

"We’re going to need him," Wilson added. "We’re going to need him to step up in a big way and I think it’s going to be cool to see Will Dissly do that.”

Seattle coach Pete Carroll says Dissly has demonstrated that he belongs. 

"There’s no questioning his ability to block and that’s something that we drafted him for," Carroll told reporters. "We knew that he was a nice all-around athlete, but we really wanted his line of scrimmage stuff and the first six days that we’ve had him in pads, he’s shown nothing but a good savvy, a good understanding and a good mentality for it.”

Seattle plays its first preseason game at 7 p.m., Thursday against Indianapolis at home. Dissly figures to see plenty of action while he continues to carve out a role on this year's team. 

“I’ve only practiced in CenturyLink (Field)." Dissly said. "I’ve never been to a game so I can only imagine what the 12s are like. I’m excited to experience that and as far as expectations go in the game, we’re just looking to go out and compete. Beat the guy across from you and hopefully we can come out on top.”

Seahawks' rookie RB Rashaad Penny rounding into form

Seahawks' rookie RB Rashaad Penny rounding into form

RENTON, Wash. - Seattle's shiny new toy on offense, running back Rashaad Penny, hasn't quite blown away the field in the position battle at the team's most polarizing individual spot.

But the first-round pick out of San Diego State certainly has made his presence felt during Seahawks' training camp, both with his size and speed. Still, as for now, it appears that he will be involved in a rotation at running back with Chris Carson, a possibility that Penny says he is okay with. 

“I did the same thing at San Diego State and I thought it was a great opportunity for me, so doing it here doesn’t matter," Penny said. "At the end of the day, it’s all a competition. All guys know each role and they know what to do. I think that’s the best thing about it, we know each role and we know what to do. But at the end of the day, it’s all love between all of us. We compete our butts off day in and day out, but at the end of the day it’s all love.”

Seattle has been looking for an answer at running back since Marshawn Lynch left the team following the 2015 season. The team, since, has relied on a hodgepodge of running backs, none of whom have come remotely close to Lynch's level. 

Selecting Penny out of San Diego State with the 27th pick in the first round signaled Seattle's acknowledgement that it needed to invest heavily in the position in order to help the team improve its running game, which finished last season ranked 23rd in the NFL. Quarterback Russell Wilson led the team with 586 yards rushing. 

Unseating Carson as the starter, however, is not a given. The seventh-round pick in 2017 started three games last season before a fractured leg limited him to four appearances and 208 yards on 49 carries. He has also had a strong camp, according to coach Pete Carroll, creating the feeling that the duo could split carries to start the season, and beyond.

Carroll, who said all of the team's backs performed well in Saturday's mock game, said too many game "snaps" remain before a decision will be made on a starter and how a rotation will work. Seattle's first preseason game is 7 p.m., Thursday night at home against Indianapolis. 

But it is obvious that the Seahawks like what they've seen from Penny.

"No question about Rashaad Penny and the expansive things that he can do and he’s comfortable doing, from short yard running to being split out and use him out of the backfield," Carroll said. 

The power also is there. 

"He weighed in this week at 236, 236 pounds running like that and he can catch the football and all that as well,"  Carroll said. "He’s a really, really exciting addition to this club. Really exciting.” 

Carson also recognizes Penny's assets. 

“He’s a powerful runner," Carson said. "He has a great speed (and) great get away speed. I know you saw it today. When he gets in the open field, he’s real fast.”

The question is how will the pair fit together. 

“It’s just he actually brings that aspect with his speed and I bring that aspect more with power," Carson said. "We are just working hard off of each other.”

Penny, like all rookies, is adjusting to the speed of the NFL. He's also getting used to be more versatile in the NFL.

On receiving: “I mean, I never got to do it in college. Doing it now, I feel comfortable. Catching the ball out of the backfield, or in the slot, or lined up out wide, I think I can really do it.”

On pass protection: “That was a mental thing in college for me. I didn’t get too many reps at it, so I’m out here competing every day once I get the chance to do it. Coaches are throwing me in there just to see what I can do and handle the pressure. I honestly think I’m probably doing well but it’s just the competition. So, it’s fun as well.”

On the mental part of the game: "I know the assignment, I know where most guys are. All that comes easy just because I’m in the meetings with the guys. I feel like it’s just the mental part, me just getting down and striking the opponent. And that’s something I’m going to keep working on and I feel like I’m getting better at.”

A lot will be asked from Penny this season. Even though he will have Carson to ease the pressure, when you're a first-round pick at a glamour position, fans will expect spectacular results. Marshawn-like, to be exact. Penny said he isn't feeling any pressure to live up to expectations. 

“Not at all," he said. "I feel like you just go out there and play your game, play football. That’s what they got me here to do. I don’t view myself as a first rounder at all because I’ve been overlooked for so long and it’s nothing new to me. I’m glad I’m in this position and I’m glad I’m still here fighting for the position.”

Seahawks need WR Brandon Marshall to make an impact

Seahawks need WR Brandon Marshall to make an impact

RENTON, Wash - Seattle wide receiver Brandon Marshall is in the twilight of his career. At 34 years of age, he now resides in that area where many with his mileage have already exited the NFL. But Marshall is no ordinary athlete. He is an elite, physical presence that has put forth Hall of Fame caliber production during his 12-year-career.

