The Seattle Seahawks (1-1) are in Los Angeles to play the Chargers (0-2) in Week 3 of the NFL preseason. Pete Carroll called it an “important week,” which suggests that Saturday night’s matchup will be treated as the traditional dress rehearsal for the regular season.
If that’s the case, expect to see all of Seattle’s starters in for at least the first half, if not the first drive of the second half as well. That includes Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright. Carroll hinted that Seattle’s full starting linebacker trio along with Mychal Kendricks should get some exhibition game reps.
Beyond the starters, there are several players who need a good showing against the Chargers if they hope to land a spot on the 53-man roster next Saturday.
1. WR Gary Jennings
Seattle’s fourth-round pick is yet to record a reception this preseason on three targets. The reality is that Jennings has been awfully quiet this month apart from a few solid practices (one in particular). There’s been chatter that he’s not a lock to make the roster, although cutting Jennings now seems to be even more of a long shot following David Moore’s shoulder injury.
Still, it’s time for Jennings to show why Seattle invested a fourth-round pick in him.
“It would be good,” Carroll said of his hopes to see something out of Jennings on Saturday. “It would be good for Gary to get a lot of (playing time). This is a good chance for him the next couple weeks to make a statement.”
That doesn’t mean the rookie needs 100 yards and two touchdowns against the Chargers. It could just be one highlight-reel catch that makes you go, “Ooh, OK, so that’s what Jennings can do.”
2. S Lano Hill
Hill (hip) has finally been given the green light for game action. Carroll tabbed the third-year safety as another one of his top players he’s eager to see on Saturday. The team’s third-round pick in 2017 had a strong finish to 2018 before suffering the hip injury that kept him out the entire offseason.
Now healthy, Hill enters a crowded safety competition. He has the chance to benefit from Marquise Blair (back) being out for the time being.
“It’s important for him to make a statement about where he fits in in the competition and all,” Carroll said. “We really like the style of play that he brings and the toughness and speed and all that. He’s ready to go.”
3. QB Geno Smith
Smith has the opportunity to all but lock up the backup QB job. He actually improved his standing while he was out for a week after having a cyst removed from his knee. Paxton Lynch was underwhelming last week in Minnesota and is now out with a concussion. Once again, Smith is in the driver’s seat, and it’s his job to lose.
“This is really Geno’s shot this week,” Carroll said.
4. DE Barkevious Mingo
I’ve written about Mingo previously and how these preseason games are huge for him to show he’s a capable pass rusher. With Ziggy Ansah and L.J. Collier aiming for Week 1 returns, someone is going to get squeezed off the roster on the defensive line. Mingo, especially given the $4.1 million in cap relief the Seahawks would get if they cut him, is a prime candidate to be the odd man out next Saturday. Some of the beat writers have kept Mingo on the roster in their projections. I currently have him on the outside looking in.
5. LB Ben Burr-Kirven
Burr-Kirven has another great shot to show well while Shaquem Griffin remains out with a knee injury. I’m still of the belief that there’s only one roster spot available between the two of them, and Griffin is currently the leader in the clubhouse.
6. WR Jazz Ferguson
Moore’s injury helped every other receiver’s odds at a roster spot, but I still think the Seahawks want to see more from Ferguson. He had a fumble and a drop in Minnesota after a standout preseason debut against the Denver Broncos. Ferguson should get ample playing time against the Chargers.
7. RB C.J. Prosise
Finally healthy, Prosise should make his 2019 preseason debut on Saturday night. He’s firmly on the roster bubble and needs to show Seattle he’s the same guy who racked up 154 total yards against the New England Patriots in 2016.
8. WR Malik Turner
I’ll be honest, I never really gave Turner much of a chance to make the roster given the rookie trio of Ferguson, Jennings and John Ursua. But Turner played with the starters in Minnesota last Sunday ahead of Moore. I still think he needs a big preseason performance if he’s going to steal a roster spot from any of the aforementioned first-year players.