Seahawks 31, Chargers 10: Five things we learned
Stephen Williams could contribute, Benson Mayowa might make the team, and other observations from the first exhibition game of the season.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Broncos @ Seahawks, 7 p.m., Ch. 13
SAN DIEGO — Here are five things we learned during Seattle’s 31-10 exhibition opening win over the Chargers here Thursday night:
1. Stephen Williams could become a contributing receiver for the Seahawks this season.
The loss of Percy Harvin for 3 to 4 months opens up a roster spot, and likely a contributing role, for someone who might otherwise have been on the outside looking in. Williams, a fourth-year pro who started three games for Arizona in 2010 but missed last year with an Achilles injury, looks ready to fill that void, catching two deep Tarvaris Jackson passes of 41 and 42 yards for the offensive highlights of the night.
“He’s been making plays on the deep ball,’’ said coach Pete Carroll. “He’s big and fast. He’s 6-5, a 4.4 (40-yard dash time) guy and he has the dimensions that we love in that kind of receiver. We don’t want all our receivers like that, but we love a big guy; we’ve had success with that over the years, and to see him vying for that kind of spot is darn exciting.’’
2. Benson Mayowa might really make the team.
Mayowa, who played at Idaho, is quickly becoming the true Cinderella story of this camp. He was initially spotted by Seattle at a regional combine and then signed after a tryout at the team’s rookie minicamp in May. The 6-foot-3, 252-pounder has shown the kind of speed and moves off the edge that the Seahawks like, and because of injuries to some of the veteran players at defensive end, Mayowa could find his way onto the roster.
“Benson has got our attention in camp and it carried over to the game,’’ Carroll said. “He’s very quick off the edge and unusually gifted. ... We’re excited about what he might be able to contribute.’’
3. The Seahawks’ return game may be OK.
Seattle expected Harvin to handle kickoff returns and let Leon Washington — who handled both punts and kickoffs last year — go after they acquired Harvin.
That means Seattle will have a completely different return game this year than last season and will spend the preseason trying out alternatives. Walter Thurmond (46 yards) and Will Blackmon (19) each had good punt returns, as did free-agent rookie Perez Ashford (two for 29). Tate also could handle some punt returns.
Christine Michael and Jeremy Lane were each back for kickoff returns against the Chargers, and while Michael didn’t get a chance to bring any back, his performance as a tailback (86 yards, 16 carries) impressed Carroll.
“I thought it was a great night for Christine Michael in terms of running the ball,’’ Carroll said.
4. Jackson can still play.
OK, so you’d expect a guy who has made 34 starts to be able to do some damage against a defense filled with deep reserves. Still, Jackson hadn’t been in a game other than a token appearance in an exhibition since the end of the 2011 season, so a little rustiness wouldn’t have been unexpected.
Instead, he hit on 8 of 9 passes and led three straight touchdown drives and appeared to take a big step toward securing the backup job behind Russell Wilson.
5. It’s still too early to worry about the starting offense.
If there was any aspect of the game that elicited angst among fans, it was seeing the No. 1 offense sputter in its two series. The first unit punted on each of its two possessions, getting three first downs overall and 42 yards in 12 plays.
Keep in mind, though, that four starters essentially didn’t play — tailback Marshawn Lynch (who was on the field for a couple plays but didn’t get a carry) and center Max Unger, tight end Zach Miller and Rice, all out with injuries. And teams don’t really game-plan for exhibitions.
Unger and Rice may be back for the Aug. 17 game against Denver and Lynch might also get a few carries, so it would be fairer to make an assessment of the offense after that game.
Carroll said afterward the offense was “staggering our way through the first couple series’’ and that he thought the biggest issue was that the receivers weren’t getting open very well. But he also said he figured the offense would have eventually gotten on track.
“We would get into the second quarter and we try to keep it rolling and get going, and I think we would have,’’ Carroll said.
Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or firstname.lastname@example.org