The Seahawks enter Saturday’s preseason opener against Tennessee looking to answer key questions at several important positions. Coach Pete Carroll will get his first live look at Matt Flynn in game action. Rookie middle linebacker Bobby Wagner, who’s in a dogfight with Barrett Ruud to win the starting spot, will get his first taste of NFL action too. Needless to say, it may only be week 1 of the preseason, but the Seahawks should learn a lot about their team Saturday.
Can Matt Flynn win the starting QB job with one good preseason game?
Seahawks fans shouldn’t get too excited that Matt Flynn is starting Saturday’s preseason opener against Tennessee for two reasons: its preseason week 1 and somebody had to start. However, Flynn’s start is a big deal for another reason: This will be Carroll’s first true opportunity to evaluate how well Flynn can run the Seahawk offense. Sure, Carroll’s been watching Flynn in camp, but that’s not the same thing as having an opposing defense try to maul you when you drop back to pass. Flynn will have two quarters to prove to Carroll that he can capably run the offense. With a solid showing, Flynn can put himself in the driver’s seat for the starting job. With an embarrassing performance -- think three interceptions --Carroll will likely be back at square one in his three-way QB competition.
2. Will Bobby Wagner or Barrett Ruud establish themselves as the starting middle linebacker?
The Seahawks biggest loss in free agency this offseason was middle linebacker David Hawthorne, who signed with New Orleans. To replace Hawthorne, Seattle signed Ruud from Tennessee and drafted WAC defensive player of the year Wagner in the second round. Wagner has received rave reviews in camp so far, including one from fullback Michael Robinson on Thursday, “He’s a guy that can run sideline to sideline. I call him a 'Baby Patrick Willis' because I hadn't seen a linebacker move like that since Pat,” Robinson said, comparing Wagner to the 49ers' five-time pro bowler. Though Ruud has more experience, look for Wagner’s playing time to increase going forward if he can handle himself capably against the Titans on Saturday.
3. How deep does the Seahawks receiving corps go?
Right now, Carroll is desperate to get an experienced receiver on the team. In the past three weeks, the Seahawks have signed Antonio Bryant, Braylon Edwards and Terrell Owens, although Bryant has since been cut. The Seahawks currently have 13 receivers on their roster and over the next four weeks, they’re going to have to trim that down to six. If you assume Sidney Rice, Doug Baldwin, Golden Tate and Ben Obomanu are locks to make the team, that leaves nine guys fighting for three spots and two of those nine guys are Owens and Edwards. With Rice doubtful for Saturday’s preseason opener and Owens not playing; guys like Ricardo Lockette, Lavasier Tuinei, Deon Butler, Phil Bates and Kris Durham are going to have to prove to Carroll that they can help the team’s depth at receiver.