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Seattle Seahawks

Seahawks mailbag: Level of concern, Lock’s playing time in finale and more

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Drew Lock scrambles out of the pocket in the fourth quarter during a preseason game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Acrisure Stadium on Aug. 13, 2022, in Pittsburgh.  (Getty Images)
By Bob Condotta Seattle Times

SEATTLE, Wash. – You had questions after the Seahawks’ 27-11 loss to the Bears in Game Two of the preseason Thursday. You definitely had questions. Now it’s my turn to try to supply some in our latest Seahawks Twitter mailbag.

Where’s your level of concern after the first two preseason games?

It’s a little higher than it was before the trip to Pittsburgh – the Seahawks simply haven’t looked like a well-oiled unit in any phase of the game yet.

And while there are all the usual caveats – none of the team’s starters in the secondary has yet to play nor has middle linebacker Jordyn Brooks and running back Rashaad Penny, and the top three receivers heading into camp have played a combined six snaps – it’s worth remembering that the Seahawks in the early days of the Pete Carroll era used to dominate the preseason.

Seattle, in fact, went 4-0 in each of the preseasons of 2012 and 2013 winning all but one game by a touchdown or more, something the Seahawks pointed to with pride at the time as evidence of the strength of the roster from top to bottom. We obviously haven’t seen that in this preseason.

But in general, results of preseason games – with many starters playing little if they play at all, and no real game-planning – don’t mean a lot.

The 2008 Detroit Lions famously went 4-0 in the preseason, outscoring their opponents 80-32, before going 0-16 in the regular season. The Seahawks went 0-4 in the preseason in 2018 then went 10-6 in the regular season.

I think everybody wishes it looked a little better so far – it’s worth reiterating many mistakes are made by young players who won’t be on the roster when the season rolls around. And given the team’s quarterback situation and the feeling that Seattle is going to need really good play from a lot of other positions to make the season a success, fans are right to have some skepticism.

But it’s also worth remembering that the preseason these days is almost solely about developing young players, and Seattle has seen some really promising signs from the likes of rookie tackles Charles Cross and Abraham Lucas, edge rusher Boye Mafe and cornerbacks Tariq Woolen and Coby Bryant to offset some disappointment from the final scores.

If we hadn’t seen some of those things, the concern level would be a little higher.

How many quarters do you think Lock plays in the preseason finale?

This is going to be the question of the week leading into the game at Dallas Friday night. It’s hard to really right now with Lock as of Thursday night still dealing with the effects of COVID-19.

“He’s really sick,” Carroll said Thursday night. “It hit him pretty hard.”

And how quickly Lock recovers is doing to determine everything about the week.

The earliest he can return is Sunday. If he were able to do that, there’d be four days to have some good practices and get prepared for the Dallas game – the team is scheduled to leave Thursday afternoon.

Given the uncertainty with Lock, Carroll couldn’t say what the plan would be for this week other than “we’ll figure it out.”

But he made clear the team hopes to get one last, long look at Lock before locking in a starting quarterback.

“I’m still curious to see how he plays with us,” Carroll said. “Yeah, I am. And he’s done enough good things. He’s got some real stuff to him and some real exciting ability and playmaking stuff that you’ll all see when he does get his chances eventually.”

They aren’t considering Cody Barton as a starter are they? Who’s going to start at LB with (Jordyn) Brooks?

They definitely are considering it considering Barton has been listed as the starter at one ILB spot all camp and also started both preseason games. Barton has also played some middle linebacker in camp and in preseason games with Brooks sitting out (Brooks is healthy enough to play now but is just being given the veteran star treatment).

And I think the fact that Brooks has not played and we haven’t seen the Brooks-Barton ILB pairing yet is worth keeping in mind when assessing what you’ve seen so far of the linebacking crew.

What Seattle really liked in the last two games a year ago when Brooks and Barton played together was how they, well, played together. I think they will want to give that pairing a shot heading into the season, as well.

But here’s something else to consider – in the mock game at Lumen Field on Aug. 6, the Seahawks on several plays used a three-safety look in which Jamal Adams essentially replaced Barton as the other ILB. Seattle’s coaches have also talked about that look, mentioning that Barton comes off the field in their dime package.

I think the Seahawks could do a lot of that this year, which if not making Barton a part-time player would at least make him not an every-down player, with the Seahawks finding ways to play to the strengths of the players in the back end.

What is the nickel spot gonna look like? And how does Ryan Neal fit in?

There’s suddenly a really good battle for the nickel spot between veteran Justin Coleman and Bryant. Bryant started playing there the week of the Steelers game and has seen significant snaps in practices and games since then.

Coleman went the entire first half as the nickel against the Bears, indicating he’s still in the lead for that spot with Bryant taking over in the second half. But Coleman’s contract is not prohibitive – a non-guaranteed salary of $1.12 million – so he’s hardly a lock to make the roster if the Seahawks think Bryant can handle it right out of the gate.

Neal has not played in the preseason while dealing with a high ankle sprain and it’s unclear if he will. But once healthy, he projects to have the same role as the last few years – a trusted jack-of-all-trades backup in the secondary.

Is Kevin Kassis a darkhorse candidate to make the team?

To make the 53-man roster? I don’t think so. Nothing against Kassis, who definitely showed up in the second half of the Bears game with four receptions on five targets for 37 yards, two of which converted third downs, I just think the spots on the 53 are going to go to other receivers.

But Seattle figures to keep only five or six receivers, and after the duo of Lockett and Metcalf, the other spots figure to go to three or four of Marquise Goodwin, Dee Eskridge, Bo Melton, Dareke Young, Freddie Swain and maybe J.J. Arcega-Whiteside.

But Kassis, a former star at Montana State who signed with the Seahawks in May, definitely appears to have moved into contention for a practice squad spot. Seattle is likely to keep two or three receivers on the 16-man practice squad.