The Seahawks are beginning their three-day rookie minicamp today at team headquarters in Renton.
Offensive line coach Tom Cable likes the blockers he will have there -- and beyond.
Cable talked Saturday after the team drafted Terry Poole from San Diego State and Mark Glowinski to play guard. It was an hour or two before Seattle selected Kristjan Sokoli with the intent to convert the defensive tackle from the University of Buffalo into a center beginning this weekend.
That's what Cable did a few years ago with seventh-round pick J.R. Sweezy. The college defensive end is now the Seahawks' starting right guard.
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Third-year man Alvin Bailey would be the starter at left guard replacing James Carpenter, Seattle's former first-round pick who signed in March with the New York Jets, if the season started tomorrow. Of course it does not, and coach Pete Carroll made it sound like Poole is going to get every chance to win that job between Friday's rookie minicamp start and the opener in September at St. Louis.
"We like the guys who we have," Cable said of his entire line now, even with two starters gone from last season.
The Seahawks value Bailey as a backup at tackle and at guard, and he may end up proving to be Seattle's swing guy on the line this season if Poole emerges as the coaches expect -- or else they would not have made him the first offensive lineman they drafted last weekend.
The athletic Sokoli impressed Cable last week in a private workous, and thanks to Cable the Seahawks were the only NFL team that considered him for offense. Now he becomes a candidate along with veteran incumbents Patrick Lewis and Lemuel Jeanpierre to replace traded Max Unger as the line's signal caller this coming season.
Cable says replacing Unger, the ultra-popular, two-time Pro Bowl veteran who enjoyed a strong rapport with quarterback Russell Wilson is going to be challenging "first, because he is a special man."
The three picks last weekend for the offensive line are Cable's favorite kind of guys, athletic, grinding dudes who can play multiple positions. Poole was a left tackle at San Diego State. Glowinski was a tackle for two years in junior college in Pennsylvania and the last two seasons for West Virginia. And now Albania-born Sokoli goes from defensive tackle, offensive tackle, punter and kicker in high school to trying to ram through an offensive line in college to anchoring one in the NFL.
Here's what the trainer of the Seahawks' most vital unit has to say about it four months before the games get real: (the comments on Poole and/or Glowinski as a possible center came before the team drafted Sokoli with that position in mind for him; coach Pete Carroll said after the Seahawks did that Sokoli will start out as a center with Poole at left guard and Glowinski at right guard behind Sweezy to begin offseason drills.):
(On Poole and Glowinski’s abilities to play all three O-line positions…) “That’s the reason we took them, because we have a little mix and matching to do. We like who’s here, and this is going to give us even more flexibility. Both of them will have some learning to do at this level, but that’s normal. I think the fact that they can play a number of spots is going to help us.”
(On whether either is an option at center…) “I think either one or both right now. We kind of have gone through this thing all along thinking that in mind, that if they came to us having been a tackle, where are they at at center, and if they’ve been a guard, where are they at center. So we’ve always kind of considered that along the way.”
(On their strengths and weaknesses…) “I think they’re both really tough kids. Both very athletic. The one kid, Glowinski, is a very strong-handed guy. Good length by both of them. I think the impressive thing about Terry is his ability to strike people and his quickness. A lot of the same characteristics that we are used to and that we like. I think Mark, probably the one thing that stands out is his ability to stay in front of people in pass protection as a one-on-one pass blocker. A lot of cool traits for both of them.”
(On how much he felt that offensive line was an area to address…) “We know we have some outstanding players here, so if you lose some you want to replace them and continue to get better and grow. So, that was really the focus all along. We like who we have.”
(On whether it is easier for Glowinski to make the transition to center, because he’s played more interior line…) “I don’t think it really matters. We’ve kind of always done this. Both of them are like taking a guy similar, I use J.R. obviously, maybe not as big a learning curve because these guys have been on offense. Both of them, in all of their workouts, as you go through this whole thing, both of them worked out at center at some point or another.
(On how important it is to have a versatile backup if Bailey becomes the left guard…) “I think that’s a really good point. The other guy that plays into that is Garry Gilliam and how he fits into that in terms of competing for the swing job. If Alvin can come through and do what you hope, you’re going to need to replace him in that versatility, so I think either one of these guys gives us the chance to do that.”
(On whether he goes into practice happy with Bailey and left guard and Lewis at center…) “We haven’t even gone that far yet. We have a lot of work to do yet.”
