The 36-year-old Manning is looking to shake off some rust after sitting out the 2011 season because of neck surgery that threatened to end his career. He is expected to play the first quarter and perhaps into the second.
Manning experienced a whirlwind of offseason activity after Indianapolis, his longtime team, released him. Widespread interest in him as a free agent included Seattle. Coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider went so far as to fly to Denver in team owner Paul Allen’s private jet in an attempt to woo Manning to Seattle.
Of course, the Seahawks’ efforts were rebuffed, and Manning eventually signed with the Broncos.
No matter. Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman, who faced Manning’s replacement in Indianapolis, Andrew Luck, every day in practice at Stanford, says his team doesn’t feel any added pressure in taking on a quarterback of Manning’s stature.
“Unless you can find a quarterback that can teleport the ball into a receiver’s hands, it’s all the same,” Sherman said. “They still throw interceptions. They still throw incompletions and good defenses can stop them.”
Seattle’s starting defense was in regular-season form against Tennessee last week, forcing former Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck into two interceptions, including an early one returned by Brandon Browner for a touchdown.
Seattle held Tennessee to 146 total yards and 3 points in the first half.
But the last time Seattle faced Manning, he made quick work of the Seahawks. Manning threw for 353 yards and two touchdowns on 31-of-41 accuracy in the Colts’ 34-17 win over Seattle in Indianapolis on Oct. 4, 2009 – Jim Mora’s first and only season as Seattle’s head coach.
Carroll said he’s interested to see how his defense responds to the challenge of facing Manning.
“I’ll be excited to see him and see how we do against him,” Carroll said. “We’re going to take that very seriously knowing that he’s as equipped a quarterback as you can go against. I don’t know what they’ll try to do or how much they’ll try to use all of the great stuff that he brings – all the tempo he can bring, all of the checks he makes at the line of scrimmage. I don’t know what they’ll try to do against us. That would be a good test for us right out of the chute and it’s fun for the young guys to play against him. There are a lot of the guys looking forward to that.”
Sherman said he understands the unique challenge that Manning brings to the game as one of the best quarterbacks in history, but still thinks he and his teammates will have the opportunity to make some game-changing plays.
“He’s a great quarterback; his rsum speaks for itself,” Sherman said. “But I don’t think we look at him any different than anybody else. Because any time you start marking games and saying this quarterback is above another quarterback, you start making other quarterbacks look better than what they are. So we prepare for him just like we prepare for (John) Skelton or (Kevin) Kolb or any of the other quarterbacks out there.
“We prepare for everybody equally. We check out the film, because at the end of the day the quarterback can only do so much. The play calls are out there. The route concepts are out there, and they’ll be the same regardless of who’s under center.”
SEATTLE (1-0 PRESEASON) AT DENVER (1-0)
6 p.m., Sports Authority Field at Mile High
TV: Ch. 13. Radio: 710-AM, 97.3-FM.
The series: The Seahawks are 1-8 in exhibition contests against their old AFC West rival Denver. The Broncos won last summer, 23-20, in Denver. The Broncos also hold a 34-18 advantage in regular-season play.
What to watch: Although he participated in contact drills for the first time during training camp this week, receiver Sidney Rice (shoulder) will miss his second straight game. Fellow receiver Doug Baldwin (hamstring) also is unlikely to play for a second week. However, receivers Terrell Owens and Ricardo Lockette are expected to play today. Marshawn Lynch is healthy, but Carroll would not say if his star running back will play against the Broncos. Quarterback Matt Flynn will get his second start and play the entire first half. Rookie signal-caller Russell Wilson will start and play the entire second half. Incumbent starter Tarvaris Jackson is not expected to play today. Former University of Washington standout defensive back Ron Milus, coaches the defensive secondary for the Broncos. Denver players with connections to the state of Washington include former Washington State University receiver Jason Hill, former University of Washington fullback Austin Sylvester and former Seahawks receiver Brandon Stokley.