Michael Bennett’s going to love this.
Just as the Seahawks were getting on their team bus to SeaTac Airport to fly to tomorrow night’s third preseason game at San Diego, news came out that the league has fined Seattle’s outspoken defensive end for a high hit last week on Kansas City quarterback Alex Smith that in person did not all that illegal.
Bennett got penalized for roughing the passer on the play in the first quarter, the first of two Seattle’s starters played last week.
The fine comes a couple days after Bennett ranted against what he sees as the softness of protected quarterbacks in this league, specifically Philadelphia’s Sam Bradford for complaining about Baltimore’s Terrell Suggs hitting him after a read-option handoff in an exhibition game last week.
Bennett has been one of if not the best Seahawks peformer through two preseason games. He’s been faster than most of the offensive linemen he’s faced, and has spent much of his three quarters over games against Denver and the Chiefs in the foe’s backfield.
The fine? That’s just a sign of the times in the NFL, where protecting quarterbacks is in the best interests of the owners who invest megamillions in them, and the fans and teams who would rather see and absolutely need a starting QB over any backup.
▪ Eric Williams, my predecessor on the Seahawks beat here at The News Tribune who now covers the Chargers for ESPN.com, tells me it was 101 degrees at the Chargers’ facility Friday. Temperatures at Quaalcomm Stadium in Mission Valley east of downtown San Diego are supposed to get into the 90s by the time I get there Saturday afternoon. But it’s a 5 p.m. kickoff on national CBS television, so it won’t be as hot as the broiler in which the Seahawks lost at San Diego last September.
What is it with it being so hot the last two times the Seahawks have gone to usually idyllic San Diego? Too much hairspray in the world, I tell ya.
▪ Here is all that coach Pete Carroll said about this third preseason game, and more, after we talked to him following practice yesterday in Renton:
Head Coach Pete Carroll
August 27, 2015
(On what he wants to see from the starters in the third preseason game) "Hoping to continue to make progress. We’ve done a lot of good things to make some headway here, and learned a lot about our players, and now it’s a really big opportunity for them to show us how far they’ve come. Probably my focus goes to the offensive line and see how they go at again and see how they do. We will play some more plays this week. We look forward to these guys coming out after halftime and playing, and getting ready to play this season, it’s just around the corner."
(On what he’s seen from Russell Wilson) "For the most part I’m evaluating everything that we’ve seen, not the games, you know. He’s had a great camp. Like he should be, he’s the furthest down the road in understanding what we’re doing. His conceptual understanding of what we’re doing is all-time high. And there’s still room to grow, but he’s just really on it. The communication is great, the timing is really starting to pick up and look very consistent with our guys, with our receivers, just making really good progress. He’s had a great camp."
(On if the amount of injuries around the NFL so far has influenced how much he plays his starters in the preseason) "No, we manage our guys the way we do, and we’re fortunately in pretty good shape right now. These guys need to play. They need the play time, they got to get ready. You can’t hide from it, it’s coming. It’s right around the corner, and they need to be fit and mentally right to play four quarters of football two weeks from now, so we got to take this next step."
(On the tempo of practice this week) "It was our just our best week. Yeah, it was our best week by far. We put every day back-to-back with really good focus and really good speed in practice. The competition was there in a lot of areas that made it for a heightened week of practice. You can feel it. It’s getting closer, and it looks like it and they’re showing that by the way they’re preparing and working."
(On what he’s seen from Justin Britt and Garry Gilliam after moving them on the offensive line) "Just continued good stuff. Both feel very comfortable. Particularly, Garry is jumping at the opportunity. This is an extraordinary opportunity coming out of the free agent status just a year ago, and really just trying to make his way and be part of this team. Now he’s got a chance to start, and he recognizes it. Tom [Cable] is really pleased with the way he’s applied himself. His work habits have been great. He feels the responsibility of it, and it looks like he’s giving himself a chance to really take this job. [Justin] Britt, he’s a pro. He was last year as we told you about the attitude that he brings every day and the attention to details and stuff have just carried right over. He jumped into the spot, and he looked like he’d been there a long time. So really, a really good transition for us, one that we’re really excited about that we did it, and it’s good for us at this point. We’ll make some more evaluations after the weekend."
(On the health of the secondary) "It’s getting better. Yeah, we’re getting a little better. Earl [Thomas] got a lot of work this week. He’s getting ready to be in shape to play for the opener. His timing is getting down, his calls, and you can see him fitting his. His intensity that he brings is starting to show up, that’s important. Sherm’s [Richard Sherman] in good shape. Tharold’s [Simon] going to be in good shape to play as well. Cary [Williams] has had a really good preseason with us to this point, and there’s a lot of stuff still happening. The safety spot is still up there. We’re going to see how we do with [DeShawn] Shead and Dion Bailey, and Buck [Ronald] Martin also is going to play a lot in this game too, we’re really anxious to see how he does. So a lot of good things happening back there."
(On how Russell Wilson’s understanding of the offense helps) "It makes everything move more smoothly. He can help on the way to the line of scrimmage as he’s making his calls in the huddle, he can give heads up to the guys, and things that just help us be more confident and play fast. Playing fast is really important to us, and our tempo is really important. All of that really clear communication just adds to all of that, and he’s right in the middle of it of course."
