Preseason football is like a blind date. Sure, you're finally going out on Sunday night, but you never really know what you're going out with!
What we do know is that the starters, Hasselbeck, Alexander and the like, will be in the game barely long enough to work up a sweat. What we also know is that most of the media focus will be on the rookies, like Wilson, Mebane and Atkins, and newly acquired free agents, like Kerney, Pollard, Russell and Grant.
So how do you keep yourself interested in the game after the stars are on the bench in baseball caps?
Here are five returning Seahawks players to watch, whose performance may be critical to the success of the team in 2008:
Chris Spencer (65) - granted he's a starter, but he'll probably play a good portion of the game, to get as much game-speed activity as possible and to work on the Center-QB exchange with Seneca. He got a lot of experience last season, but now that he's taking over for Robbie Tobeck and calling out the blocking assignments, his performance will be a determining factor in the effectiveness of our offense.
Leonard Weaver (43) - with Shaun and Mack sure to be out of the game early, Weaver should see a lot of time at fullback and even some tailback. Will he still be as explosive after the ankle injury that landed him on IR last season, and will he be once again baptising people with that incredible stiff-arm?
Will Heller (85) - Marcus Pollard is four inches shorter and 6 years older than former staring TE Jerramy Stevens, which means that Will Heller will probably see more playing time this coming season. Is Heller more like Itula Mili, the starting TE before Stevens, or more like former TE Ryan Hannam, mostly a blocker who was rarely a target in the offensive game plan? The WCO needs an effective TE who can both block and make critical catches when called upon, and we'll need more than one option with Pollard as the starter.
EDIT: just read that neither Will Heller nor 3rd stringer TE Bennie Joppru are making the trip to San Diego, so I guess I'll be watching rookie Joe Newton (46) and third year man Leonard Stephens (89) instead. (Not sure if Leo's surname will help or hurt him, even if it is spelled a little differently!)
David Greene (11) - All Seahawks fans now feel more comfortable with Seneca Wallace after last season, but this is the make or break year for Greene, entering his third season as the head clipboard holder. If he can impress Holms enough to potentially be slotted as Matt's backup, that can free up Seneca to be used in more creative ways, either returning kicks and/or punts, or as a "slash" type of receiver.
Michael Boulware (28) - Only two short seasons ago, Boulware was featured in a Disney commercial leading up to the Super Bowl. Now with the departure of Hamlin and the arrival of Grant and Russell, his future with the Seahawks may be in jeopardy. Can he keep his head in the game as a backup, and play assignment-correct when called upon? If not, he could be a surprise cut when rosters spots become a premium.
Lastly, since this is also pre-season for us fans, here's a little roster cheat sheet so you don't yell "way to go Jerramy" when you see a TE named Stephens on the field, or "drop back Hammer" when you see #26 lining up at cornerback.
26 - CB Josh Wilson (used to be Ken Hamlin, who is now a Cowboy)
39 - SS C.J. Wallace (used to be Josh Scobey, who is now a Bill)
69 - OG Steve Vallos (used to be Joe Tafoya, who is now a Cardinal)
82 - WR Jordan Kent (used to be Darrell Jackson, who is now a 49er)
86 - WR Courtney Taylor (used to be Jerramy Stevens, who is now a Buc)
88 - TE Marcus Pollars (used to be Itula Mili, who is now retired)
98 - DT Marcus Green (used to be Grant Wistrom, who is now retired)