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Cowboys @ Seahawks: “We're hoping against hope that Russell Wilson doesn't get injured in a dumb preseason game”

We asked five good questions about the team from the Great Northwest.

Seattle Seahawks v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The Cowboys travel up to Seattle to play the Seahawks on Thursday night. This is the third preseason game, so it’s the “dress rehearsal” and the one that should most resemble a regular-season game. To find out more about the Cowboys opponent, we spoke with the SB Nation Seahawks blog, Field Gulls.

Blogging The Boys: The third preseason game is here, traditionally the "dress rehearsal" for teams. Will we see a lot of the first unit for the Seahawks? Are there any starters that won't play because of injury or other reasons?

Field Gulls: Coaches have confirmed that they'll be playing starters into the second half on Thursday. Starters you definitely won't see include Jimmy Graham and running back Thomas Rawls, but I think that's it for the "definite" outs. Safety Kam Chancellor has missed two weeks with a groin injury but returned to practice this week and could play.

You're gonna mostly see the "regular season" Seahawks for the first half, and some of the second half. The biggest concern there would be that Russell Wilson played the whole first half against the Minnesota Vikings last week and took four sacks, including an ugly-looking final takedown. With a very inconsistent offensive line, we're hoping against hope that Wilson doesn't get injured in a dumb preseason game, but he and the line both need to get used to it either way because the regular season is almost here.

BTB: What's the progress of Jimmy Graham and what kind of season do you expect out of him?

FG: Progress has been mostly positive. Right now I would say he's "questionable" for Week 1 with a high expectation that he'll at least be able to suit up and take some reps, perhaps get a few targets. I think his "down season" for Seattle last year was way overblown by fans and the media. He was normal Jimmy Graham in a lower-volume passing offense. The only thing we wanted to see more of was red zone touchdowns but the sample size is too small to make too much out of. It's hard to know what to expect out of any football player after they tear their patellar tendon, as we've seen with Victor Cruz.

My general thought is that I expect him to play 12-16 games, catch 45-60 passes, for 600-900 yards, with 5-6 touchdowns. Wilson has so many weapons at his disposal right now that they don't need to rely to heavily on Graham.

BTB: How do you see the Seahawks running back situation shaking out? Will Thomas Rawls return and be the man right away, or will he be sharing time with Christine Michael. And what about the rookie running backs?

FG: The way it seems to be shaking out is Rawls is the starter, Michael gets some reps, C.J. Prosise becomes the third down back, and then there's a competition between Troymaine Pope, Alex Collins, and Zac Brooks to make the roster for one of the few remaining spots.

I think Rawls will be "the man" and push for 1,000 to 1,200 yards. He was really amazing last season. When you watch the tape, you can see it was more than just being in the "system." He was way, way better than Marshawn Lynch in 2015. Michael has come back with a seemingly fresh attitude but is also doing a lot of new (and better) things on the field that would seem to suggest a trade to Dallas isn't coming this year. He's produced at a high level in the preseason and might be a part of the offense this year.

Prosise missed most of training camp with a hamstring injury and is a maybe to play on Thursday. Who knows.

Fans like Pope (UDFA out of Jacksonville State, signed during camp) more than Collins after seeing two preseason games, but I'm not so quick to jump to those conclusions given the circumstances of their carries. But we definitely want to see a good game from Collins this week or he's certainly in danger of getting cut because it's such a competitive roster and position, as Michael and Robert Turbin found out last year.

BTB: Give us some players to watch in the best position battles for Seattle in the game on Thursday.

FG: Left Tackle is down to Bradley Sowell and Garry Gilliam. It would be a shocking upset but Sowell was basically a street free agent who is in the lead to protect Wilson's blind side.

Right Tackle is down to Gilliam and J'Marcus Webb. We haven't seen much of Webb but he should return and play this week.

They signed Jahri Evans, who you'd think is a starting guard, but I'm not sure where he fits anymore. The guards look pretty okay, especially rookie Germain Ifedi.

Starting strongside linebacker is a competition between Mike Morgan, Eric Pinkins, and Cassius Marsh. Too soon to tell.

There's also competition at starting cornerback opposite of Richard Sherman between DeShawn Shead, Tharold Simon, and Jeremy Lane. I think Shead will start over Simon, but Lane will start and move inside to play the slot in nickel packages.

But one thing to look out for is the number five (and six?) receiver spot. It won't be that consequential during the season, but there are about eight players you could make an argument for to win that job. Look for 6'6 Tanner McEvoy, seventh round pick Kenny Lawler, and sleeper Antwan Goodley to make some more big plays on Thursday.

BTB: What's the general feeling about the Seahawks heading into the 2016 season. Where are things going right, and where is the concern?

FG: I think everything is lining up for Wilson to "prove" his 2015 season wasn't a fluke and that he is an elite quarterback in this league. The offense could really be exciting with Rawls, Michael, Prosise, Doug Baldwin, Tyler Lockett, Jermaine Kearse, Paul Richardson, Graham, Luke Willson, and Nick Vannett at his disposal. The biggest concern is the offensive line but they've finally got a couple of good pieces to build around it seems like: Ifedi and center Justin Britt, who has been great this year following another position change after playing tackle and guard.

If they can protect Wilson, things will go right. If they can't, there will be a lot of low-scoring games, and Carroll has already proven capable of losing low-scoring games and blowing fourth quarter leads. The Seahawks need to put the gas on in the first half and not let up, which is something they seem to struggle with every season. It could be as good as their 2013 Super Bowl year or as bad as their 31-0 deficit to the Panthers in the playoffs last season.

Thanks for the knowledge, Field Gulls!