RENTON Bradley Sowell feels like this is the perfect spot for him.
“This” is not only being with the Seahawks -- he said Monday the reasons he signed with Seattle included its blocking system that requires linemen to be athletic, to run.
The former starter and backup with the Arizona Cardinals also told me following last week’s preseason game against Minnesota that left tackle, where he moved almost two weeks ago, is his most comfortable position.
“It’s where I played the year I started in Arizona (12 games, in 2013). And it’s where I played in college (at Mississippi),” Sowell said Monday.
Sunday, Sowell slammed Michael Bennett during a pass-rushing drill, then got in a fight with the Pro Bowl defensive end. But the two walked off the field together talking, and Sowell said Monday they ate lunch together after that contentious practice.
“It’s like brothers,” he said of the on-field competition and the spat.
The Seahawks and line coach Tom Cable love such fire. But they don’t want or need 350-pound road graders. Their system requires blockers to get out in space, get to their assigned zones, often run past and around defensive linemen to linebackers. To not just bang into the guys lined up directly over them.
That’s where 6-foot-7, 309-pound Sowell believes he fits in best.
“So far, they’ve put me in a great situation. I just feel really comfortable,” Sowell said following Monday’s practice in shoulder pads, helmets and shorts.
Cable on Sunday promised “different” moves on the offensive line this week, presumably in Thursday’s third preseason game against Dallas at CenturyLink Field. But for now, Sowell is still at left tackle and Garry Gilliam is still at right tackle. J’Marcus Webb, the previous No. 1 right tackle, has returned from a sprained knee to practice, but on the second and even third unit.
It’s seemingly three guys for two, remaining jobs open on the offensive line. The three other, interior positions appear set: the new center is Justin Britt, the new left guard is Mark Glowinski and rookie Germain Ifedi will start the regular season as the right guard.
Sowell had seemed destined to be the “swing” tackle, a reserve on both the right and left like he was in Arizona, until Webb got hurt. Now Sowell is getting all the practices and -- through two exhibitions -- game reps at left tackle with Gilliam at right.
Sowell, 27, said he likes Cable’s approach beyond the system.
“He’s really good at, like, instilling confidence in you and making sure you know what to do on every play,” Sowell said of his new line coach. “So far, I’ve loved him as a coach and I’m really excited to work with him.
“You get to run, be an athlete, run your feet. Just get to do the stuff that I feel like I can do.”
For Arizona, Sowell didn’t run to block. He stood up and held off his defender for a few seconds while relatively stationary quarterback Carson Palmer threw his passes on schedule with little to no scrambling or improvisation.
“Carson stays in the same spot. Most teams don’t honor the run with him,” Sowell said.
In other words, the opposite of Seattle’s Russell Wilson.
Last week in the preseason game against the Vikings, Sowell gave up one the four sacks of Wilson in the first half because he simply stopped blocking Minnesota end Everson Griffen, thinking Wilson had thrown the ball or should have. When Wilson held the ball and tried to scramble to look for more receiving options Griffen went past the standing-still, hands-down Sowell for an easy sack.
Cable said Sunday he needs to further teach all these new linemen how they must adjust and hold blocks longer for Wilson. But the Seahawks and coach Pete Carroll are emphasizing how Wilson needs to help the line by getting the ball out quickly, on the schedule the blockers expect. That’s the quick-throw formula that worked over the latter half of last season when Wilson became the franchise’s first QB to throw for 4,000 yards in a season.
“You’ve got to hold it just a little bit longer, because you know he can make plays with his feet,” Sowell said. “I’ll get used to that. ... I’m getting there.”
Sowell said his fellow Seahawks linemen have given him advice: “Hold on. Hold on for as long as you can. And hit somebody.”
“It’s, Where’s he going to be?” Sowell said of Wilson. “He’ll make plays that are both good and bad.”
Sowell said he could have signed with multiple other teams when he decided to take Seattle’s one-year deal for $1 million. That’s because he could see the Seahawks were not going to re-sign Russell Okung and the left-tackle job would be available. Okung signed in free agency with Denver in March and is now starting for the Broncos, to mixed, early reviews.
“I had an offer from Arizona and I was about to re-sign, but (the Seahawks) told me to wait until free agency opened up,” Sowell said.
“I thought it was a good fit. Seeing when Russ left I thought I could come in and take a job.”
For now, he has.
Webb has essentially Thursday’s preseason game to prove he should be the right tackle. If he proves he should, it becomes Sowell or Gilliam for the left-tackle job. If he proves he shouldn’t, it’s likely to be Sowell at left tackle and Gilliam at right to begin the regular season Sept. 11 against Miami.
The third preseason game is usually the final “dress rehearsal” for starters. They will likely play into the second half Thursday and then sit out most if not all the Sept. 1 preseason finale at Oakland.