Billionaire Pual Allen won’t play a down.
It won’t matter to the Seattle Sawhawks’ long-suffering fans. They’ll know he’s on their side when they see his new team on the field tonight.
Chad Brown, Willie Williams, Bennie Blades and Warren Moon - who all became members of the Seahawks as expensive free agents during the off-season - will make their Kingdome debuts as Allen’s employees when Seattle plays the Arizona Cardinals in an exhibition game.
It will be the Seahawks’ first game here since Allen bought the team from Ken Behring.
Allen, who co-founded the Microsoft Crop. with Bill Gates in the late 1970s, won approval for a new $425 million stadium from the state’s voters on June 17. In return, Seahawks fans got the NFL’s richest owner.
The Seahawks played in the Hall of Fame game in Canton, Ohio, last Saturday, losing to Minnesota 28-26.
This week, coach Dennis Erickson plans to play his No. 1 offensive and defensive units more than they played against the Vikings.
Quarterback John Friesz and the offensive starters will play four series after being on the field for 11 plays last week. The No. 1 defense, with Brown at linebacker, Blades at strong safety and Williams at cornerback, will play more after getting in for 17 plays against the Vikings.
“The No. 1 thing is we’ve got to tackle better,” Erickson said. “We just tackled very poorly in the first football game. We’ve got to improve ourselves in total execution, offensively and defensively.”
Seattle’s offensive line will be minus the two players who are expected to be its starting tackles this season: 10-year veteran Howard Ballard and rookie Walter Jones.
Ballard will miss the Arizona game with a sore right knee and Jones, the sixth player chosen in this year’s draft, has not signed a contract. Also unsigned is top draft pick Shawn Springs, a cornerback who will become a starter when he joins the team. Springs was the third player drafted in April.
Like the Seahawks, the Cardinals were 7-9 last season. Unlike the Seahawks, the Cardinals didn’t change owners.
Vince Tobin will begin his second season as Arizona’s coach and is trying to strengthen the Cardinals’ offensive line with the same starters he had last season: Lomas Brown, Rob Selby, Mike Devlin, Anthony Redmon and Joe Wolf.
The big knock on the Cardinals has been their inability to open holes on running plays. In 1995, Garrison Hearst was the only back in NFL history to rush for 1,000 yards and only score one TD.
Last year, Arizona rushed for eight TDs, but two were long bursts by LeShon Johnson while he was still a surprise weapon, and another was on a scramble by Boomer Esiason.
The Cardinals led the NFL in first downs passing (214) but were last in first downs rushing (70).
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