Countdown to kickoff

DENVER – Greetings from not Mile High Stadium, not even Invesco Field at Mile High, but Sports Authority Field at Mile High. A new season, a new coach (John Fox) and even a new stadium name for the Broncos.

Some of the Seahawks already are on the field on this toasty afternoon preparing for tonight’s preseason game. This is a big game for the starters – and the fans watching on TV, as well – because they’ll get their longest stint of the preseason. The No. 1 offensive and defensive units will play into, and perhaps most of, the third quarter.

“We may go with the No. 1’s three quarters,” coach Pete Carroll said. “It just depends on what happens.”

What needs to happen for the Tarvaris Jackson-led offense is to score some points. The No. 1 unit has yet to do that in nine possessions in the preseason, when six have ended in punts, one on an interception and another on downs at the Minnesota Vikings’ 1-yard line last weel. We took a longer look at this situation in the advance that was posted on Seahawks.com this morning.

The Broncos’ starters, by contrast, have scored 17 points in four possessions. Kyle Orton will start at quarterback, despite missing time – and losing sleep – this week because his wife gave birth to their first child on Friday – at 3 a.m. Fox also says his starters should play into the third quarter, although he has promised Tim Tebow that he’ll more snaps tonight after the second-year QB threw only two passes last week.

Even though the starters will play more tonight, there will be plenty of action for “the kids,” as Carroll calls the team’s rookies and second-year players. Top draft choices James Carpenter (tackle) and John Moffitt (guard) will continue to start on the right side of the line, and impressive rookie free agent Doug Baldwin has earned the right to see more action in the slot.

On defense, rookie K.J. Wright will start at middle linebacker for David Hawthorne (sore knee) and second-year man Josh Pinkard will start at strong safety for Kam Chancellor (sore foot). Wright and Pinkard already have been productive in the preseason. Wright leads the team with team with 10 tackles, while Pinkard forced a fumble last week that turned an apparent touchdown into a touchback. Now they get a chance to show they can do it with the starters – and against the Broncos’ starters.

In addition to Hawthorne and Chancellor, running back Marshawn Lynch (ankle), tight end John Carlson (shoulder), left tackle Russell Okung (ankle) and rookie defensive end Pierre Allen (hamstring) will not play tonight.

But defensive end Chris Clemons (ankle), wide receiver Ben Obomanu (shoulder) and cornerback Walter Thurmond (ankle) are scheduled to make their preseason debuts after sitting out the first two games. Clemons led the team with a career-high 11 sacks last season and any pressure he can generate against Orton will be a plus. Obomanu started six games last season and averaged a team-best 16.5 yards on 30 receptions. Thurmond is expected to play in the nickel tonight, but he should challenge Kelly Jennings for the starting spot on the right side opposite Marcus Trufant once he gets more time after being out since the second day of training camp.

So, get ready for some football – and a longer look at the starters.

What to expect? “We just want to be more consistent out there,” Jackson said. “We want to make sure we get everything targeted right, get guys going in the right direction for us in protection, make sure I get the ball out accurately and make quick decisions, make sure we get the running game going.”

That about covers it, except for one more thing: Score points.


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