Somewhere in the Seattle area, Julius Jones is holding his breath.
That’s because not only did newly signed veteran running back Edgerrin James surprise Seahawks fans by playing in the Seahawks’ 31-21 preseason home victory against the Oakland Raiders, but James started and looked good.
James’ only two carries came as the first two plays of the game. Both went off the right tackle.
Two carries. Eleven yards.
In those eleven yards, James went up against Oakland’s starting defensive unit and, in so doing, proved that the former disgruntled Arizona Cardinal still has something left in him.
What this means for Jones is that, for the time being, the both him and James could see shared time in the Seattle backfield, but if Jones gets hurt or doesn’t produce early, James could become the one handling the bulk of the team’s rushing responsibilities.
Defensively, rookie outside linebacker Aaron Curry showed why some national experts considered him to be the top player in the 2009 NFL Draft.
On Oakland’s first play of the game, Curry rushed from Raiders quarterback JaMarcus Russell’s strong side and appeared to get taken out of the play after he was picked up by an Oakland offensive lineman. Instead, Curry gets around the blocker and charges back into the play from behind the pocket, lunging and wrapping up Russell to help David Hawthorne record the sack and a five-yard loss.
On the first play of the second quarter, Curry showed off his ability to close in on an offensive player and make an open-field tackle, coming out of his zone coverage read to turn a Luke Lawton screen pass from Jeff Garcia into a play that resulted in a one-yard loss.
Curry continued to wreak havoc on the Raiders offense, flying off the right side of the defensive line unabated, sacking an oblivious Oakland reserve quarterback Bruce Gradkowski for an eight-yard loss and, in the process, forcing Gradkowski to fumble. Seattle’s Nick Reed recovered the football and set up his Seattle offensive counterparts in excellent field position in what turned up being an Olindo Mare 24-yard field goal.
Seattle scored first in the game, when Deon Butler came over the middle to haul in a Mike Teel pass and then waltz into the end zone untouched for a 22-yard touchdown on Seattle’s offensive series of the game.
Three plays later, Oakland’s Louis Rankin, a former University of Washington Husky, took a handoff up the middle and scooted 45 yards to tie the game up at 7-7.
The Seahawks then went on to put up 24 unanswered points through the second and third quarters on a 38-yard touchdown reception from Mike Teel to Ben Obomanu, the Mare field goal, a one-yard Devin Moore run and a 44-yard Logan Payne scoring strike from Jeff Rowe.
Oakland put up its final 14 points in the fourth quarter, both on Gary Russell runs.
Seattle went 4-0 during the preseason and now turns its attention to Saturday’s mandatory roster cuts to get down to the 53-man roster limit.
On the injury front, the Seahawks will have to decide as to whether they should keep starting cornerback Marcus Trufant on the Physically Unable to Perform list. If they were to do this, Trufant would not be eligible to play until Seattle’s seventh game of the season.
Also, the team will need to figure out if and when all-pro left tackle Walter Jones will be able to return to the starting lineup. Without Jones, Seattle’s offensive line is markedly worse in both opening up holes for the team’s running backs and in its pass protection for quarterback Matt Hasselbeck.
Seattle opens the season with a home game against one of their NFC West rivals, the St. Louis Rams. Kickoff for that game is scheduled for September 13 at 4:15pm Eastern.