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Seahawks training camp position preview: Offensive line

Duane Brown has helped transform the Seahawks O-line since coming from Houston in 2017. (AP)

The Seahawks kick off training camp on July 25 and there’s plenty to sort out in the weeks leading up to the August 31 roster cutdown deadline. Today’s position preview focuses on the offensive line, which will look to build on one its strongest season in years.

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Key contributors

Four of five starters will return in 2019, including (from left to right) Duane Brown, Justin Britt, D.J. Fluker and Germain Ifedi.

Left tackle Duane Brown enters 2019 as the Seahawks’ top-rated offensive lineman by Pro Football Focus, earning an overall grade of 81.5 in 1,067 snaps. According to the analytics site, Brown has allowed only five sacks and six hits since he became a Seahawk in October 2017.

Right guard D.J. Fluker joined former Giants offensive line coach Mike Solari in Seattle in 2018 and both were a boon for the team’s run-first offense. The Seahawks re-signed Fluker after a career year and added another student of Solari’s – ex-49ers left guard Mike Iupati – for 2019.

What’s changed from last year?

Mike Iupati, Demetrius Knox, Phil Haynes, and Marcus Martin are new additions in 2019.

Iupati, 32, was signed in free agency following the departure of J.R. Sweezy and is the presumed starter at left guard. The 2010 first-round pick has played for both the 49ers and the Arizona Cardinals, and certainly brings a playing style favored by head coach Pete Carroll. The biggest question surrounding Iupati isn’t whether or not he’ll fit in with Seattle’s offense, but rather he can stay healthy enough to play the majority of the season – he ended both his 2017 and 2018 seasons on the injured reserve list.

Martin, 25, was one of a trio of free agents signed by Seattle in May (a list that also included fullback Nick Bellore and cornerback Jamar Taylor).

Also joining the fold are rookies Knox, 22, and Haynes, 23. The former is an undrafted player out of Ohio State and one of three players who could still be sitting out at the start of training camp due to injury. The latter is a fourth-round pick out of Wake Forest.

Breakout candidate

Duane Brown told reporters he’s expecting another step forward for the unit, but outside of the regular starting five one player in particular has a chance to make an impact.

“Phil Haynes is someone that definitely has been a pleasant surprise,” Brown said during OTAs. “He’s a big, strong guy and he’s catching on pretty quickly. He has a great demeanor. A lot of times this kind of atmosphere can be overwhelming — being given so much information, the speed right now, you’re not used to practicing without pads on so fast, and everything’s happening so quickly. But he’s handling everything well.”

Haynes got a chance to get first-team reps during offseason training when Iupati and Fluker missed time due to injury.

Top storyline

Can this group stay healthy enough to take another step forward? One of the most punishing positions in football, the ability to play a full season is of the utmost importance for any offensive lineman. This will be key for Fluker and Iupati; both are an essential part of a run-first attack, and both missed time last year due to injury.

If they can stay consistent up front, the group has a chance to put together one of its best performances yet. They finished 17th overall in pass-blocking efficiency in 2018. It’s not a record-breaking season, but it’s a notable improvement from years prior.

Complete list of players

C Justin Britt (28, 6-6/315)
C Joey Hunt (25, 6-2/299)
C/G Ethan Pocic (23, 6-6/320)
G Phil Haynes (23, 6-4/322)
G Mike Iupati (32, 6-5/331)
G Demetrius Knox (22, 6-4/314)
G Marcus Martin (25, 6-3/330)
G Jordan Roos (26, 6-3/302)
G Jordan Simmons (25, 6-4/339)
G D.J. Fluker (28, 6-5/342)
T Germain Ifedi (25, 6-5/325)
T Duane Brown (33, 6-4/315)
T George Fant (26, 6-5/322)
T Jamarco Jones (23, 6-4/293)
T Elijah Nkansah (24, 6-5/315)

More position previews

Defensive line