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Lessons learned from Seahawks first preseason game

Without three starters on the O-line Seahawks QB Russell Wilson was sacked twice in 18 plays on Thursday. (Associated Press)
Without three starters on the O-line Seahawks QB Russell Wilson was sacked twice in 18 plays on Thursday. (Associated Press)
Bob Condotta Seattle Times

DENVER – Aside from finding out that the Seahawks are not infallible in the preseason - their 21-16 loss at Denver snapped a nine-game exhibition winning streak dating to 2011 - here’s what else we learned Thursday night.

O-line health

The lasting impression of this game, aside from penalties and the lightning delay, will be the sight of Seattle quarterbacks running for their lives.

Russell Wilson was sacked twice in the 18 plays he was on the field, and Tarvaris Jackson once. Terrelle Pryor wasn’t sacked, but that was only because of his scrambling ability.

The line issues also helped contribute to struggles in the running game. Neither Robert Turbin nor Christine Michael had much room to operate.

The good news is this should be an anomaly, explained away by the fact Seattle was playing without three injured starting offensive linemen – center Max Unger, left guard James Carpenter and left tackle Russell Okung. Unger and Carpenter could be back next week and Okung should be ready by the start of the regular season, if not earlier.

Still, backups sometimes have to play, and Seattle needs to use the preseason to solidify its depth, as well as the right tackle spot, where rookie Justin Britt played the first half with veteran Eric Winston taking over in the second.

As coach Pete Carroll pointed out, complicating things is that three players who saw action have joined the team since the beginning of training camp.

“We’re just surviving right now,” he said of the offensive line.

“We had guys playing the second team that have only been here three, four days. We’re not very sharp right now. It all showed.”

Maxwell targets

Maxwell was a revelation when inserted into the lineup late last season after the injuries and suspensions of Brandon Browner and Walter Thurmond.

Still, he has just five regular-season starts. And playing on the other side from Richard Sherman means he’s likely to get a lot of attention.

He certainly did against the Broncos as Peyton Manning threw seven passes his way on the first two drives, five of which were complete.

Worth remembering, though, that Denver’s primary receiver on that side, Demaryius Thomas – who caught four balls when defended by Maxwell – is one of the best in the NFL. Maxwell is hardly the first to give up completions to the Manning-Thomas combo.

Denver doesn’t figure to be alone in testing Maxwell this season.

Backup battle

Jackson did as expected in his two drives, completing 5 of 7 passes for 47 yards, leading Seattle to a field goal late in the first half on his initial possession.

Pryor did as expected, too, mixing in spectacular plays - he led the Seahawks in both passing (9 of 16, 137 yards) and rushing (7 carries, 28 yards) - with a few he’d like to have back. Notably, the interception near the end of the game when he tried to squeeze the ball into Ricardo Lockette. The pass was tipped and intercepted.

“I’ve just got to make better decisions, and I will next time,” Pryor said.

Still, for much of the night the 25-year- old Pryor gave evidence of the talent that compelled the Seahawks to trade a seventh-round pick for him last spring.

Jackson’s dependability makes him the perfect backup for a team with Super Bowl aspirations. More performances like Thursday’s by Pryor could make for tough decisions - either on who the backup is, or whether to keep three quarterbacks, something Seattle doesn’t usually do.

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