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October 27, 2014 at 5:33 AM

Seattle Seahawks second thoughts

Here are five more thoughts on Seattle’s 13-9 win over Carolina Sunday, in no particular order:

1. Somewhat lost in the shuffle was that Richard Sherman again broke from custom and, for the most part, shadowed Kelvin Benjamin all over the field. It made sense, given that Benjamin was by far Carolina’s most dangerous receiver. Benjamin  caught four passes for 94 yards, including a 51-yarder, and earned the respect of Sherman, who said: “He’s a really good receiver. He’s huge and he has a huge catching radius. You have to be aware of all that. He has speed. He made some fantastic plays today. We were there in coverage and we were right on top of him. He made plays. I think he’s going to grow and continue to evolve and do well in this league.” In other words, Benjamin belongs in this league and is far from mediocre. From a Seattle perspective, it will be interesting to see how often the Seahawks decide to move Sherman onto a team’s No. 1 receiver. The guess here is that it will still be rare — I’d imagine one reason they did it today was to allow Tharold Simon, making his second career start, a softer landing. But moving Sherman around also doesn’t figure to be necessary for a while, either, given the next few opponents.

2. Paul Richardson did a nice job returning kickoffs Sunday, and it will be interesting to see how that spot develops going forward. Bryan Walters did it last week with Percy Harvin gone. But he’s coming off a concussion and the team might want to let him concentrate on punt returns. Certainly, Richardson looks like a good option there. Richardson never returned a kickoff at Colorado, so those had to be his first returns since at least his senior year of high school in 2009.

3. Another member of the draft class of 2014 — linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis — also had his best day as a Seahawk, playing substantially in the second half after an injury to Malcolm Smith. Pierre-Louis had three tackles, one for a loss, and also simply appeared to be active. You saw a lot of the future on Sunday with Richardson, Pierre-Louis and Kevin Norwood all playing key roles. As for Pierre-Louis, his progression is vital for a linebacking corps that has a lot of questions heading into the future (Smith, for instance, is an unrestricted free agent after this season, and how Pierre-Louis evolves this year could color the decision they make with Smith).

4. Bruce Irvin made the kind of plays at the end that he needs to make — and that the Seahawks need him to make. You heard Pete Carroll talk after the game about how he liked how Seattle ended it on “a surge.” I think he was referring in part to the two sacks by Irvin on the last series. Irvin’s had a halting beginning to the season with some injuries and playing both rush end and strongside linebacker. At first glance, it seemed like he played a bit more on the end — and was more effective at it — than he has been most of the season. One of themes of the week was Seattle needing to get more of a pass rush. It seemed better against the Panthers, with Seattle credited with five quarterback hurries and three sacks. Granted, Carolina had a banged-up line that has been struggling anyway. But the way the Seahawks had been feeling about the pass rush the last few weeks, it was a good step.

5. We’ve seen Marshawn Lynch split out pretty regularly this year. But it seemed like we saw him split out wide more than ever Sunday. He ended up having four targets with just one catch for two yards. One the of the misfires was the interception on a pass that went off his hands. Carroll said later that Russell Wilson “really hustled the ball into Marshawn, probably too hard to catch it for him.”

 

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