Is a 13th in the cards? Potentially. But it's complicated. Marshall is coming off of a season cut short by a broken ankle that limited him to five games and 154 yards before the New York Giants let him go. Marshall, who also suffered an injured toe, spent the early part of the offseason rehabilitating his injury while also trying to get into good enough shape to workout for other teams. Training proved difficult. He fell out of shape. Finally, Seattle decided to roll the dice on Marshall on May 29 with a one-year, $1.1 million deal, hoping he could get healthy and back into shape. Maybe, just maybe, Marshall could give the team a potent enough dose of the Marshall of the past to make an impact this season. 

On Thursday, Marshall said, flashed those skills. 

"It’s the best I’ve felt in over a year," he said.

Marshall, who missed the first few days of training camp with a hamstring injury, certainly looked agile and gifted while making a half spin in the air to snatch a back shoulder fade pass from quarterback Russell Wilson out of the air in the left corner of the end zone. 

After that play, however, Marshall pretty much shut it down for the remainder of practice. He's simply not all the way back, yet.

"If you don’t got a full tank then you can’t play this game so I’m working my tail off to get 100% healthy and get out there and contribute in a major way," he said. "I’m not here to just be a guy. I’m here to be the beast that I’ve always been. I’m confident I’ll be able to do that in the next couple weeks.”

Seattle could use a few more "beasts" on this team. 

Top wide receiver Doug Baldwin is battling a knee issue. He and Tyler Lockett should form a quality tandem. After that, well, receiver is a major question mark. Free agent signee Jaron Brown adds depth but he isn't a potential star. The Marshall of a few years ago would have been one of the best receivers in Seahawks' history. Seattle doesn't need Marshall to be the guy who in his prime put up eight 1,000-yard seasons while producing 12,225 yards and 85 receiving touchdowns. Seattle could get by with the 2014 version of Marshall that gave Chicago 721 yards and eight receiving touchdowns. 

The loss of tight end Jimmy Graham to Green Bay created a need for a big bodied wide receiver that could make plays in the red zone. Marshall is that guy. Even if he isn't back to being viable starter that can consistently rip apart secondaries between the 20-yard lines, if Marshall could at least replace Graham as a red zone threat, the Seahawks would benefit.

To get to that level, Marshall said he has undergone regenokine therapy. Whatever it takes. But will it work? 

“Just being able to go out there and feel the grass the way I felt it before (the injury), my feet under me was special," Marshall said. "Catching the ball, that’s special. Being able to have a defender in front of you, that’s special. I almost had tears in my eyes today being able to go in the huddle and break the huddle, just because of all the work that I’ve put in.”

Seattle coach Pete Carroll said Marshall is working his way back toward a normal workload and added that he certainly makes things happen when he is on the field. 

"He’s a guy that we get him right and get him healthy and out there, he becomes a factor for us because we know he can do some really special stuff," Carroll said. "He and Russell (Wilson) have worked together quite a bit already, over the summer as well, and already developing a mentality and an attitude and the chemistry that you need. It’s an exciting potential addition and we’re looking forward to it.”

Seahawks' safety Earl Thomas states his case regarding holdout

usatsi_9661681.jpg
USA Today

Seahawks' safety Earl Thomas states his case regarding holdout

Seattle safety Earl Thomas had been quiet regarding his holdout - until now. 

The Pro Bowl safety wrote an article for the Players' Tribune in which he detailed why he is holding out of Seahawks' training camp, which began last week. Simply put, Thomas, 29, wants financial security before continuing to put his body on the line for the Seahawks, a team he helped lead to two Super Bowl appearances and one championship during his eight-year career. He has one year worth $8.5 million remaining on his current deal.

Give him an extension, he wrote, or trade him to a team that will value his talents long term. 

"If you’re risking your body to deliver all of this value to an organization, then you deserve some sort of assurance that the organization will take care of you if you get hurt," Thomas said. "It’s that simple. This isn’t new, and this isn’t complicated. It’s the reason I’m holding out — I want to be able to give my everything, on every play, without any doubt in my mind."

Seattle has declined to even discuss a new contract for Thomas.

Extending the contracts of veteran players is always a risk for a franchise. Last year, the Seahawks gave an extension to safety Kam Chancellor only to watch him suffer a neck injury that cost him his career. Seattle must still pay him the $25 million guaranteed on his new deal. 

[RELATED: Seahawks locking up Duane Brown should irk holdout Earl Thomas]

That situation might be giving Seattle pause. Also, maybe in the team's eyes, Thomas has already started to decline as a player and they don't see the value in extending him. The Seahawks could wait to see how Thomas performs this season and then slap the franchise tag on him next offseason, a move that would net Thomas roughly $12 million in 2019. 

Interestingly, Seattle just gave a $36.5 million extension to left tackle Duane Brown, 33, acquired last season in a trade with Houston. Brown netted another $14 million in guaranteed money with the deal. Thomas would likely take a similar deal and return to the team. 

[RELATED: Earl Thomas' absence creates intrigue at safety for Seahawks]

Thomas missing training camp and preseason games is not that huge of a deal in the grand scheme of things. What will matter is if he misses regular season That would seriously hurt the Seahawks, already struggling to replace Richard Sherman and Chancellor in the secondary. No Thomas on the field would almost assure that the defense would drop off even more after ranking No. 13 in total defense last season. Seattle spent the previous five years ranked in the top five. 

Missing games would also hurt Thomas. who would forfeit $500,000 per week. 

"I wish I was at a camp right now — and I’m talking right now," Thomas wrote. "I’m ready. I’ve been preparing my body all off-season to be at an NFL camp. All I want is to be out there playing. Instead I’m here working out … and waiting."