Seahawks Coach Pete Carroll Breaks Down Rookie Preseason Debuts – Sports Illustrated

The NFL preseason is a prime time to get rookies acclimated to life at the highest level, and the Seattle Seahawks did their best to capitalize on the opportunity during Saturday night's contest against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
In total, eight of Seattle's nine draft picks (all but defensive end Tyreke Smith) saw action in the preseason opener, with several playing key roles in the Seahawks' valiant comeback from an early 14-0 deficit.
While their efforts ultimately fell short in the 32-25 loss, Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll saw plenty of encouraging signs from his team. When discussing the quality of play by Seattle's offensive line, Carroll singled out rookie offensive tackles Charles Cross and Abraham Lucas, two highly touted players viewed as potential early impact pieces up front.
"Both the young tackles did a nice job and got some good stuff done," Carroll said. "I can't wait to watch them on film, but just overall, the coaches were really pleased with what they accomplished."
Cross and Lucas blocked so seventh-round receivers Bo Melton and Dareke Young could run. Melton led the Seahawks in receiving, catching two of his three targets for 47 yards, including a 39-yard catch-and-run, while Young hauled in four passes on five targets, racking up 30 yards and a touchdown along the way.
While Seattle received several quality efforts from its offensive rookie, perhaps the most noteworthy performance of the night came from second-round outside linebacker Boye Mafe.
The 6-4, 261-pound Mafe was everywhere, posting two sacks, one tackle for a loss and a quarterback hit. He also made a huge play in pursuit of Kenny Pickett to force a turnover on downs and give the Seahawks the ball in plus position with under 90 seconds to go.
“A great stop by Boye Mafe on a beautiful play,” Carroll marveled. ”That was a great play by Mafe and gave us a chance to come back and win the football game.”
With all of the intricacies of coaching in the NFL, Carroll admittedly was unable to focus on solely Mafe all night. Based on the box score production, Seattle's veteran coach left Acrisure Stadium eager to get to the film and see if the former Minnesota star played as well as the numbers indicated.
"I'm really anxious to watch Boye, to see how he did," said Carroll. "He had a couple of big plays (and) might've missed one, too. That's what we were hoping to see from him."
While Mafe starred up front, the Seahawks had two players behind him on the second level turn in standout efforts. Rookie linebackers Joel Dublanko and Vi Jones were the team's leading tacklers, totaling eight and six, respectively. Jones also had a sack, tackle for loss and quarterback hit.
With Carroll having singled out tackling as Seattle's most glaring issue, Dublanko and Jones surely stood out. A Seahawk for just over a week, Dublanko is off to a good start, according to Carroll.
"Joel has done some pretty cool stuff on the practice field in a short amount of time," Carroll remarked. "He's made a good impression on us. First play he ever played, he (made) an interception in the Lumen (mock) game. He's got that golden horseshoe in his back pocket."
It wasn't all positive for Seattle's rookies, as corners Tariq Woolen and Coby Bryant turned in inconsistent days. While the two were likely to significant action anyways, they were forced into the starting lineup due to the injuries of starters Tre Brown, Sidney Jones and Artie Burns.
Carroll noticed the up-and-down reps for the pair, but ultimately believes they'll be better off down the road having been in games like that.
"I thought they got beat around a little bit," Carroll said. "They had plays to make, and maybe (had) some jitters. Those guys can make all those plays. Every play that happened to them, they've been making. They'll do better. It was a great experience for them."
Considering the strong showings from quarterbacks Drew Lock and Geno Smith, the encouraging start from the rookies and the overall resiliency shown by the time, Seattle's opening preseason game might just be a win after all, even if the box score tells a different story.
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