OAKLAND, Calif. – Thomas Rawls is back.
Jeremy Lane sat. During the national anthem.
Garry Gilliam appeared to get the better of game-long alternating at right tackle with J’Marcus Webb in the final auditions for the last starting job left to determine before the
And undrafted rookie Troymaine Pope helped his long-shot chance to make the roster as a backup running back and special-teams player.
That was the high – or, depending on your social and political bent, low – points of the Seahawks’ 23-21 victory over Oakland in the preseason finale Thursday night at the Coliseum.
Lane, the Seahawks’ veteran defensive back, put himself into the national controversy of Colin Kaepernick not standing for the anthem before an NFL game. Lane followed what the San Francisco quarterback did last week, sitting alone on Seattle’s bench to protest racial inequality.
The winning points came when Eric Pinkins, once a candidate for the starting strong-side linebacker job won by veteran Mike Morgan, stormed in free on Raiders rookie quarterback Connor Cook. Cook threw a flailing ball that defensive end Ryan Robinson leaped to snare with his big paws. Robinson looked anything but defensive-lineman like while sprinting 42 yards the other way for the game’s only touchdown.
That made it 16-8. A pass interference penalty in the end zone on backup cornerback Tharold Simon, who has been plagued by those and injuries in his four Seahawks seasons, set up Oakland’s 1-yard touchdown run by George Atkinson III with just more than 2 minutes left. On the Raiders’ two-point try to tie it, Pinkins came out of short pass coverage to stop Cook short of the goal line on the rookie QB’s roll-out run.
Pope’s 33-yard run with under 2 minutes left set up Alex Collins’ 1-yard touchdown run with 1:15 left to make it 23-14. Atkinson ran past Seattle’s Tye Smith on an 81-yard touchdown on the ensuing kickoff for the final points with 1:01 remaining.
Seattle went 3-1 this preseason.
Seattle’s starters on offense and defense left after one drive – save for Gilliam and Webb. They alternated at right tackle, getting four drives each deep into the third quarter.
Rawls entered to begin the second offensive drive, his first game action since the replacement for retired Marshawn Lynch as Seattle’s lead running back broke his ankle and tore ligaments Dec. 13 in a game at Baltimore. Running deep in his own territory – and, notably, away from the baseball dirt of the Coliseum’s field, Rawls carried the ball behind right guard Germain Ifedi into a wall of Raiders for a 1-yard loss on his first play. On his second, he showed two of the cuts that made him the NFL’s leader in yards per carry as an undrafted rookie. He shook a Raider with one of those moves to get 8 yards.
On third down, Rawls exited. Rookie C.J. Prosise took his role as the new third-down back. And Seattle’s offense with backup quarterback Trevone Boykin punted for one of its six times in the first three quarters.
The Raiders punted seven times in the first three quarters, an indication how most of this game went.
Pope provided the night’s only spark. First, the undrafted rookie from Jacksonville State got Seattle’s offense past midfield for only the second time in three quarters. After 78-year-old (almost) Sebastian Janikowski’s second field goal put the Raiders ahead 5-0, Pope took the kickoff from his end zone. He cut right, made a Raider miss near the 20 and finished a 60-yard return to the Oakland 44.
That set up Steven Hauschka’s field goal to cut the Raiders’ lead to 5-3.
Then in the fourth quarter a 20-yard run by rookie fifth-round pick Alex Collins, his first big run after a preseason of no holes and few yards, and a roughing-the-passer penalty on Oakland after Boykin threw a pass incomplete set up Pope’s 5-yard touchdown run. Seattle led 16-8.
Right tackle is the final starting job the Seahawks need to determine before the games get real Sept. 11 against Miami, and it appears Gilliam will win it. He appeared to get the better of play Thursday, as he did all month in practices. Last season’s starting right tackle moved back there from left tackle this month after Webb sprained his knee. Gilliam started all four preseason games at right tackle.
Webb, the former Raider whom Seattle signed in March for two years with $2.75 million guaranteed, joined veteran backup right guard Jahri Evans in double-teaming a Raiders defensive lineman in the second quarter. That left Oakland’s Shilique Calhoun to run free around Webb’s right shoulder to sack Boykin and ruin another drive.
Gilliam was in when Raiders swarmed from the outside around him and backup left tackle George Fant in the second quarter, with the Seahawks backed up near their goal line
The team must cut 22 players from the roster by Saturday afternoon’s league deadline to get to a 53-man roster for the regular season.
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