So what did we learn from the Seahawks’ first preseason game?
But that’s the deal in the NFL, where 90 players bang away at each other through four exhibitions, but only 53 make the regular-season roster.
In the battle for Seattle’s back-up quarterback job behind Russell Wilson, Paxton Lynch clearly outplayed starter Geno Smith.
Pete Carroll was impressed and said so, but offered the caveat that Smith — who was just 3 for 9 throwing the ball — mostly faced the Broncos’ No. 1 defense.
Making reads in the passing game is a lot tougher when Von Miller is chasing you down.
The Denver game was more or less an extension of preseason camp, where impressions are made and then confirmed on tape.
Rookie receiver Gary Jennings has been bothered by a nagging hamstring, so he’s been fairly quiet in practice and contributed nothing against Denver, despite being on the field for 39 plays.
BUT JENNINGS exploded with a series of spectacular plays during Monday’s practice, and thus placed himself back in the discussion about which wideouts will survive on the roster.
That’s how jobs are won or lost.
Watching preseason games can be kind of fun, but you have to be careful not to draw any absolute conclusions.
Undrafted rookie wideout Jazz Ferguson has been terrific in camp and was the clear star against Denver, but Carroll and his staff will want to see consistency before anointing Ferguson as a legitimate NFL player.
See what I mean?
If you watched the Denver game on TV, you would feel certain that Ferguson is ahead of Jennings in the fight for a roster spot.
Behind the scenes, though, that may or may not be true.
I’m not saying that exhibitions can’t tell you anything.
We sort of knew that a couple of rookies from Utah — safety Marquise Blair and linebacker Cody Barton — have been running all over the place to make tackles in camp.
Then they did it against the Broncos, displaying a nose for the ball and the ability to deliver serious hits.
However, both made one serious error that allowed Denver to break a big play.
They’ll both be Seahawks after the cutdown and Blair may wind up as a starter, but those mistakes were a reminder that mistakes in the NFL can be ruthlessly punished.
THE TRUTH is that this year’s Seahawks present more (and different) types of questions than Carroll has likely faced in his tenure here in the Northwest.
There are key injuries that could impact things at the start of the season: Defensive end Ziggy Ansah’s rehab from a shoulder injury, and the nasty ankle sprain suffered by George Fant — who doubles as a tackle and tight end — could change things at the line of scrimmage.
Top draft choice L.J. Collier is also hurt, so with tackle Jarran Reed suspended for six games (along with the question mark over Ansah), the Seahawks have serious questions along the defensive line.
Another curious possibility: Linebacker Mychal Kendricks will be sentenced for a financial crime (insider trading) on Sept. 25, and there is no guarantee he won’t be packed off to prison.
When you add up all these questions, the biggest worry is a potential lack of any meaningful pass rush — which is one reason that a starting linebacker (Barkevious Mingo) was moved to defensive end, and why coordinator Ken Norton Jr. unleashed so many blitzes against Denver.
The Legion of Boom is gone, and Seattle no longer can simply overpower opposing offenses.
It feels weird to think that the Seahawks’ weak link could be defense, but that’s your new reality.
Maybe you seeing a hint of that in these preseason games…
But maybe not.
Steve Cameron’s “Cheap Seats” columns for The Press appear on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Steve also contributes the “Zags Tracker” package on Gonzaga basketball once monthly during the offseason.