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National Football League

NFL Preseason Preview - Seattle (0-0) at San Diego (0-0)



By John McMullen, NFL Editor

(Sports Network) - Expectations are high in the Pacific Northwest these days as the talented Seattle Seahawks prepare to open up the preseason against the rebuilding San Diego Chargers.

If there truly is an arms race going on between San Francisco and Seattle in the NFC West, it's currently at the height of Cold War levels because both clubs have amassed enough power to obliterate just about everyone else.

After trading for star slot receiver Percy Harvin, signing a pair of pass rushers in Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett, and inking perhaps the game's best nickel corner in Antoine Winfield, the Seahawks appeared to be entering camp with few weaknesses.

That changed a bit when Harvin, one of the game's elite playmakers, was diagnosed with a hip injury that required surgery, something that will keep the University Florida product sidelined until late in the season.

Second-year quarterback Russell Wilson must press on, however, and is excited to get a chance to play in he same stadium his late father, Harrison Wilson III, toiled in for a short time as a member of the Chargers.

"I'm excited to get back out on the field," Wilson said. "I'm excited to go to San Diego. That's where my dad played at one point. So just to be able to go back there and think about those memories means a lot to me."

Wilson understands the pressure he and his teammates are under but has focused on incremental improvement.

"If we can just get one more first down every game," Wilson said. "If you think about, with 16 regular-season game, that's 16 more third downs. We probably had a 190 or so third down plays last year, and if we can get just 16 more of those to be first downs. I think that's the way I'm looking at it right now."

New Chargers coach Mike McCoy arrives in America's most Beautiful City as the architect of the reclamation product called Philip Rivers.

Rivers is obviously talented but fell on hard times during the final season of the Norv Turner era, quite possibly due to his porous offensive line. Losing the team's best lineman, guard Louis Vasquez, to AFC West-rival Denver didn't help and mission No. 1 in San Diego will be rebuilding things up front.

D.J. Fluker was the best O-Line prospect left on the board when San Diego picked at No. 11 overall in the 2013 draft and general manger Tom Telesco bit. Fluker will join veteran tackles Max Starks and King Dunlap as well as guard Chad Rinehart as new options on the line.

Defensively, the spotlight figures to follow former Notre Dame inside linebacker Manti Te'o, a great college player who fell in the draft because of his strange "catfishing" scandal.

Injuries have already hurt San Diego badly with the latest coming earlier this week when receiver Danario Alexander sustained a torn right ACL during practice.

Alexander was coming off a strong 2012 campaign in which he established career bests of 37 catches, 658 receiving yards and seven touchdowns in 10 games after signing with the Chargers in midseason. The fourth-year pro had been projected as one of the team's starting wideouts.

San Diego also lost outside linebacker Melvin Ingram, the club's first- round selection in the 2012 draft, to a torn left ACL during OTAs in May. Reserve inside linebacker Jonas Mouton suffered the same injury to his right knee on the first day of training camp and was subsequently placed on injured reserve.

Thursday night's game marks the 12th all-time preseason meeting against Seattle. The Seahawks lead the series, 7-4.

08/07 14:30:40 ET


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