Observations from the second preseason game …
**This is not Mike Holmgren’s West Coast offense. Offensive coordinator Greg Knapp is showing a lot of creativity and flexibility.
He obviously plans to use the shotgun extensively, and the Hawks showed a repertoire of trick plays, deep passes, and screen passes against Denver.
The end-around pass by Deion Branch didn’t work, but it showed that the Hawks will be aggressive on offense.
With his receivers being blanketed for most of the half, Knapp turned to the screen pass on the two-minute scoring drive at the end of the half.
And just wait until the season starts, when we'll finally see Seneca Wallace on the field with Matt Hasselbeck.
**T.J. Houshmandzadeh took a lot of heat for proclaiming that he and Hasselbeck will have Pro Bowl years as they lead the Hawks to the playoffs. But it looks like they have a great shot at it.
They started hot vs. Denver, with two connections on the first drive. Then Hasselbeck couldn’t find many open guys until the last drive, when he hit Houshmandzadeh three times, including a 2-yard fade for the touchdown.
He had just missed Houshmandzadeh on a longer TD pass attempt two plays before that.
**With Nate Burleson out, rookie Deon Butler started at receiver and looked very good. He caught a 34-yard touchdown pass from Hasselbeck on a go route on the first drive.
He also made a nice catch on third down on another first-half drive. He looks very good as a receiver.
But he continues to show little as a return man. His first three kickoff returns went 15, 9 and 12 yards, all very unacceptable returns. Of course, it would help if he got some better blocking.
**The biggest problem on offense was the play of LT Sean Locklear. He had one false start and gave up two sacks, to Kenny Peterson and Elvis Dumervil. He recently admitted that the transition from right tackle to left has been difficult, and it was apparent against the Broncos.
Why do we have a feeling Locklear is not the LT of the future? With Walter Jones probably out for at least the first couple of games, Locklear has to get better. On top of that, the Hawks definitely need some depth at tackle.
Locklear always seems to miss time, so the Hawks have to find another guy who can back up Locklear and RT Ray Willis. The Hawks were interested in Levi Jones earlier this offseason, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see them sign him soon.
Also, center Chris Spencer got hurt again, leaving with a leg injury. The guy can’t stay healthy. Fortunately, Steve Vallos got a lot of experience last season, and there won’t be any drop-off if he’s in for Spencer. But there's also not much depth anymore.
**With Julius Jones out with a bruised thigh, T.J. Duckett and Justin Forsett got all of the first-team action. Forsett stood out for his work on the second touchdown drive, when he caught six passes for 54 yards, mostly on screen passes.
**Nick Reed continued his strong preseason, with a blocked punt in the third quarter that set the Hawks up at the Denver 29-yard line for a short touchdown drive. His hustle also resulted in a personal foul penalty in the fourth quarter after he went too low to QB Chris Simms.
But he was in on a sack shortly after that and added another sack later in the quarter (he knocked the ball out of QB Tom Brandstater’s hands, but Brandstater fell on the ball). That’s 2.5 sacks, an interception and a blocked punt in two games for Reed.
Based on his special-teams ability, he should easily beat out the unexciting Baraka Atkins for the ninth D-line position.
**The defense made Kyle Orton & Co. look good. The Broncos rolled up 208 yards in the first half and scored on their first two drives and drove from their 13 to Seattle’s 1 with three minutes left.
But the Hawks came up with the big stop, intercepting a fourth-down pass in the end zone to start Seattle’s go-ahead drive at the 20.
**Jon Ryan will be a huge weapon this season. He was a very nice find by president Tim Ruskell last year. The Packers cut Ryan after Week 1 of the 2008 season and the Hawks picked him up to replace Ryan Plackemeier.
Ryan went on to average 45.6 yards per punt. He’s booming them this preseason, too. In the first game, he averaged 52.4 yards on eight kicks, including a 77-yarder. Against Denver, he averaged 50.8 yards on six kicks.
One side note: He probably should refrain from jumping into piles to help recover fumbles, as he did on a 57-yard punt in the third quarter.
**Brandon Coutu continues to get most of the action in the kicking battle, and it might be because the Seahawks are featuring him with the intent of trying to trade him.
Coutu kicked two field goals against Denver, from 22 and 52 yards. His kickoffs went to the 5, 11, 7 and 4. He is now 4 for 4 on field goals this preseason.
**Was that Bill Belichick Jr. on the Denver sideline? Josh McDaniels, Denver’s 33-year-old rookie coach, was wearing a hoody, apparently trying to channel his mentor.
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