Joey Hunt’s long-shot chance to become the Seahawks’ new center begins in earnest in about two weeks.
This weekend, the rookie draft choice Texas Christian will be one of the team’s touring players around Western Washington and Oregon -- including at a Rainiers game at Cheney Stadium on Sunday.
The Seahawks announced Wednesday Hunt will join rookie offensive lineman George Fant and recently retired wide receiver Ricardo Lockette in Centralia, Vancouver, Portland and Tacoma Friday through Sunday.
The guys touring before the team reports for training camp July 29 have particular interest.
At first glance, Hunt will look like the many fans who will be coming to see him this weekend. The Seahawks list him at 6 feet 2, but he’s actually 6-1 1/2 -- and looks shorter on the field. His shorter-than-league-average stature is why many thought he’d go undrafted, but Seattle drafted the three-year starter at TCU in the sixth round in May to join its competition with 2015 starter Patrick Lewis and converted guard and tackle Justin Britt.
Realistically, Hunt is the Seahawks’ Plan B or C this season at center. They will give Britt every chance in training camp to beat out Lewis, who is listed at 6-1 by the way. Lewis started the last half of last season and became line coach Tom Cable’s and head man Pete Carroll’s reason the pass protection for Russell Wilson improved from the first two months (when former undrafted defensive tackle Drew Nowak was the first replacement for traded Max Unger).
Britt started as a rookie second-round pick in 2014 at right tackle, including in Super Bowl 49. He started at left guard last season. So this could be Last Chance Saloon for him with the Seahawks, as a center.
I asked Cable last month during organized team activities if Britt was getting more reps then and will in training camp because the team already knows what it has in Lewis.
“We don’t look at things like that,” Cable said, emphasizing each year is a new competition. “We want to put Patrick in a competitive situation with Joey and Justin and let the three of them kind of duke it out. You kind of know what they’ve done, but every year is a new year. And some guys get better, some guys drop off. So we just want to create the best group we possibly can.”
Fant is a 6-5 former basketball player at Western Kentucky who played only one year of football, last season as a tight end. That was his first football since he was in eighth grade. The Seahawks signed him as an undrafted free agent and have been trying him at tackle.
Why? Because he vertical jumped 37 inches and ran his 296-pound body across 40 yards in 4.83 seconds at his pro day at Western Kentucky this spring.
Lockette, of course, has his story of fearing he might die when he got hit while covering a punt last November in a game at Dallas. The resulting neck injury and surgery ended his career. The day he announced his retirement in May at the age of 29, Lockette impressively said: “You live by the sword, you die by the sword.”
Fans in Centralia, Vancouver, Portland and Tacoma can talk to him about that -- as well as to Hunt and Fant -- this weekend.