SEATTLE — With Percy Harvin out after hip surgery, it seemed very likely wide receiver Jermaine Kearse would end up on the Seattle Seahawks final roster.
He likely cemented his spot Saturday night, showing off skills he never displayed in college or the pros.
Kearse caught a 12-yard touchdown pass from Russell Wilson and returned a kickoff 107 yards for a score and the Seahawks used big plays to rout the Denver Broncos 40-10 in a preseason game.
Brandon Browner added a 106-yard fumble return for a touchdown, one of three turnovers forced by the Seahawks in the first half. Browner earlier forced a fumble and O’Brien Schofield also had a forced fumble and recovery.
Peyton Manning played the first 1½ quarters and threw an 11-yard touchdown to Wes Welker, and Von Miller played briefly after missing his first training camp practice Thursday to consult with the union’s lawyers over his appeal of his suspension.
But those appearances were secondary for the Broncos. Starting defensive end Derek Wolfe was taken off the field on a stretcher after injuring his neck in the first quarter. Denver later saw starting right guard Louis Vasquez leave with a left knee injury. The Broncos already had lost center Dan Koppen for the season with a torn ACL early in camp.
Wolfe was hurt with 9 minutes left in the quarter and on Seattle’s first offensive drive while he was blocked on a running play in which the Seahawks’ Robert Turbin gained 8 yards. The Broncos said Wolfe was being evaluated for a cervical spine injury and had movement in all of his extremities.
Denver coach John Fox said a CT scan showed no broken bones and the team said Wolfe was expected to fly on the team charter back to Denver tonight.
Wolfe was initially cut on the play by Seattle’s Luke Willson. As Wolfe was getting back up, fullback Michael Robinson collided with Wolfe appearing to compress his head and neck. Wolfe remained on the ground and appeared to be moving his legs initially, but medical personnel strapped him to a backboard and took him away in an ambulance.
Kearse never returned kicks in college at Washington or last season in his limited time on the Seahawks’ active roster. But the return game is one question the Seahawks have yet to answer with Harvin out for quite a while following surgery.
A year ago, Wilson was still fighting to earn the starting job. After getting two series’ last week against San Diego, Wilson played the entire first half and looked ready for the regular season. He finished 8 of 12 passing for 127 yards and two touchdowns. He hit Kearse to cap the Seahawks’ first drive and Sean McGrath juggled and caught a 3-yard TD from Wilson late in the first half.
Manning appeared just as ready, with Denver rolling up more 209 offensive yards in the first half, mostly against Seattle’s starting defense and most of that coming from Manning. He finished 11 of 16 for 163 yards and his TD toss to Welker, but neither Ronnie Hillman (13 carries for 34 yards) nor Montee Ball (six carries, 28 yards) was able to establish much in the run game.
And the turnovers led to Seattle making this one a blowout.
Denver tight end Julius Thomas was stripped by Browner following a 20-yard completion in Seattle territory in the first quarter. Heath Farwell later caused Hillman to fumble as he tried to stretch across the goal line and Browner returned the fumble from deep in the end zone to put Seattle up 24-7. Late in the first half, Schofield was able to knock the ball out of quarterback Brock Osweiler’s hand and fall on the fumble. That led to Wilson’s TD toss to McGrath and a 33-7 lead at halftime.
Stephen Williams added a 39-yard TD catch in the second half for Seattle, his second long TD reception in two games.