1. After sitting out the first two preseason games, it's expected that Richard Sherman will play Saturday vs. the Chargers. How has Sherman looked in practice? Do you think we can expect a good matchup between him and WR Keenan Allen, who finished with five catches for 55-yards against him in the 2014 regular season?
According to Pete Carroll, Sherman could have played a week ago against the Kansas City Chiefs had it been a regular season game but the team wants to ease him back rather than rush him after he sustained a hip flexor injury a few weeks ago. During practice, he's look good, providing the same pop at the line of scrimmage in man coverage to receivers and using his length, body control and awareness to pluck interceptions when quarterbacks attempt to throw in his direction.
I anticipate another competitive outing should Sherman and Allen face off. While Allen doesn't have blazing speed, he isn't afraid of contact and therefore will battle with Sherman. Philip Rivers' accuracy is always a challenge and Sherman will have two former undrafted free agents in Steven Terrell and Dion Bailey likely starting behind him at safety not All-Pros Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor so it should be an intriguing matchup to follow in this game.
2. Seattle traded both a first-round draft pick and Pro Bowl center Max Unger to the New Orleans Saints in exchange for Jimmy Graham. Has Graham been worth it? Will he be the one to resurrect the passing game for the Seahawks?
Thus far, the trade for Graham has been everything Seattle could have hoped for. Graham won't see the same number of passes in Seattle that helped him develop into an All-Pro in New Orleans but he's so big and athletic that the Seahawks' defense has struggled to stop him, especially in the red zone, where he and Russell Wilson have already shown some rapport.
Part of Seattle's "pedestrian" passing game is by design. Pete Carroll's philosophy has always been to control the clock and the ball and with a superstar in Marshawn Lynch at running back, Seattle feels it can afford to grind away the game. Graham should make Seattle's passing game much more difficult to stop but the Seahawks aren't about to dramatically change their offensive identity.
Finally, the Seahawks feel good about the development of Drew Nowak at center as the replacement for Unger. The former undrafted free agent defensive tackle out of Western Michigan has thus far beaten out veterans Lemuel Jeanpierre and Patrick Lewis for the starting center role. The Seahawks were 7-0 a year ago with Jeanpierre or Lewis starting while Unger was injured. Frank Clark was a much maligned draft pick (and for good reason) but his play thus far has been impressive and more in line with what one might expect of a first round pick rather than a late second.
3. Now that Russell Wilson has a hefty contract under his belt, should we expect to see anything more from him as far as the evolution of his game goes?
The Seahawks certainly think so. Wilson deserved the massive raise and he got it, receiving the biggest deal in franchise history despite the fact that the last meaningful pass he threw for the Seahawks before signing it technically cost them the Super Bowl. Though Wilson will never be able to erase that play (Recovery Water or not), he otherwise has shown a remarkable ability to protect the football, rarely throwing the ball into coverage or fumbling it despite his frequent runs. Seattle's run-oriented offense limits Wilson's opportunities to throw but I'm confident that the Seahawks passing attack could be much more productive if the team wanted that to be the case. While there are significant concerns about pass protection, Seattle's receivers are better than most think and Wilson has impressive arm strength and accuracy. Many of his flashiest highlight reel plays come off of improvisation -- and there is no question this is where he's at his best -- but Wilson is also quite effective from inside the pocket, when called on to do it.
A big thanks to Rob for taking the time to answer a few questions! Wanna know where I think the Chargers stand? See my answers to Rob's questions here.