SEATTLE (AP) If this offseason for the Seattle Seahawks is about getting past what happened at the end of their Super Bowl loss to New England, then another step comes Friday night.
It may just be preseason, but the Seahawks will finally get on the field in their exhibition opener against Denver.
Don’t expect to see much of Russell Wilson, although he’s likely to throw his first pass since Malcolm Butler’s goal-line interception in the final seconds that preserved the Patriots’ 28-24 victory. And don’t expect to see Peyton Manning other than as a spectator on the sideline.
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But there are important areas to watch for with each team as the preseason begins:
LINE OF CONCERN: Both the Seahawks and Broncos have issues on the offensive line that’ll begin to shake out on Friday. The Broncos are working in an offensive line that includes three players with zero NFL starts: rookies Ty Sambrailo and Max Garcia and Matt Paradis, who was on the practice squad all last season. The right tackle is veteran Ryan Harris and the stalwart of the line is Louis Vasquez, who returns to his natural position at right guard after serving as the team’s right tackle down the stretch last year. Manning has four newcomers and five players in new spots this season.
The Seahawks are only trying to fill two spots but they are vitally important. Veteran center Max Unger is now in New Orleans while left guard James Carpenter left in free agency. Lemuel Jeanpierre and Drew Nowak have taken the lead in the center competition, while as many as four players have run with the first-team at left guard during training camp.
LEGION OF WHOM?: Earl Thomas is still recovering. Kam Chancellor is holding out. And Richard Sherman is now dealing with a minor hip flexor injury. There won’t be many familiar faces in Seattle’s secondary for the preseason opener. Safety will be an area to watch with Dion Bailey and DeShawn Shead getting time at strong safety with Chancellor gone, and Steven Terrell starting at free safety.
KICK THINGS OFF: The Broncos’ biggest question mark is at kicker, where neither Connor Barth nor Brandon McManus have grabbed hold of the competition. But coach Gary Kubiak doesn’t want to keep three kickers – including punter Britton Colquitt – because that would steal a roster spot from other position groups. Barth is accurate on field goals but struggles on kickoffs, while McManus is great on kickoffs but spotty on field goals.
LINEBACKER WATCH: With Denver’s Danny Trevathan (knee) and Brandon Marshall (foot) coming off offseason surgeries, they’ll sit this one out. Todd Davis, Steven Johnson, Lamin Barrow, Corey Nelson, Reggie Walker, and especially Zaire Anderson will all get a chance to impress. Anderson, an undersized rookie from Nebraska, has made spectacular plays in camp on a regular basis.
THE COMEBACK: One of the best stories of the preseason for Seattle is the recovery of defensive tackle Jesse Williams after having a cancerous kidney removed less than three months ago. Williams returned to practice last week and head coach Pete Carroll said on Thursday that Williams should have a chance to play on Friday.
”What a story. He’s never, never hinted that he wouldn’t make it back and get ready,” Carroll said. ”He’s practiced well. We’ll control the number of snaps he plays. He’s going to be out there battling. I think it’s a great tribute to the kid. He’s a real competitor.”
AP Pro Football Writer Arnie Stapleton contributed to this report.
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