Too many penalties, too little protection for Seahawks

There were a couple of red flags in Saturday’s exhibition game.

Those were just for replay reviews, though. There were too many yellow flags for coach Pete Carroll’s taste as Seattle was penalized twice as often as Minnesota.

August is no time to draw conclusions in the NFL, but halfway through Seattle’s exhibition schedule, it’s time to take inventory of what we’ve learned about these Seahawks and what they still must figure out:

Three things we learned

1. Charlie Whitehurst is a more decisive quarterback this season.

It’s true that he’s playing against second-unit defenses while Tarvaris Jackson faces the starters, but it’s equally clear that Whitehurst’s decision-making has been quicker in his second preseason as a Seahawk. He has completed more than 70 percent of his passes and currently ranks No. 11 in passer rating out of all NFL quarterbacks.

2. There’s a reason coach Pete Carroll kept Josh Pinkard around.

The safety has that playmaker’s knack, which he showed knocking loose a fourth-quarter fumble that gave Seattle a chance at a last-minute comeback. Pinkard suffered three season-ending knee surgeries in six years at USC, but he was always someone Carroll regarded very highly for his ability to make something happen. Pinkard started last season on the physically-unable-to-perform (PUP) list and ended the year on the practice squad. As a second-year safety, he’s playing himself toward a role as the fifth defensive back in Seattle’s nickel package.

3. Third-string quarterback Josh Portis needs to learn to slide.

Like, right now. The undrafted rookie from California University in Pennsylvania is quick, no doubt, and he led Seattle with 46 yards rushing amassed in the final 2 minutes, 9 seconds of Saturday’s game, but he needs to get out of harm’s way in a hurry. If that was a starting NFL defense and not the deep reserves on the field, his clock wouldn’t have gotten cleaned so much as crushed. Portis is a very intriguing developmental prospect, not nearly as raw as many expected. Discretion is going to have to become part of his plan, though.

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