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Seahawks start out seeing if Jahri Evans can be a backup

Jahri Evans, who has played on the right side his entire career, is trying out the left side with the Seahawks. (AP)

RENTON – Jahri Evans started out at left guard for the Seattle Seahawks.

Wait. That’s not quite right. Evans hasn’t been assigned a starting position nor will he be presumed to fill one, and the fact that he’ll initially practice at left guard is an important sign that Seattle’s first question isn’t deciding where he’ll start, but whether he can be a backup on game day.

“We’re going to make sure that we see him at left guard and develop that so we see what kind of flexibility we have,” coach Pete Carroll said.

There’s not much doubt about Evans’ chops at right guard. That’s the position he played the past 10 years in New Orleans and where he was selected for six Pro Bowls. And once Evans was signed on Saturday, the assumption of many was that Evans would step in at right guard with rookie Germain Ifedi moving over to right tackle and bumping J’Marcus Webb to the bench.

You know what happens when you assume, though. And when Evans took the field on Saturday wearing No. 62, he played left guard through the early portion of Sunday’s practice before watching the mock game.

The fact that Evans began working at that spot is proof Carroll can be taken at his word when he says Evans is competing for playing time, because the only reason Seattle would look at Evans at left tackle is to determine if he’d be capable of playing that position in a pinch. In other words, Seattle’s first evaluation of Evans is whether he could be a game-day backup, because with only seven or eight offensive linemen active for a game, the backup guard must be capable of playing on both sides.

That’s a significantly different scenario than the Seahawks deciding one week into training camp that they needed another starting-caliber lineman given what they’d seen the first seven days.

“We’ll not rush to this one at all,” Carroll said. “He’s got to get in our kind of shape and get ready. He has been sitting at home. We go at a pretty good clip here. We’ll see how it works out.”

And yes, Evans will got some opportunities on the right side, where he’s played the past 10 years.

“I don’t think it would be fair to just leave him at left guard the whole time,” Carroll said, “with all the background he has had playing on the other side. So we’ll look at him at both. We’re going to start him on the left side just to get that going and see what that looks like.”

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