Seattle's biggest question remains on the offensive line
RENTON, Wash. (AP) The way general manager John Schneider and coach Pete Carroll have structured the Seattle Seahawks roster and how salaries are spread around created one position group in particular that stands as the biggest question surrounding one of the favorites in the NFC.
Seattle's offensive line is the biggest unknown on a team with most of its questions answered less than a week into training camp.
There remain a few injury questions and some possible changes to the depth chart, but no position appears to be more of a pressing concern than the unproven nature of what could be Seattle's starting offensive line.
''The (offensive) line, there will always be a focus for us there,'' Carroll said.
For the first week of training camp, the Seahawks have gone with the same five linemen taking the first snap with the starting offense during team drills.
If Seattle sticks with those five for the regular-season opener on Sept. 11 against Miami, it will go into the regular season with a unit playing in completely different positions than a season ago.
Garry Gilliam was Seattle's starting right tackle last year, but is being flipped to the left and will be responsible for protecting Russell Wilson's blindside. J'Marcus Webb is on his fourth team in five seasons and is being slated as Seattle's right tackle.
Justin Britt is on his third position in three seasons being moved to center, while second-year Mark Glowinski and rookie Germain Ifedi are the projected starting guards.
It's a unit that Seattle believes has potential to be really good. But they have no experience playing together to back up the Seahawks optimism that they can be a successful offense behind such an unproven unit.
''I know coach (Tom Cable) will put the best five out there and I just want to be one of them,'' Britt said.
The questions about the offensive line followed Seattle for most of last season. It started with a training camp shuffle where Britt was moved from right tackle to left guard and converted defensive lineman Drew Nowak was placed at center.
That experiment lasted about half the season and often was the crux behind Seattle's offensive struggles early in the season. By midseason, Nowak was out at center, replaced by Patrick Lewis, and the Seahawks offense took off.
The offseason departures of guard J.R. Sweezy and tackle Russell Okung in free agency prompted the next waves of change. But the moves failed to bring comfort to fans who would like to see a more experienced group responsible for protecting Wilson, who was sacked a career-high 45 times last season.
As Schneider pointed out just before the start of training camp, it's impossible to pay top dollar at every position in a salary cap system. And offensive line is where the Seahawks have sacrificed.
''The issue then is once you're able to reward what you view as the best football players on your team, then how do you get people to compete at different positions,'' Schneider said.
''For us, it just happens to be exactly what you're talking about. Now, we like the group. It just so happens it's younger guys that people don't necessarily know.''
Cable said the real assessment of the continuity of the projected starters shouldn't be made until after the first couple of preseason games. The Seahawks would like to avoid making the major changes they did last year during training camp.
''I think the fairness of that question is after you've played a couple of preseason games do they look like they are on the same page, particularly communication wise,'' Cable said. ''Then you'll find the answer to that.''
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