Countdown to kickoff

Greetings from CenturyLink Field on a gorgeous night for the Seahawks’ nationally televised preseason opener against the Titans.

And this more than “only” a preseason game, for several reasons.

For starters, there are the starting quarterbacks – a couple of guys named Matt. For the Seahawks, Matt Flynn gets his chance to take charge in the three-man competition to be the starter in the Sept. 9 regular-season opener against the Cardinals in Arizona. He got the starting reps all week, and if he plays as well tonight as he did in practice, well, he’ll be the leader in the club house at the very least. For the Titans, this is a return to Seattle for Matt Hasselbeck – the Seahawks’ QB during the most successful five-season run in franchise history, the franchise’s career and single-game record holder in most of the meaningful passing categories and the QB fans at voted to the 35th Anniversary team. Hasselbeck has his own QB competition to worry about, as he’s vying with Jake Locker, the former University of Washington QB and the Titans’ first-round draft choice last year.

But the intrigue in this one goes beyond the QBs.

Fans also will get their first game-situation looks at this year’s draft class – including Bruce Irvin, a blur of a pass rusher who was the Seahawks’ first-round pick; Bobby Wagner, the second-round pick who will start at middle linebacker; Russell Wilson, the third-round pick who will take over for Flynn in the second half; and Robert Turbin, the fourth-round pick who will get a lot of carries because Marshawn Lynch is not expected to play much – if at all.

This also will be the first look at the free-agent additions – most noticeably Deuce Lutui, who will start at right guard because John Moffitt likely will have surgery to remove particles from his left elbow and be sidelined two to three weeks; and Jason Jones, who was signed to play the three-technique tackle spot in the nickel line but also will be at that spot in the base defense because Alan Branch is not expected to play. Terrell Owens, who practiced for the first time Wednesday, will not play. Barrett Ruud, who was signed to compete with Wagner for the starting middle linebacker job, likely won’t play.

One question: Will Flynn see a better defense tonight than the one he has been facing in practice?

One more thought: This isn’t just a “homecoming” for Hasselbeck. The Titans also have Steve Hutchinson, the left guard on the Seahawks’ 35th Anniversary team; and Jordan Babineaux, who earned the nickname “Big Play Babs” while with the Seahawks and now is starting at strong safety for Tennessee. The Titans defensive coordinator is Jerry Gray, who was the Seahawks’ defensive backs coach on Jim Mora’s staff in 2009. Then there’s Michael Roos, the Titans’ Pro Bowl left tackle who played at Eastern Washington University and is from Vancouver, Wash.

Enjoy the game, with kickoff set for 7:05 p.m.. In addition to the NFL Network, KCPQ/13 also will televise the action.  Fans may also watch online by clicking here.

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