BY Art Thiel 12:22AM 08/15/2015

Thiel: Clark, Lockett shine; Carroll, not so much

The Seahawks opened the exhibition season with 22-20 loss to the Denver Broncos, and they also lost three players to injury. But Tyler Lockett . . . oh my. Even Carroll momentarily went nuts.

QB Russell Wilson broke free for a 12-yard gain in the first quarter Friday night. / Drew Sellers, Sportspress Northwest

When the highlight is a hit delivered by a 63-year-old head coach, doesn’t matter that it’s exhibition season — a legend was born Friday night at the Clink. Pete (“Always Compete”) Carroll was penalized 15 yards, possibly for over-age tackling of an official, but it was worth it.

“I was really excited about Tyler Lockett’s 83-yard return,” Carroll said, deadpanning. “I didn’t see the last 20 yards.”

The game highlight was rookie Lockett’s second-quarter kickoff return that measured 103 yards, but Carroll was on the ground for its conclusion after colliding with field judge Eugene Hall along the sideline, drawing a flag for sideline interference. He was asked whether Hall, who stumbled but kept running, said anything.

“He didn’t apologize,” Carroll said, grinning.

However, the rest of the evening was less amusing for the 68,677 Seahawks fans, having little to do with the score, a 22-20 loss to the Denver Broncos that Carroll called “sloppy,” and more to do with some injuries.

Three Seahawks left the game, including backup QB Tarvaris Jackson, meaning that obscure third-stringer Rush James Archer, a 28-year-old rookie from the football hotbed of William & Mary, is a pulled hamstring away from the requirement to lead the Seahawks to their third consecutive Super Bowl appearance.

In a game uglier than a courtroom artist’s vision of Tom Brady, Jackson sprained an ankle after a hit while passing. Carroll indicated it didn’t seem too serious, but suggested they might have to look for another veteran backup.

Also out were Mohammed Seisay (strained groin), newly acquired to fill a thin position at cornerback, and WR Chris Matthews (shoulder strain), who starred in the Super Bowl.

With Russell Wilson playing just the first two series, one ending with a strip-sack fumble behind a shaky offensive line, the Seahawks managed 181 yards of total offense, thanks partly to seven sacks for 38 yards in losses.

The first real action of Seahawks training camp produced some personnel observations that can be summed up in two sentences:

If I were RB Christine Michael, TE Anthony McCoy and RT Justin Britt, I’d be a little worried about my place in the Seahawks world. If I were Lockett, fellow rookie Frank Clark and backup RB Thomas Rawls, I’d be buying the house a round.

(And if I were Carroll, I’d be wondering if I can play backup QB as well as special teams.)

So let’s get to it, and answer some questions you transmitted from the BookfaceTwinker app by those of you who somehow pulled yourselves away from the Mariners’ 15-1 loss to the Red Sox.

Q. Lockett was supposed to be good, but a return TD in his first game is ridiculous. Is that why Carroll was going nuts?

Exactly. Carroll was so disappointed in last season’s return game that Lockett’s acquisition was a draft priority. “He played exactly as we hoped,” Carroll said. “I was jumping up and down.”

Particularly noteworthy was how he out-ran the Broncos’ final defender, who had the angle but not the speed.

“Lock lit it up,” Carroll said. “We all know that’s exactly what we were hoping to see. Lots of times guys make that break and they started to turn the corner, and they get run down at the 30-yard line. He finished it, and that’s 4.3 (seconds in the 40). It showed up.”

Lockett had 204 yards on four kickoffs and one 18-yard punt in which he reversed field to make something out of nothing.

“Just don’t get caught,” said a beaming Lockett about his race. “I run not to get caught — a lot of people will probably talk about you if you were to get caught.”

Q: Since DE Michael Bennett was held out, it seemed like Clark was all over the place. Was he that good in training camp?

He’s shown the speed, but without contact, he was mostly mystery. He had three tackles, six assists and a QB hurry playing inside as well as outside.

“Frank was really active and running all around, Carroll said. “You couldn’t miss Frank. He has looked like he can be a factor and help us.”

Clark, after all the controversy he had with his then-girlfriend that resulted in his dismissal from the University or Michigan team, was elated.

“Even though I’ve already played in my first NFL game it’s still unreal,” he said. “You go your whole life dreaming to get to a place, and it unveils right in front of your face, it’s unreal. I’m thankful for the whole stuff here in Seattle.”

Q: What was the deal with Britt? He’s supposed be one of the few guys the O-line can count on.

He was up against DE Von Miller, one of the best pass rushers in the game, but Britt on the first series just didn’t move his feet fast enough to keep Wilson from getting clobbered and fumbling. But he wasn’t the only one misfiring against a Denver defense that was mostly vanilla.

“It shouldn’t have been that difficult for us,” Carroll said. “Interior-wise, we weren’t very good.”

Second and third units saw a lot of time. The Seahawks had 29 yards of offense in the first have and 108 after three periods. Lem Jeanpierre started at center and Alvin Bailey at left guard, but pressure on all the QBs was heavy.

The Seahawks’ biggest personnel question mark entering camp came no closer to resolution.

Q: Has Michael lost his backup RB job?

Not yet, but it’s getting close. Ball security has been his bugaboo, and sure enough, he dropped a ball in the backfield after a light tap. He had 15 yards in seven carries, 12 on one play. Rawls, running in the fourth quarter against Broncos scrubs, had 31 yards in nine carries, plus a 19-yard touchdown pass from Archer, the Seahawks’ only scrimmage TD.

Drops plagued McCoy as well. He had two misses while wide open, and also had a holding penalty. Tough night for a player many are pulling for.

Q: TE Jimmy Graham caught his first pass for 12 yards. How did he get so open?

It was a Seahawks staple: Fake to the running back a sweep right, roll the QB left on a naked bootleg and find the tight end uncovered.

He was more thrilled with his first Seahawks home ground as a good guy.

“It was awesome. Truly amazing coming out of the tunnel for the first time,” he said. “Feels great.”



  • jafabian

    Lockett made the Pro Bowl last night. But he’ll decline the invite because he’ll be playing in the Super Bowl.

    • art thiel

      Did you get hurt jumping that hard on the bandwagon?

  • Warchild_70

    There are some Bronco’s that still have #55 in their dreams. Jessie Williams? Com’on man my wife is a RN of 22 yrs and you just made her get nuts watching you playing after 2 months recovery?? Archer was starting to click looking like a true pocket passer. Lastly McCoy ya better sell the barn and the Buick if you play like this next game your talented enough but those stone hands better be like velvet, just saying. T Jack get well soon old son. GO HAWKS!!

  • ll9956

    Good piece, Art. Your metaphors had me cackling.

    The Hawks’ pass protection on offense and run defense could use a massive transfusion of improvement. Admittedly the A-team didn’t participate much.

    • art thiel

      The plan was to see what they had with second and third units. Wouldn’t draw too many conclusions with so many in first NFL games, including practice-squad guys from a year ago.

  • John M

    I think we all saw the same as you, Art. Michael and McCoy are frustrating to watch, all the necessary god-given talent, but somehow it doesn’t work. The O-line is still a mess. They have to improve next week . . .

    • art thiel

      Seahawks are operating as a franchise at a very high level. Margins for performance error are small.

      • John M

        Well, Art, some of us have waited a considerable time to see them operate at this level. We’d like it to continue . . .