A look back and a look ahead at the week that was and the week that will be for the Seahawks:
Anatomy of a 31-21 victory over the Oakland Raiders at Qwest Field on Thursday night
Aaron Curry’s full body of work: The team’s first-round draft choice was the only defensive starter that played and, at times, it looked like the rookie linebacker was all the Seahawks would need.
On the Raiders’ first play, Curry blew past tackle Cornell Green, flushing QB JaMarcus Russell into a sack by middle linebacker David Hawthorne. On the Raiders’ last play of the half, Curry collected his own sack, not only dropping Bruce Gradkowski for an 8-yard loss but forcing a fumble that was recovered and returned 16 yards by defensive end Nick Reed to setup a field goal. In between, Curry stopped fullback Luke Lawton for a 1-yard loss and running back Michael Bush for a 4-yard gain on pass plays.
Ben Obomanu’s hands: Yes, he reached out and grabbed the opportunity presented him. But the third-year wide receiver catching a 38-yard touchdown pass was only the most obvious element in Obomanu securing the fifth spot on the roster.
That player also will need to contribute on special teams, which Obomanu did by dropping Raiders punt returner Nick Miller for a 1-yard loss and then popping a 10-yard return of his own.
Olindo Mare’s right leg: The appendage won the veteran kicker the job, for the second summer in a row. Mare kicked a 24-yard field goal, but the deciding factor between him and second-year man Brandon Coutu remained Mare’s ability to drive the ball to the goal line or into the end zone on kickoffs.
Two of Mare’s four kickoffs against the Raiders went for touchbacks, while the other two went 5 and 4 yards into the end zone – only to be returned for 51 and 34 yards, but that’s a coverage issue. Coutu’s kickoffs went to the Raiders 7 and 5, and those were two of his better efforts of the preseason.
Michael Bennett’s heart: How badly did this guy want it? A defensive end at Texas A&M last season, the rookie free agent did most of his damage this summer while playing tackle – at 274 pounds.
Bennett finished the preseason with nine tackles, two sacks, five QB hurries, a tipped pass and a fumble recovery. That’s also why he finished the preseason with a spot on the 53-man roster, as the Seahawks kept 11 defensive linemen.
Max Unger’s restless feet: A funny thing happened in the third quarter. The rookie offensive linemen was not on the field. Really. The Seahawks went with a line that included Will Robinson, Mansfield Wrotto, Brian De Le Puente, Na’Shaun Goddard and Andre Ramsey.
It was a rare rest for Unger, as the team’s second-round draft choice played all 68 offensive snaps in the opener against the Chargers and all but a handful of plays against the Broncos and Chiefs. Unger made the most of the extra work by winning the starting right guard spot. He will become the first rookie lineman to start a season opener for the Seahawks since Steve Hutchinson in 2001.
The week ahead
This is it. Not only the regular-season opener, but against the division rival St. Louis Rams, and at Qwest Field. It creates a triangle of titillation that prompted quarterback Seneca Wallace to offer, “If you don’t come out with your mind right, something is wrong with you. You shouldn’t be at that place.”
The players also will shift into their regular-season schedule – after practicing this afternoon, which is not the norm for in-season Mondays. They will be off tomorrow and then actually game plan for the Rams in practice Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.
The roster also has been dramatically reduced after the moves Saturday and Sunday to get to from 75 players to the league-mandated 53-man limit. Brian Russell, the incumbent starter at free safety, is out. Former University of Washington safety Lawyer Milloy is in – one of 11 new veterans on the team, along with wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh, fullback Justin Griffith, running back Edgerrin James, tight end John Owens, offensive lineman Brandon Frye, defensive linemen Cory Redding and Colin Cole, cornerbacks Ken Lucas and Travis Fisher and snapper Kevin Houser.
The roster also features eight rookies. There are six draft choices – Curry, Unger, Reed, wide receiver Deon Butler, quarterback Mike Teel and tight end Cameron Morrah; and two free agents – Bennett and defensive lineman Derek Walker.
The eight-man practice squad will be announced later today.