Rookie watch: Youngsters debut in Seahawks preseason opener

After waiting through the long offseason, the Seattle Seahawks opened the 2019 preseason at home against the Denver Broncos in a game that finally gave fans a chance to see many of the team’s rookies on the field. It was preseason, though, so the action was rough to watch at times, but it was football, and the Hawks did enough to come away victorious. On the way to that 22-14 victory, some rookies looked great, and some looked less than great. With the roster still at 90 players there were far too many rookies seeing a lot of action to go through all of them, so these are simply the ones who stood out, either for better or worse.

Jazz Ferguson, WR (UDFA)

Ferguson is a name that a lot of fans may have become familiar with over the past few months based on his combination of size (6’4-3/4”, 228 pounds) and speed (4.45 40 time) that Pete Carroll has been searching for since arriving in Seattle nearly a decade ago. He followed a rocky path to Seattle, starting out as a top recruit for LSU, but failing out of school academically before moving on to FCS Northwestern State.

At Northwest State his 2018 season started off strong enough, but he became the team’s go to offensive weapon down the stretch. Over the final six games of the 2018 season he averaged 11 targets, 7.2 receptions, 100 yards and 1.5 touchdowns per game while logging no fewer than 70 yards in any single game. He became a focal point of the offense, and yet opponents could do little to stop him.

Thursday night he showed why. Against Denver he caught all four targets thrown his way, leading the team with 54 yards receiving and the first touchdown of the preseason for the Hawks. Obviously, all that production came in the second half, so it will be interesting to see if he is given an opportunity to play against the starters of opponents in future weeks, but on Thursday he seemed to do everything that was asked of him.

The drafted WRs – DK Metcalf (2nd Round), Gary Jennings (4th Round) and John Ursua (7th Round)

While Ferguson was busy catching everything thrown his way, the same was not exactly true for the three receivers the Seahawks drafted in April. The trio combined for just 31 yards on two catches in spite of eight targets. There were two deep balls to Metcalf that were just too far out of his reach for him to haul them in, so while it was disappointing that he just missed a couple of big plays in his first on field action, it’s far from the end of the world.

In spite of not putting up the numbers he and fans would have like to see, Metcalf certainly displayed the speed that helped him run a 4.38 40 and create a hype storm heading into the draft.

Metcalf finished the game with one catch for eight yards on four targets, while Jennings was unable to pull in either of the balls thrown his way during the contest. Ursua, however, did make one catch, while he appeared to make a second catch initially, the reception was overturned on the field and ruled incomplete. That said, the biggest impression Ursua made was the hop move he made on his reception, which was reminiscent of other Seahawks receivers for many fans.

And for those who didn’t stay up to watch the whole game, here’s the move that grabbed everyone’s attention.

Drafted defensive players – Marquise Blair (2nd Round), Cody Barton (3rd Round), Ugo Amadi (4th Round) and Ben Burr-Kirven (5th Round)

The Seahawks were reportedly looking to restock the defense for the future and improve the special teams units through the draft. Well, it’s only Week 1 of the preseason, but I’m going to go ahead and mark this off as likely being something that was accomplished. Special teams mainstays from 2018 Shaquem Griffin and Neiko Thorpe made plays like they are known to do on special teams, but the youngsters got into things as well.

And it wasn’t just on special teams that the youngsters got involved. Blair led the team in tackles in the game, while Barton was just one stop behind him. The two definitely showed flashes of what made them Day 2 selections, though Blair also showed a lack of system discipline at one point that allowed the Broncos to pick up a big gain.

That said, he also showed that he might be the type of thumper the team has been looking for in the secondary.

With Week 1 of the preseason in the books for the Hawks, it’s on to Week 2, in which Seattle will travel to take on the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday, August 18.

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John P. Gilbert
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