The Seahawks’ latest move in the wake of starting left tackle George Fant’s major knee injury: trading for a potential fill-in.
Seattle traded a fifth-round choice in the 2018 draft for former Philadelphia starter Matt Tobin, plus a seventh-round pick from the Eagles.
It’s Seattle’s second move in two days to add options at left tackle. On Sunday the team agreed on a contract with free agent Tyrus Thompson. Thompson practiced Monday at tackle – for his fifth team in two years, without having played in an NFL game yet.
“We don’t know anything about him yet,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said of Thompson.
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So you rightly conclude he isn’t a prime option at this point.
Tobin started 13 games in 2015 for Philadelphia at right guard. But the Seahawks listed him as a tackle in announcing Monday’s trade. He started at right tackle for the Eagles last week in a preseason game against Buffalo. When Tobin, 27, started the final 22 games of his college career at Iowa, it was at both left tackle and left guard.
In other words, he’s a Tom Cable lineman in that he’s able to play more than one position and one side.
Twenty of Tobin’s 21 starts in the NFL have been at guard, according to profootballreference.com. The other one was last season as an extra, blocking tight end in a specialty formation to begin an Eagles game.
So what’s all this mean for the Seahawks’ plans to replace Fant?
“It gives us a challenge,” Carroll acknowledged.
The coach said following Monday’s practice the team wants to keep Luke Joeckel at left guard, though it knows he has started in the NFL for years in Jacksonville as a left tackle and could do so this season for Seattle.
For now – as in Monday’s practice – Rees Odhiambo was at left tackle.
And don’t rule out Ethan Pocic. More on that later.
Joeckel started three seasons at left tackle after the Jaguars made him the second-overall pick in 2013. He played left guard for the first five games of last season after Jacksonville signed veteran left tackle Kelvin Beachum. Then Joeckel had a knee injury and surgery that ended his 2016 season.
Joeckel has started the first two preseason games at left guard – and sounds like he will made it three starts there this month on Friday when the Seahawks host Kansas City. Seahawks general manager John Schneider said after signing Joeckel for one year and $7 million guaranteed that he played better at left guard than tackle. Cable has said Joeckel was one of the league’s best guards last season before he got hurt.
“Fortunately for us – I don’t know if you guys look at it this way – Luke Joeckel is with us,” Carroll said. “Luke has been a starting left tackle in the NFL. ... And if that’s what winds up happening, that’s what winds up happening.”
But, Carroll added: “We like Luke playing at left guard. And we would like to keep it that way.
“I know you are all concerned about that. But we’re movin.’ We’re going to keep rolling.”
Odhiambo, the Seahawks’ 2016 third-round pick, was a left tackle his entire college career at Boise State. He replaced Fant in the second quarter of Friday’s night preseason win over Minnesota, gave up sacks on two of the first three plays after halftime and was called for two holding penalties. One was declined by the Vikings, on the play Odhiambo got beaten by a second-team defensive end for the second sack.
Odhiambo practiced at left tackle Monday. He’s also been practicing at left guard for much of training camp.
“You saw what happened: Rees goes right in there and starts playing. That’s the first thing that happened,” Carroll said.
Odhiambo was all for the move, and spoke about it with great confidence.
“It’s a big opportunity,” he said. “And I’m ready to go take it.”
Another reason the Seahawks don’t want to move Joeckel to left tackle, at least not yet: In a nod to salvaging whatever continuity it can on the offensive line with only two preseason games to go before the regular season, Carroll said the team has no plans to move right guard Mark Glowinski back to the left side.
Glowinski started last season at left guard, but moved to right guard this offseason to get him more comfortable. The third-year man started his two college seasons at West Virginia at right guard, after transferring from junior college.
So it’s a work in progress. Monday was not at all conclusive.
Joeckel was taking a rest day as he continues to round his way fully back from the knee surgery. And, again, the practice was before the trade for Tobin.
Back to Pocic: Don’t rule him out being the starting left tackle on Sept. 10 when the Seahawks begin the real season at Green Bay.
The Seahawks drafted him in the second round, and that’s prime value for Schneider and all fellow NFL GMs. Pocic has practiced at right tackle, right guard and center, in that order of frequency, this month. Schneider said during the draft Pocic, a center, guard and tackle at LSU, was like getting “2 1/2 guys in one” player.
Can it be 3 1/2? Can he be the left tackle?
“Could be, yeah. He has played left tackle in his past. He’s played everything. He’s already played a little bit of everything for us,” Carroll said. “That’s a possibility.
“He’s only played a short time there on the left side. He’s been primarily a right-side guy. But when you are a center, you have to be somewhat ambidextrous. So that’s a possibility, also.”
At 6-feet-6, Pocic has the height to be a tackle. He just doesn’t have the experience there. That’s what Jockel has, Tobin has a bit of, and Odhiambo has some – and not the good kind.
Being the next practice is Tuesday and the next preseason game is on Friday, and given Seattle prefers to keep Joeckel and Glowinski where they’ve been all month, it may be Odhiambo who starts the third exhibition, against the Chiefs. Then the Seahawks will get a more extensive look next week at what they have or don’t have in Tobin.
Meanwhile, Pocic will be trying to prove if he can indeed be 3 1/2 guys in one – and perhaps be Seattle’s Plan C left tackle to start 2017.
Carroll said Fant had surgery Monday.
“But he’ll be back,” Carroll said. “He’ll do a fantastic job (in his recovery and rehabilitation) and be back for next season and all that.”
Carroll said Fant also had damage to his medial-collateral ligament in his knee from teammate Justin Britt falling across the back of his right leg while they were pass blocking. But the coach said because Fant has no cartilage damage the injury could have been worse.
“That really will help him in terms of long-term recovery,” Carroll said.
Gregg Bell: @gbellseattle