SEATTLE — Will Seahawks fans finally get a chance to watch Russell Wilson, Chris Carson, Tyler Lockett, K.J. Wright and many other starting players who sat out the preseason opener a week ago Thursday?
Probably for at least a little while Sunday at Minnesota, though coach Pete Carroll decided to play it vague as can be during his media availability Friday, declining to say exactly what the team’s plan is.
Carroll, though, had earlier said to expect many of those who sat out Seattle’s preseason-opening victory against Denver to get on the field, including Wilson, who for the first time in his career did not play in a preseason opener.
But as is almost always the case in the preseason, if all goes as planned, the starters won’t necessarily be the story.
Instead, the most intrigue is in seeing how the battles continue to unfold for some of the positions that remain open, as well as for players still simply trying to sew up their spots on the roster.
Here are five questions as the 5 p.m. kickoff looms.
Will DK Metcalf make a bigger impact this time?
Vikings coach Mike Zimmer also is playing it coy on how long his starters might be on the field, other than to basically confirm they will start the game.
If the defensive starters play much at all, then it will be another good test for Metcalf, and a chance to put up a few more numbers than last week, when he was held to one catch for 8 yards but also saw two passes for potentially long gains go just out of his reach and also saw another reception called back due to a penalty (all thrown by Geno Smith, meaning Sunday could/should be his first chance to get game reps with Wilson).
Metcalf has continued to impress in practice, rotating in with the starters at times, and preseason results are always risky to read much into.
But given the hype and attention directed Metcalf’s way, the Seahawks might like it if he reeled in a few passes against a good defense to give some public validation of what they have seen so far mostly in private.
Will any of the nickel cornerbacks take a step forward?
The Seahawks basically have a four-man open battle for the slot-cornerback spot among Akeem King, Kalan Reed, Jamar Taylor and Ugo Amadi. Amadi also is playing some safety, and his spot on the roster seems just about assured given his draft status, versatility and potential special-teams value.
And King has been considered the favorite for the spot since the spring, when he signed a contract that included a $400,000 bonus.
But nothing is guaranteed.
Seattle coaches have painted the situation as a good one to have with a lot of viable contenders. But Carroll also mentioned Friday the difficulty of getting everyone enough snaps to both get properly prepared and be fairly evaluated. And that might mean the Seahawks would like to begin narrowing things down a little bit.
Reed began the week anointed as the starter, but Taylor also got his turns with the No. 1 defense. Carroll praised Taylor’s competitiveness but also noted he’d drawn a few penalties. Coaches continue to say performance in games will decide a lot of the battles, and the nickels should get a good test from Kirk Cousins and backups that include former Oregon State standout Sean Mannion, and former Washington Huskies star Jake Browning, who is listed fourth on Minnesota’s depth chart at quarterback (Kyle Sloter is third, between Mannion and Browning).
Will any of the third-down backs do anything?
Injuries at running back last week compelled the Seahawks to give 13 carries to Xavier Turner, who had signed the day before the Denver game.
Three of those missing last week are contenders for the third-down/two-minute back role — veterans C.J. Prosise and J.D. McKissic and rookie Travis Homer.
Prosise and Homer were back in pads Friday, so the assumption is they’ll be ready to play. McKissic was not, but he did some conditioning work earlier in the week and Carroll said there was a chance he could return.
While Seattle wants to use Carson and Rashaad Penny more in receiving roles this season, they are almost certain to keep a third-down back, as well. For the mercurial Prosise, a third-round choice in 2016 who continues to struggle with injuries, time is running out.
Can Bryan Mone continue his darkhorse run at a roster spot?
Mone, an undrafted rookie free-agent defensive tackle from Michigan, played well against Denver with three tackles, one for a loss, further helping his case to be the beneficiary of Jarran Reed’s six-game suspension.
While Reed is out, the Seahawks will have to have someone else play some snaps at tackle.
Carroll said Friday that veteran Al Woods continues to be the leader to start in place of Reed alongside Poona Ford.
But Seattle is likely to keep two other tackles on the 53-man roster — and for the first six games, Reed won’t be one of them — among a group that includes veteran free-agent signees Earl Mitchell and Jamie Meder, veteran Nazair Jones and undrafted free agents Mone and Jay-Tee Tiuli.
And when asked about the position Friday, Carroll mentioned only Mone along with Woods.
“Bryan Mone has also shown that he can contribute there, too,’’ Carroll said. “We need some more games from him to see what happens, but at 350 (pounds) or whatever he is, he’s a monster in there. The thing I like about him, he played for a really good college team and played great run defense, he was right in the middle of all that. He’s shown why he was a factor there. We’re excited to see if he can contribute.”
Which young player will take his star turn this time?
The breakout stars of the first game were quarterback Paxton Lynch and undrafted rookie receiver Jazz Ferguson, who connected four times for 54 yards and a touchdown in the second half as the Seahawks rallied from an early 6-0 deficit to win 22-14.
Lynch figures to play extensively with Smith having missed most of the week after having surgery to remove a cyst in his knee.
Same with Ferguson, who was comparatively quieter in practice this week but has starred in both the mock game and preseason game.
Coaches will look to see if each can build on the momentum of last week.
But maybe it’ll be someone else’s turn to shine.
A few candidates?
Receiver Gary Jennings, who on Monday turned in what coaches said was one of the best practices they had seen from any receiver all year; Homer, who if he’s healthy would figure to get a lot of work; Cody Barton, who played 23 snaps in the opener after returning from a groin injury, but could see more action this time around after having run with the starters at middle linebacker all week with Bobby Wagner still out; and Ben Burr-Kirven, who was healthy and active in practice all week.