Seattle Seahawks' Pregame Primer: A Fifth Preseason Game

Chris CluffCorrespondent IISeptember 13, 2009

KANSAS CITY, MO - AUGUST 29: Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck #8 of the Seattle Seahawks looks to throw a pass against the Kansas City Chiefs during their preseason game at Arrowhead Stadium on August 29, 2009 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

It’s a good thing the Seahawks get a fifth preseason game, because they have a lot of unsettled issues as the season begins.

The Hawks couldn’t have asked for a better first game than to play the St. Louis Rams at Qwest Field (unless it was the Detroit Lions, of course).

Both teams have shaky situations on the offensive line, which could affect the running games. Last September, Julius Jones ran for 140 yards and a touchdown against the Rams, who do not have DT Adam Carriker this time. This should be a good starter game for the Hawks’ revised rushing attack.

In fact, it should be a good ramp-up game all around for the Seattle offense. The Rams’ defense was almost as bad as the Seahawks’ last season, so the Seattle line should be able to get in a groove and give Matt Hasselbeck time to find T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Nate Burleson and company.

The Seahawks’ defense gets a similarly easy first matchup, as Rams quarterback Marc Bugler has a bad finger on his throwing hand and the Rams’ line is a work in progress. Steven Jackson is a beast, and he will be a good test for the Hawks’ linebackers.

And it will be interesting to see how the Rams' inexperienced receivers fare against a thin Seattle secondary that is without Marcus Trufant and just added 35-year-old safety Lawyer Milloy.

But this game should go to Seattle. After all, the Hawks have won five of their last six home openers, Hasselbeck has beaten the Rams six straight times and two of their four wins last season came against the Rams.

Three & out: Q&A

Three quick questions as the Hawks enter their first game:

Q: What will old-timers Edgerrin James and Lawyer Milloy give the Hawks?

A: A little veteran savvy. James will spell Jones, getting up to 30 percent of the carries, according to coach Jim Mora. Milloy’s role for the first game is less defined, but since the Hawks have only six healthy defensive backs, he probably will be the dime DB.

Q: Will Walter Jones and Chris Spencer be back next week?

A: Odds are Jones will be and Spencer won’t. Either way, the Hawks really should invest in a veteran tackle for depth on Monday. With only two reserves, Mansfield Wrotto and new OT Brandon Frye, they really should have kept Kyle Williams on the active roster as well (instead of 11 D-linemen).

Q: Will Deion Branch ever be healthy?

A: The answer, quite obviously, is no. Whatever he gives the Hawks this season will be a bonus. And it looks like he’ll be on his way out in 2010—after getting paid over $27 million. Meanwhile, rookie Deon Butler figures to get a lot of playing time this year, along with Ben Obomanu.

Game-day stats

**Since realignment in 2002, the Seahawks are tied for second in the league with five playoff berths and tied for third with four division titles.

**Hasselbeck holds Seattle records for career passer rating (86.2) and 300-yard games (15), and in 2007 he set team records for attempts (562), completions (352) and passing yards (3,966). And you think Seneca Wallace or Mark Sanchez is better?

**Houshmandzadeh has caught a league-best 294 passes since 2006.

**The Seahawks will travel 29,054 miles this season—as usual, the most in the NFL. In the past two years, they have traveled over 63,000 miles, most in the league. Their shortest trip is next week, when they head to San Francisco.

**For what it’s worth, the Seahawks were one of three teams (Miami and Baltimore) to finish the preseason undefeated. That’s the first time the Seahawks have ever done that.

For this week's NFL picks and power rankings, plus season previews of the AFC and NFC, go Outside The Press Box.