Rookies, as they tend to do, played huge chunks of Thursday’s preseason game against the Chargers, so here are three guys who looked solid in their first live NFL action. (Side note: I’m going to exclude Christine Michael from this group because I think it was pretty obvious that he had a really nice performance).
Jared Smith, center
I have no idea how Smith will grade out when Seattle’s coaching staff watches the film. And it’s nearly impossible to truly see what’s going on inside when you’re watching the game live. But here’s what I do know: Smith didn’t have any major screw ups so obvious even the naked eye could see them while working with the second-team offense. That might seem like a low bar until you consider that he’s been playing center for only a few months. And he’s only been playing on the offensive side of the ball for that long, too. Smith played along the defensive line in college, but the Seahawks worked him out before the draft as an offensive lineman, then took him in the seventh round. The odds of Smith sticking around on this team are long – he was only working with the second-team because starting center Max Unger sat out with an injury – but it’s impressive that he was able to hold his own (or at least appeared to do so) in a preseason game at center, the toughest and most demanding position mentally along the offensive line.
Spencer Ware, running back
Ware is one of the guys Pete Carroll said long ago that he wanted to see in pads because so much of what he does is about being physical. In a crowded backfield competition – Carroll called it the deepest the Seahawks have had in his tenure – Ware stood out for three things. First, on two consecutive plays, he picked up a blitzing defender and allowed his quarterback to make a throw. Doesn’t sound like much but for a rookie running back that’s important. Second, he made a nice tackle on special teams when covering a kickoff. Again, hard to see how he did the rest of time on special teams, but at least on one play he went flying down the field and made a tackle. That’s important for a guy trying to make the roster, and Ware has said before that he wanted to take pride in his special teams play. Third, Ware looked solid when he carried the ball. There was a lot of talk when the Seahawks drafted him in the (sixth) round this year about the possibility of moving him to fullback. He played tailback against the Chargers and finished with 32 yards on seven carries and one touchdown.
Benson Mayowa, defensive end
Here’s how far Mayowa has come in a short amount of time: At the team’s rookie mini camp in May, Carroll was asked for any players that had stood out. His answer: “The kid from Idaho.” That would be Mayowa, who was an undrafted rookie at the camp and just another name on the roster. But the Seahawks were impressed enough to sign Mayowa shortly after the camp ended, and he’s generated positive reviews since then. He’s undersized for a defensive end at 250 pounds, but the Seahawks think he brings a unique speed off the edge. He showed that against the Chargers, racking up 1.5 sacks and two tackles for a loss. It’s a crowded defensive line, and that’s worth considering when looking at guys the Seahawks might keep on their roster, but Mayowa has gone from being “the kid from Idaho” to a guy who Carroll singled out after Thursday night’s game for the way he played.