(On what he saw from Mohammed Seisay before he got hurt) "I liked him, I really liked him. He looked the part physically, he ran well, made some plays early on. It’s just a shame for him that he hasn’t had a chance to show, he was making very, very good progress. I don’t know if he’ll get to play this week or not, but next week will be a big week for him of course."
(On if he has to change the defensive scheme without Kam Chancellor playing) "No we’re not changing anything. All that we’ll do over time is we’ll adapt to our players and what they’re good at, that’s kind of how we do it. But scheme-wise, we don’t have to change anything. Our guys fit to do the things we’re asking them to do, but we’ll see. You know Dion Bailey’s a unique football player. He does a lot of really exciting things out there, and there’s some things that maybe we position him in to fit his talents, but that’s nothing new for us that’s just the way we do it."
(On if DeShawn Shead and Dion Bailey are interchangeable) "Well they can both play both spots, but they’re really working at the strong safety spot for their playtime, and try to see who can be the starter."
(On if Richard Sherman will play in the preseason game in San Diego on Saturday) "Yes."
(On the health of Bruce Irvin) "Yeah, he’s back out. He’ll play in this game."
(On the state of the return game) "Well, we’re still gathering information you know, but we’re really excited about Tyler [Lockett]. This is a remarkable kid. He has worked so hard to have his confidence in the right place, to take the responsibility of this job with a team he’s really excited about just adding too, and his mindset has been great. Both phases, punts and kick returns, we think he’s going to be a factor. So that’s really a positive. That’s exactly what we had hoped to get, but his addition doesn’t stop there. He is going to play from scrimmage too. He’s done a great job giving everybody confidence that he can play and run the routes, and catch the ball when the ball is coming to him, and all that stuff. So he’s been a great addition for us."
(On Tharold Simon) "He’s competing to play but he hasn’t had much of a chance yet. But we know him as a dominant physical guy out there. It’s the kind of guy we like, so he adds to our makeup. If he can get ready to play football and does a good job the next couple weeks then that just makes us stronger and allows us some flexibility for match ups and things like that, that we might be able to take advantage of."
(On starting either Dion Bailey or DeShawn Shead) "We don’t have to do that yet. Don’t know yet. We’re going to keep playing."
(On the O-line) "In this case, we’re going to let them keep playing. Continuity is important but we’re only going to get so aged at this time. This is the second week these guys have played together so we can’t get that experienced at this time. But it is really important that they keep talking the same language and playing the best as they can. We’ll keep them together. The younger guy that will get in there, they will just get in there and fight for their life at this point and they’re all doing that. So we’re looking at it a little differently. You all have a good point but we’re not going to do anything about how we play or how much we play."
(On Kam Chancellor) "Everything is as it’s been. At this point it is important for us to continue to look, the opener is coming and we got to get those guys ready to play. So that’s what we’re doing."
(On Marshawn having a chance to play in Game three) "He does! I love how you asked that way. We’ll see."
(On Ryan Murphy in Game three) "Yes, he has a chance to go. This is really important for Ryan. He just has had few limited opportunities to make a sense of anything so we’re anxious to see if he can get out there to do some stuff. Special teams as well. He looks like a good football player, we just got to see what happens."
(On flags in the first few games) "This is not the way we want to go. We set out to not to let this happen so we’re going to see if we can correct this the next couple weeks. We don’t need to be making it hard on ourselves, it’s hard enough as it is. We’re working very diligently to see if we can get that cut down and not let that be a factor."
(On teams around the league trying for two more during this preseason) "I have thought about that. And I would think the trend would continue through the preseason."
(On if he thinks it will continue into the regular season) "What I would look towards is the guys have voted for that. They seem to be more advocates of it, you might see more from those guys."
(On Russell compartmentalizing all of the extra stuff he’s involved in off the field) "That’s a good question because he does do that very well. I think it’s not too big for him. He takes it in stride. He never loses sight of most important to him. He demonstrated great ability to always be ready for everything that is going on here. He won’t miss anything that is here, he is always going to be there for us. I just think it comes from confidence. He can handle the situations and they aren’t too big for him. Certainly playing football isn’t."
(On Carroll talking to Russell about multi-tasking) "We do talk a lot, about what’s going on, what’s coming. Just staying in connection with all that he’s going through. It’s a lot. He has tremendous responsibility and he handles it beautifully. We try to just stay on topic. I don’t want him to be too far away from all of the things that we communicate on that keeps us close to football. He doesn’t let that happen but I’m on top of that."
(On Tarvaris Jackson returning next week) "That’s the hope. The hope is he can get back next week and get a little play time before we start."
(On Chris Matthews) "He got out there today for the first time. He looks like he has a chance to make it back next week. He should be able to play next week for us."
(On Jesse Williams) "Yes, Jesse was sick so he missed a little time here. But he’s back in action today and ready to play. I’m really anxious to see Jesse do his thing. Under the circumstances he’s been involved with. This is amazing that he’s come through and is working so hard and doing so well. He’s got a chance to help us. We’ve always looked for the big steady dude in there to get in the combination of our rotation. He’s got a chance to do that. He’ll get a good chance again this week."
(On Demarcus Dobbs) "He practice today and he has a chance to play in the game."
Here is what coach Pete Carroll