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Why their oldest player and coach say ‘it’s not time to panic or worry’ about the Seahawks

Big Al Woods has been through this before.

Eleven other times.

He’s a rancher. A father. A 35-year-old defensive tackle. So he’s got a few other things to obsess about.

The Seahawks’ — ahem — “most veteran” player has this advice for the many of you freaking out over how bad Seattle’s offense, defense, special teams, everything has looked through two preseason games.

“Just because a lot of starters are not playing, a lot of stuff is not being shown right now, obviously, I don’t think it’s time to panic or worry,” Woods said.

The 330-pound run stopper did not play in the Seahawks’ 32-25 loss at Pittsburgh marred by poor tackling and rookie defensive backs not making plays on the ball Aug. 13. Five days later Woods started but barely played as the Seahawks were worse tackling, worse on offense and, worst, booed at Lumen Field while falling behind Chicago 24-0. That exhibition ended in a 27-11 defeat.

The Seahawks’ oldest player and their 70-year-old coach are counting on Woods being right about this not being time to worry.

If he’s wrong, if the first two preseason games are in fact a true indication, this Seahawks’ season is going to be more than long. It’s going to be interminable.

Fact is, five Seahawks starters have yet to play a down this preseason in the name of preservation: Quandre Diggs, Jamal Adams, Sidney Jones, Jordyn Brooks and Rashaad Penny. That’s three-fourths of the secondary, plus the replacements for departed All-Pro Bobby Wagner and retired lead running back Chris Carson.

Woods has barely played. Two others, top receivers DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett, have played only one series total in the two exhibition games. That’s eight of 22 regulars who basically have had nothing to do with the mess of the first two exhibitions.

Houston Texans running back Rex Burkhead (28) is stopped by Seattle Seahawks defensive tackle Al Woods (99) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 12, 2021, in Houston. (AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith)
Houston Texans running back Rex Burkhead (28) is stopped by Seattle Seahawks defensive tackle Al Woods (99) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 12, 2021, in Houston. (AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith)

Metcalf and Lockett have watched Freddie Swain, rookies Bo Melton and Dareke Young plus other receivers drop passes of Geno Smith and Drew Lock.

Lock was supposed to be the starting quarterback against the Bears last week. He tested positive for COVID-19 and missed the game. He returned to practice Sunday.

Shift in focus

That Sunday practice was Carroll’s pivot point in the preseason.

This week, Carroll has gone from focusing on developing younger players and depth to focusing on preparing the guys are going to play for the regular season. That begins Sept. 12 against Russell Wilson’s Denver Broncos at Lumen Field.

“The focus really shifts to the starters and the guys that we are counting on (to do) a lot of playing,” Carroll said. “We’ve been developing guys throughout and working with them in making sure that we know who we have and making it competitive and all that. And the starters have been getting reps.

“But the focus (now) goes directly to the guys who are going to do all the playing. So, the scripts and the preparation of the practice and design is to make sure they are ready to go now. So, that’s the clear shift for us.”

Carroll was asked after the exhibition loss to the Bears if he was worried about his team.

“Am I worried? No,” Carroll said. “What I am, I want to maintain my patience knowing who’s playing and the guys that are going to play on game day when we open up. I’m more concerned about, are they ready based on the amount of work that they’ve been able to get?”

His shift this week has a glaring exception: The most important position in the sport.

So far, the quarterback competition remains mostly stalled.

Sunday, Smith and Lock alternated series with the starting offense. That’s the first time that had happened since Lock arrived March 8 as part of the Seahawks’ trading Wilson to Denver.

Smith has started the first two preseason games. Wilson’s backup the last three seasons for Seattle has been the number-one QB for all but one practice since offseason practices began in May.

That was last Tuesday, the day Lock was the starter in practice — then tested positive for COVID.

There was no alternating Monday. In an unusually light practice in no pads and no helmets, Smith was back exclusively with the ones and Lock exclusively with the twos again.

Tuesday and Wednesday are the last full practices before the team’s final preseason game, at Dallas Friday evening.

Will Lock get essentially a do-over of last week from Carroll and start the game? If so, will Carroll play his starters longer than he normally does in a preseason finale (which is almost not at all)?

Lock playing with the starters to create a true competition and apples-to-apples comparison with Smith is what this Seahawks quarterback derby continues to lack.

“I still need to see him play and need to see him fit in with our guys and all that,” Carroll said.

“We’ll see how he goes this week. And I plan on him playing a lot a lot this week.”

Drew Lock (2) throws a touchdown pass to rookie wide receiver Dareke Young during the second half of the Seahawks’ preseason opener at the Pittsburgh Steelers Aug. 13, 2022.
Drew Lock (2) throws a touchdown pass to rookie wide receiver Dareke Young during the second half of the Seahawks’ preseason opener at the Pittsburgh Steelers Aug. 13, 2022.

QB derby will go into September

Fans may assume the final preseason game is Lock’s final chance to win the job.

It isn’t.

The Seahawks have 16 days between the game at Dallas Friday and the opener against Denver. That’s a product of the NFL reducing the preseason from four games to three. There’s no more fourth and final preseason game on the Thursday of Labor Day weekend. That means Seattle has three full weeks of practice, including this one, to alternate and evaluate Smith and Lock before the opener.

And the way this summer has gone, the quarterback who starts the opener isn’t necessarily the one who will start the majority of Seahawks games this season.

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith (7) looks to throw the ball down the field during the first half of the Seahawks second preseason game at Lumen Field in Seattle, Wash. on August 18, 2022.
Seattle Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith (7) looks to throw the ball down the field during the first half of the Seahawks second preseason game at Lumen Field in Seattle, Wash. on August 18, 2022.

“I don’t think there’s any date pressure on me at all, in that regard. I think you’re right on that,” Carroll said. “I’m going to take the time it takes to figure out and make sure we have all the information that we need. I can’t wait to see what happens in this game.

“Geno’s done a good job, and Geno needs a little more help from some guys. They’ve got to be able to catch the football a little better. But he’s handled it well. You’ve got to go back like three days he had three drives with two touchdown drives. He’s put some stuff on the resume out there. And so we’ll see what happens this week.

“And we do have really good weeks of practice coming up. This week is a great one, next week is a great one and the one after is a great one. So we’ll use all of that if we need it.”