The Seattle Seahawks are still getting into their groove when it comes to training camp, with the team just starting to wear pads and ease into hitting. After a long offseason in which there were no formal, on-site activities, and with almost another four weeks until the regular season opener against the Atlanta Falcons, there is no rush. That said, during his media time Monday, head coach Pete Carroll shared several updates on where things stand with the offensive line.
Starting in the middle of the line, here’s what he had to see about the center spot.
Carroll: Pocic, Finney and Fuller will all rotate in at center during camp #Seahawks— Aaron Levine (@AaronQ13Fox) August 17, 2020
Thus, while B.J. Finney is the presumed starter because of the contract he was given in free agency, those fans who have been calling for Ethan Pocic to be given a shot should be pleased with this. In addition, when it comes to questions regarding Pocic and whether he’s also in consideration at the guard spots, according to Carroll he is not, at least for now.
Carroll praising Ethan Pocic and says he will be used solely at center in camp right now.— Bob Condotta (@bcondotta) August 17, 2020
The third name in the bunch, Kyle Fuller, is a name Seahawks fans are likely not familiar with, but is someone who could surprise some fans if given the shot. He’s not likely to play at a Pro Bowl level, but as a seventh round pick of the Houston Texans in 2017, he started two games as a rookie and has been on either a 53-man roster or practice squad since then. In short, he’s been good enough to stick around, but not quite good enough to break into the starting lineup. That means that with three seasons of practice under his belt and in his fourth training camp, he’s at the point where he has amassed enough practice reps that his play is likely to be at the level above that of a raw rookie.
So, with that in mind, here is a clip of him going head to head against third year defensive lineman Rasheem Green during practice Monday.
Kyle Fuller vs Rasheem Green at 3 tech pic.twitter.com/JGZxZ5xdl5— hawkschronicle (@hawkschronicle) August 17, 2020
In any case, knowing that Pocic is working exclusively at center for the time being and is not in the competition at guard, here’s a look at what Carroll shared regarding the guard spots. Specifically, starting with the right side, Pete had a lot to say about rookie Damien Lewis, about whom he is obviously very excited.
Pete Carroll on Damien Lewis:— Matty F. Brown (@mattyfbrown) August 17, 2020
"He’s a special football player. He’s got a tremendous body for the position, got a great body mass load, and he’s really, really powerful."
Pete Carroll on Damien Lewis 2:— Matty F. Brown (@mattyfbrown) August 17, 2020
"You can see him in positions already, twerking and all. It shows he can return to balance really well, which is a real good trait for offensive linemen." https://t.co/oEWFalekDe
Pete Carroll on Damien Lewis 3:— Matty F. Brown (@mattyfbrown) August 17, 2020
"He’s really smart, he’s studied really hard. The guy’s already can sense that you can count on him, to know what’s going on. So, he’s off to a really good start." https://t.co/HVrPP9adcd
Pete Carroll on Damien Lewis 4:— Matty F. Brown (@mattyfbrown) August 17, 2020
"He moves well on the second level and he’s done a nice job already just showing us that he can pull and get on the edge. He’s done nothing but good stuff so far." https://t.co/HQaeGd8LoL
Pete Carroll on Damien Lewis 5:— Matty F. Brown (@mattyfbrown) August 17, 2020
"I had a good sit down with him a couple of days back and just had a chance to go back about expectations, and what he’s counting on, and what he’s trying to do, and how he’s going about it. I was really impressed how squared away he is.” https://t.co/eOaVkhqgN6
So, Carroll’s obviously excited about the rookie, but what do things look like on the left side?
Carroll: Competition is on but Iupati's taking all the first snaps but he has some competition with Haynes and Simmons #Seahawks— Aaron Levine (@AaronQ13Fox) August 17, 2020
Mike Iupati played well as he managed to stay on the field for the majority of 2019, so him coming into 2020 as the starter is not a surprise. That said, competition from 2019 fourth round pick Phil Haynes and Jordan Simmons is good to see. Simmons flashed when given a shot to start three games in place of an injured D.J. Fluker in 2018, but his career has be slowed by injuries in both college and the NFL. If Simmons is able to stay healthy, he could be an extremely valuable contributor to the Hawks in the coming years, but as fans have come to know, that’s been a huge “if” for Simmons going all the way back to his college days.
The interesting question, of course, is who is projected as the backup on the right side behind Lewis. With Simmons and Haynes both in competition to potentially start on the left side, it would seem logical that either of them, both of whom have experience playing on the right side, would slide into the backup role on the right side.
However, there’s one name fans have asked about competing at guard, and that’s Jamarco Jones, who was rotating in with Haynes missing practice Monday due to injury.
Jamarco Jones getting a lot of work at left guard today with Phil Haynes out.— Bob Condotta (@bcondotta) August 17, 2020
Questions have surrounded Jones’ ability to perform at tackle in the NFL after his Week 16 performance against Chandler Jones of the Arizona Cardinals, which saw Jones tie a career high with four sacks and set a career high of six quarterback hits. In spite of concerns regarding his performance at tackle, his inclusion in the competition at guard is less of a concern given the fact that on the interior of the offensive line he’s less susceptible to speed rushers because the amount of ground needed to be covered is limited by the center and tackle. However, on the subject of struggling against speedier pass rushers, here’s what Bruce Irvin did to Jamarco on a pair of reps when they faced off in camp Monday.
Jamarco Jones vs Bruce Irvin at LEO pic.twitter.com/mFutHuNT3u— hawkschronicle (@hawkschronicle) August 17, 2020
That moves the discussion to the tackle position, where Duane Brown is the unquestioned starter at left tackle. Further, based on what Carroll had to say about free agent acquisition Brandon Shell, it doesn’t appear there is much question who the starter at right tackle is set to be.
"And physical enough to be dominant. Gonna be hard for anyone to move out of there. He's on his game."— Aaron Levine (@AaronQ13Fox) August 17, 2020
That leaves Jones, Chad Wheeler, Tommy Champion and Cedric Ogbuehi battling for the backup tackle jobs. Carroll offered this insight on Ogbuehi during his press conference.
Cedric Ogbuehi drawing praise from Carroll, saying it's hard to find players with the physicality to play left tackle in the NFL. Wishes they could have preseason games to further evaluate him, but he's been getting reps with Duane Brown receiving a few rest days.— Corbin Smith (@CorbinSmithNFL) August 17, 2020
Ogbuehi is not just working at left tackle, however, as both he and Jones have been working at both tackle spots so far.
Jamarco Jones and Cedric Ogbuehi each continue to work at both tackle spots.— Joe Fann (@Joe_Fann) August 17, 2020
Wheeler is a player who offensive line coach Mike Solari also coached for the New York Giants in 2017, and who started five games as an undrafted rookie before starting 14 games for the G Men in 2018. He spent much of last season on the Seattle practice squad before a late season promotion to the active roster. His athletic profile is very similar to that of Jones, but Wheeler weighs in about 25 pounds heavier. That said, he’s also had problems with speedier pass rushers in the past, and here is a look at how he fared on a pair of reps against Shaquem Griffin, who might be the fastest pass rusher in the league.
A nice speed rush from Shaquem Griffin in one-on-ones. The Seahawks started using him as a pass rusher late last season. Griffin may have to make his mark there this month to make the team given how deep the Seahawks are at linebacker. pic.twitter.com/8wSstVmKsk— Brady Henderson (@BradyHenderson) August 17, 2020
That’s where things stand across the Seahawks offensive line, though with nearly a month more of practice before Week 1, things could certainly change due to injury or other factors.