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5 things to watch for in the Seahawks-Chargers preseason game

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson throws during NFL football practice Thursday, June 15, 2017, in Renton, Wash. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
AP Photo/Elaine Thompson

The final game of the Week 1 preseason features a couple of teams with big aspirations heading into the 2017 season. The Los Angeles Chargers seem to be the trendy pick every year, and this one is no different. Despite losing their second-round pick for the season, a player who would have probably been their best offensive lineman, the Chargers offense should be able to put points up. Their first-round pick, Mike Williams, won’t be available any time soon it appears. He just started running last week, and his football shape will take some time to get to where it needs to be.

The Seattle Seahawks are going to be fun to watch. The makeshift offensive line will still likely have quarterback Russell Wilson running for his life. We’ll see if they have a receiver opposite of Doug Baldwin who can consistently step up and give Wilson a competent target. Paul Richardson was headed that way after a strong playoff game last season, so perhaps that will carry over to this season.

Both teams should boast top-10 units on defense. The Chargers don’t have much depth, and the inevitable injury they’ll suffer likely will keep them from reaching their ceiling on that side of the ball. But they have some talent. Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa have a chance to be forces  rushing the passer off the edge. The Chargers lack interior pressure, but they also feature the second-best pair of corners in the league in Jason Verrett and Casey Hayward. Both have injury histories; Verrett’s far more severe. If those two can stay healthy, the Chargers defense can win them some ball games.

The Seahawks defense, even despite rookie losing Malik McDowell, is going to be tough to score on. It’s fast. It makes plays. It has great players on every level. Frank Clark, Michael Bennett, and Cliff Avril are tough to block individually. When you put them all on the field at the same time, somebody is going to win. That makes life easier on Earl Thomas and Richard Sherman. Seattle needs to find help opposite Sherman. That’s the lone area it lacks on this side of the ball for now. With the fast-flowing linebackers that clean up everything, the Seahawks will always be stellar against the run.

Here are five things that I’m watching for during tonight’s game.

Is Russell Wilson running for his life during the first series?

Whomever the Seahawks throw out tonight as their first five likely won’t be the five who are starting when it comes playoff time. They’ll work through numerous combinations to see who is the best fit, and how players are working alongside each other. The unfortunate part of this is risking the health of your quarterback. Also, if he is always on the run, as good as he is, it’ll be tough for the offense to stay on track.

ATLANTA, GA - JANUARY 14: Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (3) looks to pass the ball during the first half of the NFC Divisional Playoff game between the Seattle Seahawks and the Atlanta Falcons on January 14, 2017, at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Georgia. The Falcons beat the Seahawks 36-20. (Photo by Frank Mattia/Icon Sportswire)

(Photo by Frank Mattia/Icon Sportswire)

How are the Chargers safeties playing?

Last year, the Chargers’ safety play was a mess. Dwight Lowery was a liability. Jahleel Addae was improved, but still inconsistent. He’s also proven to be injury prone. The Chargers brought in some reinforcements. Tre Boston was a free-agent signing from Carolina who should be an upgrade in centerfield. He isn’t a sure tackler, but against the pass he is very good. Fourth-round rookie Rayshawn Jenkins will be someone to keep an eye on, as he’s practiced well recently.

Are the quarterbacks turning the ball over?

Over the last three seasons, no quarterback has thrown more interceptions than Philip Rivers. Wilson has been very good at protecting the ball in regards to throwing it to the other team. Fumbling or hidden yardage are things to keep an eye on.

Sack masters

Both teams have players who can get after the quarterback in a hurry. I’ll be looking to see how the young guys have improved their pass rush. Both offensive lines are bad until proven otherwise. So the five edge rushers mentioned should have a field day.

Big plays on offense

I’m ready to see some big-hitting plays, whether it’s Melvin Gordon or Thomas Rawls breaking a long run, or one of the speedy receivers on both teams taking a screen for a big gain or a deep ball. I’d like to see the offensive coordinators take some shots downfield early in the game and test the defenses.

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