They could, if the current vision becomes reality, be Seattle’s new SuperSonics.
The Seahawks’ starting defensive line spent the entire first half of Friday night’s 14-13 exhibition loss to Kansas City at Arrowhead Stadium trying different combinations of defensive ends moving inside as hybrid tackles over the Chiefs’ slower guards and center on obvious passing downs.
The Chiefs, who, like the Seahawks, have offensive line issues, often looked like ignored stop signs stuck in the grass as Seattle’s pass-rushers zoomed past.
Michael Bennett, the usual end who was so successful last season moving inside, lined up next to top rookie draft choice and fellow end Frank Clark on third and long in the first quarter. Clark hadn’t practiced all week because of a sore ankle, yet he picked up where he left off in last week’s debut against Denver. He raced in on his first play and deflected an attempted middle-screen pass by Alex Smith to force a Chiefs punt.
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Not bad for a guy the Seahawks listed as “not expected to dress” before Friday’s kickoff.
Expect that defensive front of Bennett and Clark inside with Cliff Avril and Bruce Irvin as ends to be Seattle’s new speed-rush package once the regular season begins Sept. 13 at St. Louis.
“That’s something we’ve been striving for,” coach Pete Carroll said. “That is something we will continue to experiment with.”
The results are great so far. Bennett had three hits on Smith in the first half, including one on the first drive referee Alex Kemp deemed late enough for a 15-yard penalty. Bennett’s sack of Smith in the final seconds of the half ruined Kansas City’s chance to tie or take the lead from the Seattle 35. The Seahawks remained ahead, 10-7, at halftime.
As for depth, Cassius Marsh, the second-year end who’s been speeding past Seattle’s starting offensive linemen all month in practice, entered in the second quarter at end. He got more time with the starters as the coaches continue to see if he can sustain his speed in games. Marsh’s next test comes on Aug. 29 in the third exhibition game at San Diego.
LEGION OF … WHOM? CONTINUED
Defensive backs Richard Sherman (returned Tuesday from a strained hip flexor), Tharold Simon (shoulder) and Will Blackmon (groin) were among the 19 players on the 90-man preseason roster the team listed as “not expected to dress.” All three were in full uniform for pregame drills but then changed into blinding, nuclear-green tops and sweats to watch the game from the sideline.
Carroll said all three could have played had this been a real game, and that all three will play next week in the third exhibition at San Diego.
With Kam Chancellor’s holdout in its 22nd day and Earl Thomas still perhaps a couple weeks from returning following shoulder surgery in February, the starting secondary was anything but the true “Legion of Boom”: DeShawn Shead and Cary Williams as cornerbacks, Dion Bailey at strong safety, Steven Terrell as free safety and rookie Tye Smith as nickel back.
Carroll said he loved how Shead was aggressive in coverage and on balls in the air in his return to his former position, after spending part of practice time this month as the first-team strong safety. Shead knocked down passes on the first drive of each half, the second time on a back-shoulder throw into the end zone. That kept Kansas City from taking the lead, but for only one play: Backup Chase Daniel threw right past backup middle linebacker Brock Coyle for a touchdown on third and goal from the 1, as Seattle’s second-team defense gave up the go-ahead score on its first drive of the game to begin the third quarter.
ARCHER STRAIGHTENS UP
The best thing to happen to R.J. Archer as a Seahawk seems to be Tarvaris Jackson getting hurt.
When Jackson, the Seahawks’ veteran No. 2 quarterback, sustained a high ankle sprain in the third quarter of last week’s exhibition opener, Archer became Russell Wilson’s backup by default. The former Minnesota Viking and Arena League thrower had what can be charitably described as a poor start to training camp, missing receivers who weren’t even being defending in drills. But this week in practice and again Friday night, Archer shined.
He was 5 for 6 passing on the first drive he led, to begin the second half. It ended with a second short field goal of the night for Steven Hauschka, because now-backup left tackle Alvin Bailey didn’t block anyone on a run try off left tackle by Robert Turbin on third and goal from the KC. 3. Turbin lost 6 yards.
Undrafted rookie WR Kasen Williams from the University of Washington entered for the first time on Seattle’s first offensive drive of the second half. On his third play he caught a pass from Archer. … RB Thomas Rawls seemed poised to push 2013 second-round pick Christine Michael for a roster spot. But he’s gotten limited chances in practice and these first two exhibitions. And his dropped screen pass on third down in the third quarter with acres of open field in front of him didn’t help his chances. … The only apparent Seahawks injuries: DT D’Anthony Smith, who got time with the first team in the opening half, left in the third quarter with a rib injury. That was soon after he got a 15-yard foul for roughing the passer to extend Kansas City’s touchdown drive that began the second half. And reserve OL Kona Schwenke went down with a right-knee injury five minutes into the fourth quarter. He did not return and Carroll indicated it could be serious. … The rest of the Seahawks not dressed for the game: S Keenan Lambert (no, he isn’t holding like his older brother Chancellor; it’s an undisclosed injury late this week), QB Tarvaris Jackson (sprained ankle), WR Paul Richardson (knee surgery in January), DT Jordan Hill (unspecified injury), WR Chris Matthews (sprained shoulder), CB Jeremy Lane (recovering from shoulder/knee surgeries), DB Marcus Burley (unspecified injury), S Ryan Murphy (lower leg), CB Triston Wade (unspecified), CB Mohammed Seisay (groin), LB Quayshawn Nealy (injured earlier this week), OT Jesse Davis (injured last week), TE Cooper Helfet (ribs) and DT David King (unspecified).