With J’Marcus Webb out, Seahawks shuffle O-line for preseason opener
Aug 12, 2016, 12:02 PM | Updated: 1:23 pm
RENTON – The Seahawks’ new-look offensive line will have an even newer look for Saturday’s preseason opener. And maybe for longer.
Coach Pete Carroll said Friday that J’Marcus Webb won’t play against Kansas City due to a knee injury. Garry Gilliam will switch sides and play right tackle in Webb’s absence with Bradley Sowell taking over at left tackle.
Webb was hurt in Wednesday’s practice and hasn’t participated the last two days. Carroll said that while his injury doesn’t appear to be too significant, he’s not sure if Webb will be back by next week.
“I don’t know that,” he said. “I would think so. I would think so. But we turn around pretty quick next week (with another preseason game Thursday), so we’ll have to see. It’ll really be important how he is Monday, Tuesday, and how he’s doing.”
Which means Sowell on the left side and Gilliam on the right side could be Seattle’s pairing at tackle for the first two preseason games, if not longer.
The Seahawks moved Gilliam over to the right side and inserted Sowell at left tackle once Webb went down on Wednesday. Their other option would have been to have Sowell play right tackle and keep Gilliam on the left side, which would have made sense given that’s where Gilliam has been preparing all offseason to play. But instead of only adjusting their offensive line at one position in Webb’s absence, the Seahawks are changing both tackle spots.
It’s an interesting decision, one that raises a question as to whether the Seahawks may be re-thinking the configuration along an offensive line that was projected to have new starters at all five spots. That includes Gilliam, who started at right tackle last year but was moved to the left side when Seattle lost Russell Okung in free agency.
Webb has been the presumed starter at right tackle since the Seahawks signed him in free agency, making him their highest-paid offensive lineman with a two-year, $5.75 million deal. But he was sidelined for much of the offseason program due to a calf injury, and offensive-line coach Tom Cable said last week that all the work Webb missed was evident. Carroll said recently that Webb is behind in adapting to Seattle’s rushing scheme.
Gilliam missed a significant amount of time himself as he recovered from having a cyst removed in his knee. Sowell, another free-agent pickup, played with the first team at left tackle in Gilliam’s absence and has been rotating there even with Gilliam back.
It wouldn’t be unlike the Seahawks to shuffle their offseason line this far into training camp. Recall that they did so after the first preseason game last year. Carroll, for what it’s worth, indicated that the decision at tackle is about Webb’s injury when asked about Gilliam’s progress and where Seattle wants to see him play.
“Garry’s doing fine,” Carroll said. “We were a little bit slow bringing him on just to make sure he was right. He’s doing well. He’s played a considerable amount on the left side. With J’Marcus going out, we’re going to start with Sowell at the left side and Garry at the right side, see how they do and then next week we’ll revisit where we are.”
• In addition to tight end Jimmy Graham (knee) and running back Thomas Rawls (ankle) – who just returned to practice this week – Carroll said several other players won’t play Saturday: strong safety Kam Chancellor (groin); defensive tackles Jordan Hill (groin) and Sealver Siliga (calf); wide receivers Kasen Williams, Kevin Smith and Deshon Foxx (hamstrings); and running backs C.J. Prosise and Zac Brooks (hamstrings). Graham won’t travel with the team to Kansas City.
• Carroll confirmed that veteran guard Jahri Evans will play, saying he’s picked up enough of the playbook in his first week. Carroll said Evans has lost a few pounds in the last few days, a reference to how he was at home all offseason before signing with the Seahawks last weekend.