Bradley Sowell out, Garry Gilliam back in as Seahawks’ right tackle
Dec 20, 2016, 6:28 PM | Updated: 8:27 pm
RENTON – Garry Gilliam is back in as the Seahawks’ starting right tackle, reclaiming the job he held for more than a season and a half before being benched last month in favor of Bradley Sowell. Offensive line coach Tom Cable announced the move Tuesday, and the way he described it didn’t leave the impression that it’s necessarily a permanent one. At the very least, Gilliam will start Saturday against Arizona.
“We’re going to go back, give Garry the opportunity, but we’re still competing for it,” Cable said. “Really what we’re looking for is what we’ve always said about positions, is consistency. There are certain areas to break that down and they know what those things are. That’s what we’re trying to get, more consistency.”
Cable used the same word – consistency – when asked what he hasn’t seen from Sowell, who started the last three games and played most of a fourth after replacing Gilliam. He said that has nothing to do with Sowell being more familiar at left tackle than he is on the right side.
“I think just being consistent in our system,” Cable said. “We kind of have gotten away of some things that we have done in our past, so working on newness and those sort of things. We just want him to be rock solid throughout, from the beginning of the game to the end without letting up.”
The move back to Gilliam is the latest development in what’s been an eventful year for him. He was supposed to be Seattle’s left tackle this season but missed time over the spring and summer with a knee injury. That precipitated his move back to right tackle, where he started every game last year. Gilliam started the first 11 games of this season before but was pulled three snaps into Seattle’s loss at Tampa Bay.
Sowell replaced him for the remainder of that game and started the next three. Gilliam, meanwhile, was a healthy scratch for the first two games after losing his starting job. He was active Thursday night and finished out Seattle’s win over Los Angeles, taking over at right tackle for the final 15 offensive snaps in what Pete Carroll said was a coach’s decision.
“We’ll find out,” Cable said when asked what Gilliam has learned through losing his starting job. “He went in there the other night and was fine, so we’ll find out on Saturday. I like his approach to this coming back to it, so we’ll go forward.”
Speaking to 710Sports.com after Thursday night’s game, Gilliam said “there’s more than meets the eye” with regards to the team replacing him with Sowell last month. He acknowledged the role his play had in that decision.
“But like Coach Carroll and Coach Cable said, I left an opportunity for another person to get into my spot and that’s all it was,” he said. “It’s tough seeing your brothers out there being able to play and you can’t. It’s kind of like when you’re growing up and you’re grounded, you look out the window and you see all your friends out there playing and you can’t. It’s like, ‘Dad, can I go out and play?’ ‘Nope.’ So kind of like that. But I just wait for my opportunity, prepare like I’m the starter as always and when I’m called upon, go out there and perform as they expect. We move on from there.”
The move back to Gilliam marks Seattle’s latest change at offensive tackle, a position that has been in flux since the offseason. The team’s plan initially was to move Gilliam to the left side, where Seattle had an opening with Russell Okung’s departure. J’Marcus Webb signed for starter money in free agency, but he too was slowed by injuries over the offseason and couldn’t hold onto his job on the right side. Sowell started the first six games at left tackle before injuring his knee, and instead of reclaiming that job once he returned, Seattle stuck with undrafted rookie George Fant.
And now the Seahawks are again tinkering at right tackle, this time with two games left in the regular season. Cable was asked if he’s surprised that the position is still unsettled this late in the game.
“I don’t know about that,” he said. “I don’t like it; that’s what it is. You’d like to be more settled than that, but unfortunately it’s not working out that way for us. What it is working out is we’re getting a bunch of guys playing and involved and I think that bodes well moving forward.”