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 last displayed in high school.
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.
Kearse last returned kicks at Lakes High School less than an hour south of Seattle. He was approached this week about giving it a shot, with the return game one of Seattle’s main question marks with Harvin out.
“They came to me and asked if I could return and I wasn’t going to say no,” Kearse said. “I got some reps during the week and on Friday coach Carroll told me I was going to be able to get the first one. It was definitely a blessing.”
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.
“When I looked up I saw nothing but green ahead of me,” Browner said. “I only saw offensive linemen and I’ll always take my chances against offensive linemen.”
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 the 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.
“We need to get a few guys that have been injured back on the field, try to form the identity and the chemistry of this team,” Manning said. “We haven’t had all of our players at full speed, so hopefully that can start a little more this week, I know there were a few injuries tonight, but we still have work we need put in and improvements we need to make.”
Wolfe was hurt with 9 minutes left in the quarter on Seattle’s first offensive drive when he was blocked on a running play during 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 and appeared 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.
“It’s a scary situation,” Welker said. “You’re just praying for him and hoping that everything is OK and you definitely get concerned when you see the ambulance come out and things like that. Just hoping for the best.”
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 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.
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.
“I thought I was over the goal line, but anytime anything comes loose you don’t want to have it picked up by anybody else,” Hillman said. “I should have held on to the ball.”
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.
ST. LOUIS — Aaron Rodgers got the Green Bay Packers on the scoreboard for the first time in the preseason, but settled for six points after three productive drives in a 19-7 victory over the St. Louis Rams on Saturday night.
Sam Bradford had only himself to blame for putting up nice numbers, going 8 for 12 for 156 yards, with nothing to show for four possessions. His highlight throw was a 57-yarder that hit Chris Givens in stride to the Packers 4, but Bradford fumbled away the snap on fourth-and-goal from the 1 late in the first quarter.
Both Packers starting wide receivers are out with injuries, so Rodgers leaned on tight end Jermichael Finley while going 10 for 12 for 134 yards. All three drives stalled and the Packers had a pair of field goals by Mason Crosby when Rodgers turned the offense over to backup Graham Harrell in the second quarter.
The Packers (1-1) were shut out 17-0 by Arizona in the preseason opener with Rodgers playing just one series. The Rams averted a shutout on a 21-yard touchdown pass from Austin Davis to Nick Johnson with 59 seconds to go.
The Rams (0-2) got offensive skill upgrades, tight end Jared Cook and wide receiver Tavon Austin, involved for the first time. Cook had a 37-yard reception, almost all the yards coming after grabbing a low pass from Bradford, and Austin caught four passes but for just 28 yards.
CARDINALS 12, COWBOYS 7
GLENDALE, Ariz. — Dallas committed six turnovers, five in the first half, and Arizona sputtered past the Cowboys in the Cardinals’ preseason home opener.
Jay Feely kicked field goals of 25, 53, 40 and 22 yards for the Cardinals in the home debut of coach Bruce Arians.
Tony Romo completed 7 of 10 passes for 142 yards for Dallas (1-2) but was undone by two fumbles by his receivers, one at the Arizona 7. He also overthrew wide-open Terrance Williams for what would have been a sure touchdown.
Arizona’s Carson Palmer was 7 of 15 for 66 yards.
Dallas scored on a 5-yard pass from fourth-string quarterback Alex Tanney to Gavin Escobar with 10:55 to play, the first points allowed by Arizona (2-0) in the preseason.
JETS 37, JAGUARS 13
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Mark Sanchez led New York on five scoring drives in three quarters in an up-and down performance in a victory over Jacksonville.
Sanchez, trying to fend off rookie Geno Smith to keep his starting job, threw a touchdown pass to Jeff Cumberland, but also was intercepted at the goal line and cost New York (1-1) an early scoring opportunity. Smith sat out with a sprained ankle suffered in the preseason opener at Detroit.
Blaine Gabbert led the Jaguars (0-2) on two scoring drives and might have secured the starting job before leaving with a sprained thumb. Gabbert, competing with Chad Henne, was 13 of 16 for 165 yards and a touchdown.
Jacksonville’s Maurice Jones-Drew ran for 9 yards and had a 20-yard catch in his first game action since suffering a foot injury last October.
TEXANS 24, DOLPHINS 17
HOUSTON — Matt Schaub had a touchdown pass and backups Case Keenum and T.J. Yates both added a score to help Houston beat Miami.
Schaub played most of the first quarter for Houston (2-0) and got off to a rough start, throwing an interception on his first series and being sacked on third down on the second. He and the offense got going on the next drive, and he found tight end Owen Daniels wide open in the end zone for a 15-yard touchdown pass.
Ryan Tannehill looked sharp, throwing for 141 yards and a touchdown in just under a half of work for the Dolphins (1-2). But the offense took a blow when new tight end Dustin Keller sustained what appeared to be a serious right leg injury. No details of the injury were immediately available.
Houston first-round pick receiver DeAndre Hopkins was also injured; leaving in the second quarter with what the team says is a head injury.
BENGALS 27, TITANS 19
CINCINNATI — With All-Pro receiver A.J. Green watching again, Cincinnati’s offense had an impressive first half in a victory over Tennessee.
Rookie running back Giovani Bernard carried seven times for 37 yards and a touchdown, and turned a short pass into a 22-yard gain, giving the Bengals (2-0) the diversity they’re seeking out of the backfield.
After failing to score in the first quarter of a 34-10 win in Atlanta last week, the Bengals’ starters piled up 220 yards in the first half. Andy Dalton was 9 of 14 for 115 yards, including a 2-yard touchdown pass.
The Titans (0-2) failed to get a touchdown out of their starting offense in the first half, and they missed three consecutive field goals.