Beyond injuries, never is it possible to manufacture a pivotal moment in an NFL exhibition season. But it is possible to make a big deal out of no longer soiling the sheets.
In arrears a combined 50-10 after two defeats played without use of most starters, the Seahawks seek to tidy up Saturday in the fake-game finale at the Loo against the Los Angeles Chargers.
“They’re good, hard, crappy lessons that you have to deal with and then try to learn from,” coach Pete Carroll said Tuesday of the error festivals against the Raiders and Chargers. “We need to get out of our own way, and that needs to show up this week if we’re going to make good progress on the game field.”
Amid a flurry of roster developments that included a minor trade to acquire depth at cornerback and the re-hire of the inevitable Luke Willson, there was an air around the VMAC not of urgency, but of impatience.
“We’re talking about finishing now — just finish the preseason,” Carroll said. “We want to get in that mode. We want to start to train ourselves about the kind of focus that it takes to finish well.
“it’s not about what happened before. It’s about what are you going to do now. That’s what this week is about.”
After practice, Carroll said that the free agent return of Willson, 31, for perhaps some part of a seventh Seattle season, was as much about intangibles as injuries at the tight end position.
“We’re trying to live on the high end of this thing,” he said. “Keep the spirit up, keep the energy high. Expectations are really high to do that. It takes leadership and participation.
“Certain people just have more juice than others. Luke has always been a great part of that for us. He’s just one of my favorites that we’ve had in the program over the years.”
Willson didn’t meet with the media, but his first practice revealed blonde highlights on his hair, normally dark as it is long.
“We talked about the tips,” Carroll said, trying not to smile. “(Nick) Bellore was thinking he might go that way too. I don’t know, it might be a trend.”
The Willson effect is underway.
It probably won’t have as much influence as the returns to practice Tuesday of a platoon of players previously out with minor hurts: QB Geno Smith, CB D.J. Reed, C Ethan Pocic, TE Tyler Mabry, RT Cedric Ogbuehi, CB Marquise Blair and WR Penny Hart.
Not returning for the season will be LB Ben Burr-Kirven and WR John Ursua, who each tore ACLs Saturday that require surgery.
The loss of Burr-Kirven prompted much social media speculation that the vacancy would create an opening for K.J. Wright, the popular longtime Seahawk who remains a free agent. But Wright isn’t really a fit for that role.
Apparently, Bellore is.
The Pro Bowl special teams star jumped in Saturday against Denver and made five tackles, prompting a re-think by Carroll.
“The thing that happened this weekend was the emergence of Nick Bellore,” he said. “Nick really helped us. It was a real shot in the arm for us when Ben went out, so that will help us right now.”
The position needing an outside patch was at cornerback, where the Seahawks traded a conditional seventh-round choice in the 2023 draft Tuesday to Houston for second-year vet John Reid, a 5-9, 187-pounder from Penn State who was about to be waived. Rookie Tre Brown’s sore knee is the proximate cause of the deal.
“The fact that Tre is down right now is why John Reid is coming in,’’ Carroll said. “We want to make sure that we have depth and have the kind of competitive speed that we need out there.
“(Reid is) steady, has played nickel, shows versatility, plays inside and outside, shows real good speed. He’s been an active player. “
Among all the undecided positions, cornerback remains the biggest mystery. When holdover D.J. Reed is healthy, he’s nearly a lock for one spot. Tre Flowers and newcomer Ahkello Witherspoon are primary contenders for the other side.
As with every other NFL team, the Seahawks have unresolved personnel matters. But few have held out so many from harm’s way. That will change some Saturday.
“I’d like to see us play a lot cleaner at the line of scrimmage and with the football,” Carroll said. “Last week was a disastrous day with the football, and we had five penalties at the line of scrimmage. We need to get out of our own way. That needs to show up this week if we’re going to make good progress on the game field.
“From the first group, when they’re in practice and the work they’ve done, I don’t see those same issues. But this week, it popped up and it’s a good illustration. I hope that’s not indicative of what we’re going to be like as a team when the whole crew is out there. “
Saturday represents the remaining chance to remove some bubble wrap and lift the curtain a bit. Going into the regular season 0-3 is a great way to invite into camp a mountain to replace a mole hill.