Gregg Bell of the Associated Press takes a look at the Seattle Seahawks current situation at left tackle. Pro Bowler Walter Jones still is rehabilitating from microfracture knee surgery, but the team expects him to be ready for training camp.
But what if Jones is not ready by training camp?
Bell takes a peak at the alternative if Jones is unable to return. Sean Locklear has been playing left tackle during the minicamps and Ray Willis has filled in for Locklear at right tackle. Here's an excerpt.
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For now, Jones wears sneakers while doing physical therapy. Locklear and Willis are the ones wearing spikes on the field, on a starting offensive line that is learning the new terminology and zone run-blocking schemes of first-year offensive coordinator Greg Knapp.
Locklear was a third-round draft choice in 2004 out of North Carolina State who has been inconsistent at right tackle. He said the new schemes are in some ways easier than the man-on-man blocking of Holmgren's old offense. Locklear estimated Knapp's schemes provide the tackles help from teammates on 95 percent of the blocking assignments.
Knapp thinks Locklear is ready to play left tackle.
"He has shown me that he can play consistently there," Knapp said. "Is it as good as Walter Jones? No. That's hard to match. But he has shown the versatility and the athleticism that he can play a strong left tackle."
Ruskell thought enough of Locklear to sign him to a new deal just before free agency began last year. That deal through 2012, and the two-year contract Seattle gave Willis, hint the Seahawks expect just one more season from Jones.
Locklear's base salary is scheduled to spike from $1 million to a left tackle-like $4.85 million in 2010, closer to the $6.2 million Jones is to earn his year. Willis is also getting $1 million this year, which is scheduled to double to starter money in 2010.
Not that Locklear is itching to replace Jones.
"I'm hoping he's going to play a couple more years," Locklear said.
And listen to Willis talk about the Walter Jones situation here.
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