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Originally published August 24, 2014 at 5:28 PM | Page modified August 27, 2014 at 9:08 PM

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A look ahead as Seahawks prepare for final exhibition at Oakland

Offense could be even better than thought, illegal contact might be overblown and Terrelle Pryor has one more week to make the team.


Seattle Times staff reporter

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All that’s left for the Seahawks between now and their Sept. 4 season opener against Green Bay is a quick trip to Oakland on Thursday.

As is custom for the final exhibition game, though, it’s expected the starters will play little, some maybe not at all, with most of the snaps going to backups fighting for final roster spots.

So anything we’re going to learn about the Seahawks as a team in the preseason is pretty much in the books.

Here’s one thing about the offense we’ve learned, one about the defense, and one notable question that remains:

1. Maybe the offense really can catch up to the defense.

That’s become an oft-stated goal of late for the offense, and Friday’s performance gave more evidence it may be achievable. And maybe easily.

Seattle’s No. 1 offense (as defined by those in which Russell Wilson was the quarterback) scored on five of six drives against the Bears and has scored on 10 of 12 in the preseason with eight touchdowns, two field goals, one missed field goal and one punt.

This is a confident team to begin with. But the preseason success has only added to it.

“I think we can be extremely dangerous,’’ receiver Doug Baldwin said after the 34-6 win over the Bears. “The biggest thing is not what we can do, but if we can keep everybody healthy. That’s our biggest concern. Everything else will all play itself out.’’

And while some of the reasons for the apparent offensive improvement this year are obvious — such as, a healthy Percy Harvin — some are more subtle. Baldwin pointed to the fact that Wilson is now in his third year and working with an offensive line that also projects to feature four starters who have been with him now for three years. That, Baldwin said, should allow for the team to improve its in-game calls up front.

“First and foremost (reason for improvement) is Russell and the offensive line will communicate better and they are going to get protections up front called better, which is going to enable us as receivers to make plays and get down the field,’’ Baldwin said.

2. Maybe the NFL’s new emphasis on illegal contact and defensive pass interference and its potential impact on the Seahawks is a little overblown.

While there’s been a lot of talk that the new emphasis was aimed in part at Seattle’s physical style (Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones this week flatly blaming the Legion of Boom for the hubbub), the Seahawks haven’t been affected by it much through three games.

In fact, Seattle’s starting defense has yet to be called for an illegal contact or pass- interference penalty through three exhibition games. Seattle was called for one pass interference against the Bears, in the fourth quarter on Phillip Adams, and was called for three illegal-contact penalties in the second half last week against the Chargers, two of which the NFL later told the Seahawks were incorrect. That came in games in which there were a combined 68 pass attempts.

The usual caveats apply that it’s just the preseason.

But safety Earl Thomas said it shows that the Seahawks can have success playing defense however the NFL wants to call it.

“We are always going to adjust because we are competitors,’’ Thomas said. “Coaches always harp on it and we make sure we are aware of those situations when we can be penalized. . … We take it upon ourselves. We are not going to let them dictate what we do. We are going to be physical, we are going to play hard, we are going to be aggressive. But at the same time we are still going to make it tough on them (the officials). They can’t keep calling PI the whole game and they are not going to call PI the whole game.’’

3. The backup QB situation may be more muddled than ever — or maybe it’s not.

Terrelle Pryor was one of the big stories of the first two weeks, but barely played against the Bears, as had been planned with the goal to get Wilson and Tarvaris Jackson most of the work. Pryor got just eight snaps to end the game, and they weren’t real pretty as he underthrew one pass to an open receiver and then tossed an interception on an ill-fated attempt to escape a rush.

While Pryor’s ability to make big plays happen with his feet is undeniable, his passing has remained a work in progress. He is 10 of 22 for 147 yards with two interceptions with a passer rating of 29.9 (Wilson’s is 121.7 and Jackson’s is 78.6).

Expect Pryor to get a lot of work at Oakland, where he was the starter a year ago, with Seahawks coach Pete Carroll saying after the Chicago game that a decision on the backup quarterback spot is “going to go through next week.’’

Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or bcondotta@seattletimes.com. On Twitter @bcondotta.



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