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Saturday, September 21, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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A Grip on Sports: It’s better to play in Minnesota this time of year, though how many key Seahawks will see the field is still up in the air

Seattle Seahawks wide receiver DK Metcalf (14) is tackled by Denver Broncos cornerback Chris Harris after making a catch during the first half of an NFL football preseason game Thursday, Aug. 8, 2019, in Seattle. (Elaine Thompson / Associated Press)
Seattle Seahawks wide receiver DK Metcalf (14) is tackled by Denver Broncos cornerback Chris Harris after making a catch during the first half of an NFL football preseason game Thursday, Aug. 8, 2019, in Seattle. (Elaine Thompson / Associated Press)

A GRIP ON SPORTS • There was a bit of a chill in the air this morning, almost as if autumn was making an early appearance. Or was that just our imagination, fueled by the fact the Seahawks are playing a football game today in Minnesota?

•••••••

• Games in Minnesota have always meant something special in the lexicon of the NFL. Phrases like “bone-chilling cold” and “purple-people eaters,” if not born on the frozen tundra of Minneapolis, were at least popularized there. It always was a cold and hard place, at we’re not just referring to Bud Grant’s facial expressions, though that was a part of it.

But times change, as does the time of year. A preseason game in August includes neither an icy wind nor a snow flurry. It’s mosquitos and humidity instead.

Either way, the Seattle Seahawks face challenges, many of their own making.

Whether the Hawks will attack their second before-the-real-contests-begin game with its starters or not, that’s unclear. Though the plan seemed to have been to start giving the Bobby Wagners and DK Metcalfs of the world some time this week, nicks and bruises may have been derailed those goals.

In other words, the final outcome, as it is in every NFL exhibition game, is immaterial. What is important is the process. Who does his job. Who steps up. Who stays healthy.

That last one, that’s the important one. Every year at least one NFL team sees its postseason hopes basically dashed due to an injury in a game that means squat. Winning this pricey game of health roulette is every team’s goal, including Seattle’s.

So if you do decide to watch (and by examining the TV ratings, I’m pretty sure many of you will), then bring any lucky amulets you can find to the viewing party. After all, if where you stand or what you eat can help your team win in the regular season, it stands to reason that fingering a worn crucifix handed down from your great grandmother can go a long way to ensure Russell Wilson stays in one piece until the games begin for real.

• That gives me an idea. At some point I should ask everyone what their football-watching superstition is.

I’m sure, intellectually, we all know we have nothing to do with the outcome of the game while watching on TV. But that doesn’t stop us from developing habits – nervous ticks, if you will – we feel are lucky. If hopping on one foot while rubbing our head just happened to occur before the Beast Quake, then darn it, I’m hopping on one foot while rubbing my head from here to eternity.

Honestly, it’s what any fan would do. Right?

•••

WSU: Just about every Cougar fan who recognizes me these days wants to know who will start at quarterback this season. My answer is simple: It’s Mike Leach’s decision and I would never try to figure out what he’s thinking. But sometimes Leach drops hints, as he did yesterday following the Cougars’ second scrimmage. Theo Lawson tells us what he said in this story. … Washington State is the first school to sign up with HBO for the “Hard Knocks” type college show. Theo has more. … Speaking of more, Theo has videos of interviews from after the scrimmage with Leach, Tracy Claeys, Justus Rogers, Calvin Jackson Jr., and Anthony Gordon. … Elsewhere in the Pac-12, preseason injuries are not just an NFL thing. They happen to college teams as well. The wide receiving corps for Oregon has been hit hard by them already. … The defense has improved for Oregon State. … The same may be said about Colorado, except, with all the new faces, no one is sure yet. … A Utah defensive lineman still remembers the worst day of his life and uses it to ensure he never wastes another. The story is heartbreaking. … The Utes have figured out their depth chart for the most part. … UCLA guards its nutrition secrets like Fort Knox. … USC seems to be doing the same concerning who will start at quarterback. … What if it all goes bad at Arizona State? … Arizona took advantage of last year’s new redshirt rule to get some players experience.

EWU: The Eagles decided to scrimmage yesterday without starting quarterback Eric Barriere, giving the backups a chance to make a pitch for a higher spot on the depth chart. As Ryan Collingwood relays in this story, Gunner Talkington may have done the most to help himself.

Idaho: The Vandals finished up the camp aspect of preseason practice yesterday with a couple of scrimmages. When they were done, coach Paul Petrino spoke about the difference between this year’s team and last’s. The verdict: There is more speed and size, especially on defense. Peter Harriman has more in this story.

Indians: A dropped routine fly ball led to an eight-run inning and an 8-1 victory over visiting Eugene last night. Dave Nichols was at Avista and has the coverage. … Elsewhere in the Northwest League, Everett lost on the road in Oregon.

Preps: When Andrew Kittredge was pitching at Ferris High, it was pretty obvious his stuff was good enough to get him a long ways in baseball. After a long journey, he’s reached the pinnacle. Ryan talked with the Tampa relief pitcher recently at T-Mobile Park. … Former Cheney High three-sport athlete Eric Hisaw has won a national award for his track and field coaching success at Walla Walla High.

Seahawks: Today’s game should help answer a few questions. … Injuries give other players a chance to show their wares. … Speaking of questions, should the Hawks try to trade for Jadeveon Clowney? Here is one vote for no. … Here’s another question. Will Shaquem Griffin make the roster this season? … Pete Carroll has never acted his age.

Mariners: Kyle Seager continues his late-season spurt (we would call it a salary drive, but he’s secure for a few more years) with a home run in the win at Toronto. … Mallex Smith has been giving Scott Servais heartburn with his decisions lately. So Servais gave Smith a seat on the bench. … Gene Warnick handles the Out of Right Field column chores this week. He covers the elusive nature of success as it relates to Yusei Kikuchi.

Sounders: An early takedown on a breakaway led to Seattle having a man advantage for most of the match with the Los Angeles Galaxy. And yet the visiting Sounders squandered the opportunity. So LA helped, leading to a 2-2 draw. Both teams felt it was a loss.

•••       

• Speaking of superstition, I missed the first few minutes of the Sounders’ match last night. They were doing well so I avoided the rest of the first half. But when they fell behind, I had to help. I sat down and watched them “rally.” OK, that “rally” consisted of the Galaxy playing the role of buffoons, giving up an own goal from outside the box. Thus, a road draw was born. And everyone involved left shaking their heads. See, I was good luck. Until later …

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