After waiting through a long, dark offseason, football returned to CenturyLink Field on Thursday night with the hometown Seattle Seahawks falling to the Indianapolis Colts by the score of 19-17.
Though the Seahawks lost a preseason game for the first time in two years, the defeat doesn't matter in the win/loss column and plenty of Seahawks performed well, especially the team's 2018 draft class headlined by linebacker Shaquem Griffin and defensive end Rasheem Green.
Which Seahawks boosted their stock in tonight's game and which players hurt their chances at making the Seahawks final roster?
With K.J. Wright firmly entrenched as the starting weakside linebacker, Griffin's chances of earning a starting role on Seattle's defense remain slim to none barring injury. But he built off a strong training camp by producing nine combined tackles and a tackle for a loss in his Seahawk debut, showcasing his elite speed and instincts for the position. He didn't play a perfect game, as Colts backup quarterback Phillip Walker juked him out on a read-option run in the second half and he surrendered a couple receptions in coverage. Still, he flew to the football as expected, stuffed several run plays, and created pressure as a blitzing linebacker on a couple of occasions, backing up the hype he has generated thus far.
Rasheem Green/Jacob Martin
The Seahawks lack of experienced pass rushers has been a red flag throughout the offseason, especially with an injury keeping defensive end Dion Jordan out of action indefinitely. But if Green and Martin can jump into the lineup and flash as they did against the Colts, the duo's ascendance will go a long ways towards to fixing this potential problem.
The 21-year old Green dominated throughout the evening, displaying much improved hand usage from his college film to disengage from blocks and pursue the opposing quarterback. He finished the night with seven combined tackles and 1.5 sacks, including a sack on Colts quarterback Andrew Luck. As for Martin, the undersized ex-Temple standout looks like he's being shot out of cannon when he accelerates out of his stance and quickly turns the corner against slower footed tackles. Though he only finished with 0.5 sacks, he was consistently disrupting the pocket.
Coach Pete Carroll revealed earlier this week that Vannett had been battling back problems during his first two NFL seasons. With the issue finally remedied this offseason, the former third-round pick has taken advantage of Ed Dickson's absence and the departures of Jimmy Graham and Luke Willson in free agency to emerge as the front-runner to start at tight end. In Seattle's lone drive for the starting offense, Russell Wilson targeted him three times, completing two passes for 20 yards and connecting with him for a five-yard touchdown strike. He also had a beautiful block on Rashaad Penny's six-yard run on the opening scoring drive.
Austin Davis/Alex McGough
Advertised as one of the "must see" competitions for the Seahawks heading into the new season, neither Davis nor McGough did anything to create distance in the race to backup Wilson. Davis completed four out of five passes, but his one incompletion proved to be a costly one as he threw an ill-advised pass in the end zone trying to hook up with Keenan Reynolds. Telegraphing the pass with Reynolds stopping his route, cornerback Nate Hairston picked off the pass, abruptly ending a promising drive.
As for McGough, he completed 10 out of 13 pass attempts while playing most of the second half. However, under constant duress behind reserve offensive linemen, he was sacked multiple times and averaged an abysmal 3.7 yards per pass attempt. He put his athleticism on display a few times evading pass rushers and had a nice run on a read-option keeper, but overall, his performance left plenty to be desired.
Viewed by many as a sleeper to steal a roster spot heading into camp, Phillips hasn't been able to earn many snaps at practice up to this point, and his performance against the Colts showed why. Subbing in at left guard during the second half, Phillips got owned by defensive tackle Hassan Ridgeway on multiple plays, including one where he didn't appear to get a finger on Ridgeway before he smashed McGough in the backfield. After signing J.R. Sweezy last week, the versatile Phillips will need to make major improvements in the next game to have any chance of positioning himself to have a future with the team.
Unlike the other two players on this list, Prosise damaged his chances at sticking around for a third season with the Seahawks by simply not being available. The oft-injured running back has had seven different injuries since being drafted by Seattle in 2016 and has only played in 11 of 32 possible regular season games the last two years. After staying healthy the first two weeks of training camp, it appeared he'd finally caught a bit of luck and would get to work his way into the team's backfield rotation. But now dealing with yet another injury and unable to help himself by producing in a game situation, his inability to stay out of the training room will be his undoing.