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Originally published Sunday, August 19, 2012 at 8:51 PM

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Seahawks preseason: What have we learned?

Danny O'Neil takes a look at what questions have been answered through two exhibition games, and which ones remained to be sorted out.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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Well said jyro: Wilson has played exceptionally well, which bodes well for the... MORE
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Halfway through the August schedule, the Seahawks are not half bad.

They've won their first two exhibition games, only the third time that has happened since 1998, and rookie quarterback Russell Wilson is making the second-half battle of substitutes into must-see TV. But it's not the results that matter in August so much as a team's readiness for the regular season, so with that in mind, here's a list of three things we know after Saturday's victory in Denver and three things we're still trying to figure out:

Three things we learned

1. You can't proclaim the pass rush fixed.

At least, not yet. The Seahawks have one sack in each of their two exhibition games, and for all the playing time rookie Bruce Irvin got Saturday in Denver, he didn't spend all that much time near the quarterback. He did get one clear pressure, knocking the quarterback down, and he showed his speed in chasing plays down from behind. He didn't show much in terms of getting around blockers, though. The Seahawks didn't play Jason Jones, the defensive tackle they're expecting to be a big part of their nickel pass rush, and August isn't the time teams typically put their best pass-rush plans on display. But for all the talk this offseason about improving Seattle's pass rush, it hasn't been exhibited so far this month.

2. Seattle's offense is again off and running.

Marshawn Lynch looked great in the quarter he played, gaining 37 yards on his six carries. The rest of Seattle's backfield didn't look too bad, either. The Seahawks had 228 yards rushing, their most in an exhibition game since at least 1999, and the first time since 2005 the team gained more than 200 yards rushing in an exhibition game. As a sign of progress, consider that the Seahawks' 228-yard total Saturday wasn't all that far off their four-game preseason total of 284 yards rushing in Pete Carroll's first year as coach.

3. The Seahawks are deeper this season.

Seattle held Denver to a single first down in the second half, and the Seahawks have outscored opponents 38-14 in the second half so far this month. That speaks to Seattle's depth, which will help withstand the season's inevitable injuries.

Three things we don't know

1. How worried should we be about Seattle's starting offense?

The Seahawks ranked No. 28 in the NFL in total yardage last season, and so far, Seattle's first-string defense has scored one more touchdown than the starting offense, which has yet to reach the end zone. Now, deep breath everyone. The Seahawks aren't quite at full strength. Receivers Sidney Rice and Doug Baldwin have yet to appear in a game, and tight ends Zach Miller and Kellen Winslow have not been on the field at the same time. Still, this offense has a long way to go before it's regular-season ready.

2. Is it still a quarterback competition if Russell Wilson doesn't start this week?

Competition implies the starting job is up for grabs. But for the past two weeks, Matt Flynn has been Seattle's starter while rookie Russell Wilson has come on to play a more compelling second half. Now, that's not an apples-to-apples comparison, as Flynn is playing with a starting offense that doesn't include some of its top receivers while Wilson is facing the lower tiers of the opponent's depth chart. But if Wilson really is part of a three-way competition to start the opener, wouldn't the coaches want to see what he does against the opponent's starters? If Wilson doesn't get that shot, then it's pretty clear the coaches have decided Flynn is the best choice to start, which makes you wonder just how much the exhibition results meant — if anything — in this quarterback competition.

3. Is special teams a concern?

The August difficulties are a surprise because special teams have not only been a strength under Carroll and special-teams coach Brian Schneider, but Seattle's improved depth should provide a better pool of talent for coverage and kick units. But after allowing the Titans to return a punt for a touchdown last weekend, the Seahawks had two punts deflected by Denver's David Bruton on Friday. Rookie safety Winston Guy was attempting to block Bruton on each deflection, but Carroll said specifically afterward that two different players made errors, leading to the two blocks. You don't have to look any further than last year's season-opening loss at San Francisco to know how critical special teams can be.

Danny O'Neil: 206-464-2364 or doneil@seattletimes.com.

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