Bump: How a Seahawks rookie benefits from O-line’s shuffling

Oct 13, 2023, 4:56 PM

Seattle Seahawks Olu Oluwatimi...

Olu Oluwatimi of the Seattle Seahawks looks on during a game at Lumen Field on Sept. 10, 2023. (Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

(Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

When you take a close look at the Seattle Seahawks’ 3-1 start to the 2023 season, one thing should jump out as a surprise: the fact that they’ve pulled it off without a healthy offensive line.

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Seattle has been without its starting tackles, Charles Cross and Abraham Lucas, since both were injured in Week 1. Starting guards Phil Haynes and Damien Lewis have also battled injuries, with neither able to finish the Seahawks’ Week 4 win over the New York Giants.

Luckily for Seattle, it added a starting center this offseason in Evan Brown who has experience playing guard, so he was able to shift over during the Giants game with rookie Olu Oluwatimi taking over at center.

While the injuries to the Seahawks’ O-line aren’t ideal, Seattle Sports’ Michael Bumpus said the fact that there has been so much shuffling is actually a benefit for one player: Oluwatimi.

After playing six snaps in Week 1, Oluwatimi didn’t see any action on the field in the next two games. But in Week 4, Oluwatimi was called upon to play 38 snaps after the injuries to the guards.

“Him getting in the game, hearing the calls, being in those situations is going to help him in the future,” said Bumpus, a former NFL wide receiver who now serves as a Seahawks Radio Network analyst and co-hosts Seattle Sports’ Bump and Stacy.

While Brown was signed away from the Detroit Lions as a free agent to be Seattle’s center this year, Oluwatimi was selected in the fifth round out of Michigan State to potentially be the Seahawks’ center of the future.

“That center spot – we’ve seen a lot of centers over the last four, five, six years,” Bumpus explained. “You bring over Evan Brown, you’re saying, ‘Look, we drafted this young guy, we don’t know what he’s gonna do. Let’s bring in Evan Brown, he’s been there, he’s done that, he’s started at that spot, let’s see what he does.'”

The addition of Brown, plus his versatility amid the rash of injuries, has actually allowed the Seahawks the chance to ease in Oluwatimi rather than asking him to sink or swim at the very start of his NFL career.

“I hope the O-line gets healthy. I prefer to have the guys that (Seahawks offensive line coach) Andy Dickerson wants out there, but this is part of the development. Olu was brought here to be the guy eventually,” Bumpus said. “Now, it’s not happening at the urgency that I think a lot of people wanted to see, but you gotta trust Andy Dickerson, (offensive coordinator) Shane Waldron and what they’re doing. They’re saying, ‘Look, let the young man develop.’ I’m all about letting these young men develop. Don’t push them, don’t force him into that situation if they’re not ready to go.”

Bumpus added why he thinks the amount of playing time Oluwatimi received against the Giants is great for a rookie lineman.

“He got 38 snaps, (and he left) the ballgame feeling healthy, not banged up, not bruised up. … With those 38 snaps, he’s starting to get his body into it, his mental into it, he’s starting to feel the pace of the game. He’s making the calls, he’s communicating with (quarterback Geno Smith). So that was a a nice step in the right direction when it comes to Olu. Unfortunately it happened because guys are hurt, but when guys are hurt, the ‘twos’ get opportunities. Olu’s gonna be the guy eventually here, so I think he has benefited the most with all these changes.”

Oluwatimi could have another shot at playing this week as it’s unclear if either Lewis or Haynes will play this week in Cincinnati.

Michael Bumpus answers four football questions at 11:15 a.m. daily in Four-Down Territory during Seattle Sports’ Bump and Stacy. Listen to the full edition from Tuesday in the podcast at this link or in the audio player near the top of this post.

More on the Seattle Seahawks

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Bump: How a Seahawks rookie benefits from O-line’s shuffling