Observations from the Seattle Seahawks' first preseason game:
It was great to see Matt Hasselbeck at quarterback again. He completed 3 of 5 passes, but one of the incompletions was a third-down drop by tight end John Carlson.
Seneca Wallace fans will again bang the drum for him to start, simply because he threw a TD pass, but if Wallace really is better than Hasselbeck, why hasn’t he been starting for the past four years? You heard it here first: Hasselbeck will go to the Pro Bowl again, and the Seahawks will win the NFC West.
Punter Jon Ryan was awesome. All but one of his punts went at least 45 yards, and he boomed a 77-yarder from Seattle’s 23-yard line with two minutes left in the game. He averaged 52.4 yards on eight kicks, with a stellar net of 41.1.
Not sure why the Packers let this guy go last year, but the three-year veteran is the best punter the Hawks have had since Jeff Feagles left in 2003.
Rookie defensive end Nick Reed, a seventh-round pick, acquitted himself well in his first NFL game. He had a sack and an interception while playing with the reserves. The guy was all over the field and might have put himself in the picture if the Hawks plan to keep nine D-linemen.
New defensive starters Cory Redding and Colin Cole made their presence known early. Redding had a sack on the first play of the game, and Cole was very active throughout his first-quarter appearance.
Safety Deon Grant was very involved as well. He shadowed Pro Bowl TE Antonio Gates all over the place. Gates caught two, including one for a first down. But Grant was always right there and blanketed Gates on an incomplete deep sideline pass on third down.
Linebacker Leroy Hill was all over the place, tracking down the Chargers’ speedy running backs or covering Gates downfield. First-round linebacker Aaron Curry didn’t make much of an impact. He had two tackles, and his speed was on display in one of them as he chased a receiver out of bounds after a 14-yard gain.
The first-team O-line, which was without LT Walter Jones, held up pretty well in its new configuration. The left side, with Sean Locklear at left tackle and Rob Sims at left guard, seemed to be more effective against the Chargers’ starting defense.
Fullback Owen Schmitt looked fine. He hit a key block on Julius Jones’ first run, an eight-yard gain. Word had been that Justin Griffith had outplayed him in practice, but Schmitt seemed to play well against the Chargers.
Nate Burleson is back. Eleven months after tearing his ACL, he caught a ball from Hasselbeck and looked healthy.
With the injury issues the Hawks had at receiver last season, they will probably be safe and keep six this year. And it will be quite a battle for the final two spots behind T.J. Houshmandazdeh, Deion Branch, Burleson, and rookie third-round pick Deon Butler. Courtney Taylor, Ben Obomanu, and Logan Payne got the most action among reserves Saturday.
Taylor had two good catches for first downs on a second-quarter touchdown drive. Obomanu caught two, including a 24-yarder early in the third quarter. Mike Hass caught an 18-yard TD pass from Mike Teel.
Butler didn’t show much in his return chances. He returned two punts and one kickoff for a total of 11 yards. Pretty bad numbers for a guy who was touted for his return ability.
As for receiving, he caught two for seven yards and was blasted just as he was about to haul in another in the second quarter. He looks like a natural receiver who catches the ball with his hands easily.
It will be interesting to see what he can do with a few more chances both as a receiver and return man (Butler might play better if he were wearing a real WR number. He should switch back to No. 85 or pick 88, which also is available).
Cornerback Kelly Jennings may be a good guy and a hard worker, but he just can’t make plays. He’s too small, often gets knocked aside and, even though he’s often in position, he never seems to make a play on the ball. The 2006 first-round pick is as good as he’s going to get, and that’s just not good enough.