Entering the first preseason game, the Seahawks’ offensive line is anything but set for the regular season.
By coach’s—if not by popular—demand, Germain Ifedi has new competition for his job.
Rookie fifth-round draft choice Jamarco Jones replaced Ifedi as the starting right tackle Tuesday during a 2-minute offense scrimmage. The move came one drive after Ifedi jumped early for a false start. It came two practices after coach Pete Carroll benched Ifedi from the team’s annual mock game. Carroll then said he was “real disappointed” in Ifedi, the NFL’s most-penalized player last season, committing more penalties.
Monday, new line coach Mike Solari had Jones working as a backup right tackle for the first time, for a few snaps. Jones had spent the first eight practices of camp and all offseason workouts dating to May as the backup left tackle behind Duane Brown.
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The 6-foot-4, 293-pound Jones was Ohio State’s left tackle the last two seasons, including last year when he was an All-Big Ten selection.
Ifedi, Seattle’s top draft choice in 2016, was the second-team right tackle as the 2-minute scrimmage continued Tuesday.
Saturday, against second-team lineman, Ifedi committed a false start then a holding foul. That’s when Carroll removed Ifedi from the starting line and replaced him in that mock game with Isaiah Battle.
“He’s got to put big spaces between those mistakes,” Carroll said of Ifedi following the 10th practice of training camp, two days before the preseason opener against Indianapolis. “It was a problem last year. There’s no question about it.
“I don’t mind making it noted to him. However we need to do it, we’ve got to get this done. He’s capable of being a terrific player, and part of it is he’s got to play really sharp and get rid of that stuff.”
Jones is now in Ifedi’s spot, at least part of the time, to see if that can accelerate Ifedi’s improvement.
“We’ve been starting to work him. We are looking for guys that can flip, and play both sides,” Carroll said of Jones.
Dual-side tackles and guards are the guys the Seahawks tend to keep as the seventh and eighth offensive linemen on the 53-man roster for the start of the regular season. That’s in four weeks.
“Sometimes guys get inhibited when they go to the other side. We just have to see how that is,” with Jones, Carroll said. “He’s been a natural left-side guy, a lot, so...
“But he has shown a real good savvy about the game. He’s precocious, you know. He’s learning some stuff. And so we are thinking that maybe it will come easy to him to play on the right side, as well. We’ll find out. ...
“Jamarco has been a real surprise that he’s been able to pick up stuff so soon. Mike has been real impressed with him. So we’ll find out, you know. We’ll finally get to play ball.”
There is another potential candidate to compete for Ifedi’s job at right tackle. George Fant is just now returning to fuller practicing while wearing a brace over the right knee he had reconstructed 12 months ago. He played 10 games at left tackle as an undrafted rookie college basketball player in 2016 and was going to be the Seahawks’ starter at left tackle for last season until his major knee injury in a preseason game.
Carroll said Fant is “doing quite well.” The Seahawks so far are keeping Fant as the backup to Brown at left tackle, for familiarity in his return.
I asked Carroll if what he said this offseason, trying Fant at right tackle, remains in the team’s plans.
“It’s possible. We’re just trying to get him going,” Carroll said. “He’s not at the full load of plays in practice, although I think we will get a chance to play him in the game a little bit. It will be good to get him out there.
“But that’s down the road a little bit for him. ... He’s going to be full go here, ready for the season. We don’t even want to try to evaluate him for a couple more weeks.
“That’s why we are not moving him around right now...
“We were real impressed with him before. We still are.”
Asked to assess his line in general, Carroll went directly to his new starting right guard the Seahawks signed this spring to a one-year contract.
“I’ve been really, really impressed with D.J. Fluker,” Carroll said. “He’s really been kind of what we’d hoped he would be. He’s such a big man, a giant of a guy. He’s 355 or something. You can’t move him. ...He’s been very aggressive coming off the ball.”