Hawks learn from exhibition game

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SEATTLE — August is no time for answers. At least not in the NFL.

It does provide teams with information, though. Seattle’s exhibition opener, a 27-17 victory Saturday against Tennessee, was an education on some critical issues facing this Seahawks team as well as highlighting some areas that remain very much uncertain.

Three things we learned

1) Matt Flynn is efficient as advertised.

Think he was underwhelming in his Seahawks debut with all those short-yardage passes? Well, remember he opened the game against Tennessee’s starters without Sidney Rice, Kellen Winslow, Terrell Owens or Marshawn Lynch, yet all he did was convert two third downs and complete all six of his passes during a nine-minute drive on his first possession. No, he didn’t throw downfield, but he showed on that first drive he can keep an offense moving. He wasn’t as sensational as Russell Wilson, but he also was going against stiffer competition.

2) Coach Pete Carroll might have a full-blown crush on rookie Russell Wilson.

We already sort of knew this. Back in May, Carroll said Wilson would be competing for the starting spot, and for the past couple of weeks, prominent NFL reporters such as Peter King of Sports Illustrated and Michael Silver of Yahoo! Sports have been struck by Carroll’s excitement for Wilson and the possibility that a rookie might in fact win the job. And now, after Wilson led the team in rushing and threw a 39-yard touchdown pass against the Titans, “I am interested to see what he’s going to do next time,” Carroll said. “It was really fun watching him.”

3) Things slowed down for defensive end Bruce Irvin Saturday night.

Usually, that’s a good thing when you’re talking about rookies, adjusting to the speed of the NFL. For Seattle’s first-round draft choice out of West Virginia, though, he was slow to make an impact. He wasn’t credited with a tackle, let alone a sack, despite playing a significant amount. Now, the Titans do have one of the game’s best left tackles in Michael Roos, and this is an exhibition game so Seattle is showing discretion and not revealing all the ways it plans to use Irvin. Still, for all the speed Irvin showed during training camp, you would have expected him to show up on the stat sheet a little quicker.

Three things we’re still trying to figure out

1) Will Terrell Owens and Braylon Edwards both make this roster?

It’s possible as they’re playing different positions with Owens at flanker and Edwards at split end. Edwards caught two passes Saturday, including a 39-yard touchdown, after a strong week of practice. The Seahawks brought Owens in because they think he can contribute. The Seahawks were looking for a big, physical wide receiver to fill the role Mike Williams was so effective at two years ago. If the Seahawks end up deciding both these veterans are essential, it will impact the special-teams personnel as neither Owens nor Edwards figure in that aspect of the game. Nor does Rice, and are you really going to ask Golden Tate — who very well might start at split end — to play on coverage units? Probably not. So if Seattle does keep both — and Edwards looked very much like someone you don’t want to let go — could the Seahawks perform some roster calisthenics and stretch to add one by, oh, I don’t know, carrying only two quarterbacks into the regular season?

2) How the heck has rookie offensive lineman J.R. Sweezy progressed this fast?

Seriously, it’s incredible the way he’s moving up the depth chart at guard considering he’s not only a rookie from North Carolina State, but he’s a rookie who hasn’t played on the offensive line since before high school. Yet there he was, stepping in for Deuce Lutui at right guard to play alongside Seattle’s first-unit line in the first quarter Saturday and acquitting himself rather well. Then he went and played left guard in the second half. He was a defensive tackle in college whom Seattle drafted in the seventh round as a project. Four months later, he looks like someone who is projecting to play sooner rather than later.

3) Who starts at quarterback on Saturday in Denver?

Carroll kept mum on this subject, from the question of who would start to whether Tarvaris Jackson or Josh Portis would play at all after Flynn and Wilson split all the time in opener. When Carroll named Flynn the starter for the exhibition opener, he said he wanted to see how the team would look with him in that role for an entire week. If Wilson remains a viable candidate to be the regular-season starter, it would make sense to give him that same opportunity this week heading into the game Saturday against Denver.

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