Countdown to kickoff

Greetings from CenturyLink Field, where the Seahawks and Raiders will close out their preseasons tonight under an almost-full moon, and hopefully it will help shed some light on several situations before the Seahawks must trim their 75-man roster to 53 players on Friday.

Rookie Russell Wilson will make his first home start, and first start since being named the starting quarterback on Sunday by coach Pete Carroll. Wilson flat-out won the three-man competition that began in May by being progressively more productive in each of the first three preseason games – including last week’s 44-14 victory over the Chiefs when he led six consecutive scoring drives in his first NFL start. But Matt Flynn, now the backup, is scheduled to see a lot of time tonight after missing last week’s game in Kansas City because of a sore right elbow. He needs to forge ahead in the same role he filled the past four seasons in Green Bay, where he was the backup to Aaron Rodgers, and leave the recent past behind him. There also should be ample time in the second half to get some needed action for second-year QB Josh Portis, who retains the No. 3 spot after incumbent starter Tarvaris Jackson was traded to the Bills this week.

The bigger question, however, involves the players they’ll be throwing to: Which six wide receivers from the 11 on the current roster will still around after Friday’s cuts? Sidney Rice, one of last year’s big free-agent signees, is scheduled to see his next action of the preseason after registering one catch for eight yards a week ago at Kansas City in what was his first game since recovering from having surgery on both shoulders during the off season. Rice is expected to be the starting flanker. Doug Baldwin, last year’s leading receiver as a rookie free agent, remains the best option as the slot receiver. But he won’t play tonight because of a sore hamstring. Carroll referred to Golden Tate as “a starter” on Friday, and the open spot is at split end – where Mike Williams, who as released last month, played the past two seasons.

That’s three. The competition for the other three spots rages on, in part because the other wide-outs have yet to reach out and grab a roster spot. There’s veteran Braylon Edwards, who has the size Carroll wants at split end and also has made plays in practice as well as the games. There are incumbent backups Deon Butler and Ben Obomanu. There are second-year receivers Ricardo Lockette, who’s fast; and Kris Durham, who’s big. There are rookie free agents Jermaine Kearse and Lavasier Tuinei. Then there’s Charly Martin, who’s with his fourth team since entering the league in 2009, but who also continues to do all the right things as a receiver, blocker and on special teams.

The Seahawks also are overloaded in the secondary (13 players for nine or 10 spots), at linebacker (10 players for six or seven spots) and on the offensive line (13 players for nine or 10 spots).

Tonight is the last chance for many of these players to show they deserve another chance – on the eight-man practice squad that will be compiled on Saturday, if not the 53-man roster.

For that reason, Carroll and his assistant coaches will take long looks at many of the young players tonight. And so will you.

Enjoy the game, which will be televised on KCPQ/13 and carried on 710 ESPN and 97.3 FM. Kickoff is set for 7:05 p.m.


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