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Originally published August 8, 2014 at 2:35 PM | Page modified August 9, 2014 at 6:51 PM

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Seahawks: What we learned from exhibition loss at Denver

The Seahawks need their offensive linemen to get healthy; Byron Maxwell should get ready to see a lot of passes thrown his way; Terrelle Pryor is making the backup quarterback competition interesting.


Seattle Times staff reporter

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DENVER – Aside from finding out that the Seahawks are not infallible in the preseason — their 21-16 loss at Denver snapped a nine-game exhibition winning streak dating to 2011 — here’s what else we learned Thursday night.

1. The offensive line needs to get healthy.

The lasting impression of this game, aside from penalties and the lightning delay, will be the sight of Seattle quarterbacks running for their lives.

Russell Wilson was sacked twice in the 18 plays he was on the field, and Tarvaris Jackson once. Terrelle Pryor wasn’t sacked, but that was only due to his scrambling ability.

The line issues also helped contribute to struggles in the running game. Neither Robert Turbin nor Christine Michael had much room to operate.

The good news is this should be an anomaly, explained away by the fact Seattle was playing without three injured starting offensive linemen — center Max Unger, left guard James Carpenter and left tackle Russell Okung. Unger and Carpenter could be back next week, and Okung should be ready by the start of the regular season, if not earlier.

Still, backups sometimes have to play, and Seattle needs to use the preseason to solidify its depth, as well as the right tackle spot, where rookie Justin Britt played the first half with veteran Eric Winston taking over in the second.

As coach Pete Carroll pointed out, complicating things is that three players who saw action have joined the team since the beginning of training camp.

“We’re just surviving right now,’’ he said of the offensive line. “We had guys playing the second team that have only been here three, four days. We’re not very sharp right now. It all showed.’’

2. Opponents are going to target Byron Maxwell.

Maxwell was a revelation when inserted into the lineup late last season after the injuries and suspensions of Brandon Browner and Walter Thurmond.

Still, he has just five regular-season starts. And playing on the other side from Richard Sherman means he’s likely to get a lot of attention.

He certainly did against the Broncos as Peyton Manning threw seven passes his way on the first two drives, five of which were complete.

Worth remembering, though, that Denver’s primary receiver on that side, Demaryius Thomas — who caught four balls when defended by Maxwell — is one of the best in the NFL. Maxwell is hardly the first to give up completions to the Manning-Thomas combo.

But Denver doesn’t figure to be alone in testing Maxwell this season.

3. The backup quarterback battle could get interesting.

Jackson did as expected in his two drives, completing 5 of 7 passes for 47 yards, leading the Seahawks to a field goal late in the first half on his initial possession.

Pryor did as expected, too, mixing in spectacular plays — he led the Seahawks in both passing (9 of 16, 137 yards) and rushing (7 carries, 28 yards) — with a few he’d like to have back. Notably, the interception near the end of the game when he tried to squeeze the ball in to Ricardo Lockette. The pass was tipped and intercepted.

“I’ve just got to make better decisions, and I will next time,’’ Pryor said.

Still, the 25-year-old Pryor gave evidence of the talent that compelled Seattle to trade a seventh-round pick for him last spring.

Jackson’s dependability makes him the perfect backup for a team with Super Bowl aspirations. But more performances like Thursday’s by Pryor could make for tough decisions — either on who the backup is, or whether to keep three quarterbacks, something Seattle doesn’t usually do.

Notes

• The local telecast of the game on Channel 13 drew a 24.6 rating in the Seattle-Tacoma market and a 45 share, with 682,000 estimated viewers, according to the station.



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