WEEK 3: at SEATTLE SEAHAWKS
Date: Monday, Sept. 24. Time: 7:30 p.m. TV: ESPN.
2011 record: 7-9. Points scored: 321 (23rd). Points against: 315 (7th).
Noteworthy: It will be a teacher-vs.-pupil matchup of sorts when Aaron Rodgers takes on Matt Flynn. That's assuming Flynn can beat out Tavaris Jackson. OK, you can assume that. Running back Marshawn Lynch provides balance. Seattle must correct its No. 31 ranking in penalties but is on track on defense (from 25th to seventh in points allowed). The series: The Packers, who are 6-0 in road openers under coach Mike McCarthy, are 2-2 all-time at Seattle.
TRAINING CAMP GOALS
1. Find a quarterback. Incumbent Tarvaris Jackson, free-agent signee Matt Flynn and third-round draft choice Russell Wilson are competing in a three-way battle for the starting quarterback job. Jackson will get the reps with the first unit to begin training camp, but don't be surprised if Flynn is ultimately the guy. Jackson finished 7-7 as a starter in his first season in Seattle. Coach Pete Carroll appreciated Jackson gutting out a torn pectoral injury he suffered in Week 5 against the New York Giants. Jackson earned respect in the locker room for his toughness, becoming one of the leaders on the team in a short amount of time.
However, Jackson struggled in late-game situations, failing to lead his team to just a field goal that would have won games against Atlanta and San Francisco and extended games against Washington and Arizona. Jackson finished with a 30.7 passer rating in the two-minute drill last year, with no touchdowns, six interceptions and nine sacks in those situations. In a much smaller sample size, Flynn posted a 103.5 passer rating in two starts with Green Bay. Although he's only 5-foot-11, Carroll believes Wilson could be the team's quarterback of the future, which is one of the reasons he added the Wisconsin product to the team's competition for the starting job. Wilson is a perfect fit for Seattle's offense because of his ability to move outside of the pocket, arm strength, ability to throw on the run and overall leadership skills.
2. Develop a pass rush: The Seahawks finished tied for 19th with just 33 sacks in 2011. They drafted defensive end Bruce Irvin and signed defensive tackle Jason Jones in free agency to rectify that situation. Along with those two, Seattle drafted defensive tackle Jaye Howard in the fourth round and Greg Scruggs in the seventh to create more options on passing downs.
PLAYER TO WATCH
Sidney Rice says he's finally healthy, coming off two offseason shoulder surgeries. Seattle's high-dollar free-agent signee in 2011 is expected to lead the passing game. The 25-year-old said he suffered a labrum tear in his right shoulder during training camp in 2011 that forced him to miss the first two games of the year. Although not fully healthy, Rice came back and gutted it out through nine games. But after suffering two concussions in the span of three games, Carroll decided to shut his star receiver down, placing Rice on the season-ending injured reserve in December. The South Carolina product put on 11 pounds of muscle this offseason, upping his weight from 198 to 209 pounds. Rice said he'd like to arrive at training camp at 215 pounds in order to better handle the pounding of a 16-game season.
ON THE HOT SEAT
Mike Williams struggled to stay healthy in 2011, finishing with just 18 receptions after leading the Seahawks in catches in 2010 with 65. Williams did not fully participate in Seattle's offseason workout because he's still rehabbing from a broken ankle that cut short his 2011 campaign. Williams was released this week, with Carroll going with young receivers like Kris Durham and Ricardo Lockette.
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