Dave Boling

Dave Boling: New Hawks offensive line starting with baby steps

Seattle Seahawks offensive linemen Patrick Lewis (65), Will Pericak (75) and Justin Britt run through drills Thursday in Renton. Expect it will take a while before the line’s chemistry comes around.
Seattle Seahawks offensive linemen Patrick Lewis (65), Will Pericak (75) and Justin Britt run through drills Thursday in Renton. Expect it will take a while before the line’s chemistry comes around. The Associated Press

Do me a favor, Seahawks fans. When you read about the status of your new offensive line, keep reminding yourself one thing: It’s only May.

As it stood at Thursday’s organized training activity, only one of the guys up front was a starter last year (Justin Britt) and he is being tried at a new position.

So it’s basically a complete makeover.

The positive interpretation is that they have more really big, athletic guys than has been the case, which could translate to better competition, and ultimately, quality depth.

But raw? Oh my.

It’s only May. It’s only May.

Coach Pete Carroll wrapped up last season with the admission that the offensive line took longer to jell into an effective unit than he expected. And that many of the problems arose at times when they simply didn’t get their helmets on the right defenders.

And that was with a couple veteran starters in place.

Now?

“Communication is going to be really important and we’re just starting to learn how to talk and we’re still a long ways away there,” Carroll said of the offensive line after Thursday’s practice.

With this kind of turnover, no matter how athletic the prospects are, it’s going to be a process of learning through shared experience.

Before you can smash holes in defensive fronts, the baby steps start with learning how to talk, to understand the assignments, and to have a feel for working in concert with the guys next to you.

I would argue that you could sign five veteran Pro Bowl players off different teams and bring them in, but it still would take a good while before they learned how to function effectively together.

Such strides are more challenging when, like Thursday, the players expected to get the first shot at starting at the tackle spots were out with injuries.

Garry Gilliam, moving over to left tackle from right tackle, will miss a couple weeks after having a knee cyst removed. And right tackle J’Marcus Webb, a free agent most recently with Oakland, has another 10 days before he’s expected back from a calf injury.

So when the first unit lined up in front of Russell Wilson in team sessions Thursday, from left to right, the starters were Bradley Sowell, Mark Glowinski, Britt, Germain Ifedi and Terry Poole.

Glowinski played very well in brief action as a rookie, and he seems ready for the chance to claim that position as his own.

Britt continues to be an experiment, a second-round pick who hasn’t claimed a starting role, going from right tackle to left guard and now to center. It’s such a tough job, snapping the ball, coordinating the blocking, and then handling those quick, low nose tackles.

The offense can get bad in a hurry if the center can’t snap the ball or earn stalemates against somebody like the Rams’ Aaron Donald.

Ifedi was this year’s first-round pick, and he’s huge. They didn’t wear pads or have contact Thursday, but Ifedi already showed something important. A right tackle from a spread offense in college, he nonetheless looked immediately at ease in a three-point stance at guard.

These experiments, Carroll said, are “off to a good start.”

Most affected by the line juggling will be quarterback Russell Wilson, who was mercilessly harassed early last season before the line ripened.

Wilson touted the two free-agent pickups, Webb and Sowell as strong additions, and said that Ifedi “looks really talented, and he’s huge, as big as he can get.”

Melding a new unit in front of him, Wilson said, is going to be “a big opportunity for us and we’re looking forward to it.”

OK, Russell.

Maybe calling the total reconstruction of the Seahawks offensive line an “opportunity” is the best way to think of it at this point. No reason to start worrying yet.

It’s only May.

  Comments