Doug Farrar, Seahawks.NET: With several injuries to the defensive line, most of the pressure has come from linebackers set up as rushing ends. New Seahawks linebacker Julian Peterson, the freakish former 49er, has been lining up there a bit. The Seahawks led the NFL in sacks last year with 50, but they’re still rounding into shape in that regard in 2006. As the season starts, you’ll see more stunts and line activity, which Is where the Seahawks’ defensive line really excels.
DS: I got a chance to watch the Seattle-Indy game and wasn't very impressed with the usually dominant Walter Jones. Does he play this week and is there a kink, finally, in his armor? That leads to the obvious - can he stay with two of our best rushers, Steve Foley and Shawne Merriman?
DF: If Foley and Merriman have elite edge speed, perhaps they can get around Jones. That’s really his only weakness, when super-fast ends like Dwight Freeney and Osi Umenyiora can slip to a side before he sets his feet. Once the feet are down and his hands are up? Ballgame. If they come straight at him, I wish them all the luck in the world. Jones doesn’t generally go full-bore in the preseason, but I’d expect him to be out there making a statement on Saturday.
DS: Peter Warrick was always a guy I thought would continue to move up the ladder and become a star. Obviously I was mistaken. How is he doing in camp this year and is there any chance of him cracking the top three?
DF: He’s doing okay – dropping more passes as a receiver than the team would like in practice, but he’s penciled in as the primary punt returner. The only way he’d crack the top three is due to injury. Darrell Jackson, Nate Burleson and Bobby Engram are 1,2, and 3 in that order. Jackson hasn’t been able to practice through camp with various knee and leg issues, but the team is hoping that this will be more of a precautionary issue as the preseason comes to a close. At this point, he projects as a fourth or fifth – a good backup. His injuries have really hampered his progress. While it’s common to assume that any wide receiver that doesn’t live up to expectations has some sort of attitude issues, that’s not true of Warrick. He’s just been very unfortunate from an injury perspective.
DS: Robert Pollard is another former Charger. Has he developed well enough to be considered for a roster spot since his practice squad eligibility is all used up?
DF: Probably not. Seattle’s starting defensive ends are Grant Wistrom and Bryce Fisher, and the backups are Joe Tafoya – who has followed team president Tim Ruskell from Tampa Bay to Atlanta to Seattle – and Kemp Rasmussen, an ex-Panther who has impressed with his athleticism. Factor in Darryl Tapp in that pass-rushing role, and there’s no room at the inn for Pollard or anyone else.
DS: What areas of the game do you expect the Hawks to be better at this week after not performing as well over the first two weeks of the preseason?
DF: The primary concern so far has been the secondary – less than stellar safety help, sloppy zone handoffs and late breaks on receivers have allowed preseason opponents to shine – Peyton Manning decimated the Seahawks on his first drive, and that secondary allowed Dallas’ Tony Romo to look like a low-rent Tom Brady in the first preseason game.
The other concern so far has been the offensive line. Quite a few new faces in there as the coaches evaluate talent, and that lack of continuity has affected assignments. More missed assignments have led to a less productive rushing attack, and six sacks from the Cowboys. I wouldn’t expect that to be a huge problem when the season starts – pass protection was much better last week against Indy - but that’s where they are now.