(On why the Seahawks like to draft college guards or tackles to play other positions…) “I think when you look at the history of good run players, they’re the 6’4”, 6’5” body. Once they start getting longer and taller than that, their rear end gets a little further from the ground, and hard in terms of leverage. Yet, you can find guys that can do it once in a while. I had a guy in Oakland, Robert Gallery, who we brought here, who could do it for a little bit. You can find them once in a while, but they’re rare. I think if you look at our group, regardless of where they play, they’re all athletes. I think that’s really the best way to look at them. We don’t have a bunch of big, heavy guys, and even the ones we have that have been bigger, we found ways to get them down to where they could be more productive athletically. “
(On whether he sees these guys as nasty…) “I don’t think we would take an offensive lineman that didn’t have that trait. We like to use the term ‘gritty’. These guys have an orneriness, and a grittiness to them. Both of them are finishers. I think the thing that jumps out to me about Mark is that he did a bunch of pulling and his ability to instinctively adjust on the move and finish. Terry, I think about any film you turn on, he’s ripping somebody pretty good. They’re good picks for us right there. They’re going to fit right in the room, and the dynamic of it, and our style of play.”
(On why the athleticism is so important…) “Every year, there’s always a chance defensively. We kind of went through that pattern of seeing a bunch of 3-4, if you look at college football, there’s a lot of that coming out, so you’re seeing more of the outside backer/rushers, a little more speed on the edge. Maybe not as big as we’ve been on the line of scrimmage, defensively. So, that means they’re bringing athleticism at us, and I think you have to stay the course, stay in front of that.”
(On whether these were the guys you wanted, even though 25 offensive lineman were selected in front of them…) “I have a list every year, of about 7 or 8 guys, and they’re in that list, so this worked out great. It really did. For us to get up this morning and have another guy sitting there, as well, that we really wanted, it was like, here we go, let’s see if we can make this work, and they did it beautifully.”
(On what tips the scales when you’re evaluating an offensive lineman to switch positions…) “I think that’s a cool question, because it’s our philosophy. We’re a staff that develops people. So, we don’t look at it that way. I think if you become cookie cutter, you become normal, and we’re obviously not normal in what we do and how we do things. I think that we’ve had some success being that, being who we are. Our whole objective is to find the best football player, and then develop them. Whether he was a left out, and now he’s playing right guard, or a d-lineman or whatever. It’s just worked well for us, and it’s something that we’re good at.”
(On how excited he is to get these two offensive lineman…) “I’m really excited. Moving forward, there’s always going to be change in this game, change on every team, and so the changes that we’ve had to deal with, we’ve certainly put people back in this program now to take a step even further. That’s an exciting thing for us.”
(On how he prefers to position versatile lineman…) “You say, I think I’ll start him here, and I’ll put this guy over there, but I know I want to cross train him and make sure I get him some tackle work or some right guard work, or whatever it is. A little bit of both, to be quite honest. Then, you start that process of them playing two spots, so that if we ever have the injury issue, we’ll be prepared.”
(On whether he can spot a tough, nasty guy right away…) “I think it’s important. I think our style of play that Coach has brought here, that is who we are. We don’t look to go back there and stand up and throw the ball a ton of times, we look to beat up on you and see if you’ll give in at some time. So, I think you have to take people who are comfortable doing that, in terms of the game. And, then you have to get to know them. You have to dig in on them, and you have to see their background, and see who they are, and maybe how they’ve been coached, what their beliefs are. All of those things, I think, are kind of ingredients to it.”
(On the loss of Max Unger…) “A special man, first of all. That’s where it always starts for me, and did well. At the same time, there are things that go on in this game, and you move on with it and so we do.”
(On his impression of Jimmy Graham as a blocker…) “He’s such a rare athlete when you see him on film, there’s no reason he won’t be a good blocker. The thing I’m fired up about, I’ve sat with him at breakfast a couple times, and he wants to. He’s really committed to wanting to learn how to block and be that. I think the ingredient of the athlete we have, and his desire to do it, he’s certainly come to the right place.”
(On whether Poole mentioned how closely he had followed Cable’s career…) “No. When we met, we brought him here, and we got a chance to talk about it then. He fits the style, like the J.Rs and the Britts and the Maxs and the Russ’s, they go after it. It’s really important to him to be a good player, and to be detailed about what he does. We just talked about the fact to accept your failures early, because there’s going to be a bunch of them, and that’s OK. It’s OK to fail, because that’s how you grow and learn. He’s wired right, he understood that.”
(On the importance of the visits to Seattle…) “I don’t know if they’re a big determining factor. You bring guys in because you want to know something specific, that maybe you haven’t felt or seen, so you want to dig in on them. I think it was more about confirmation with both of these g