How on-the-fly are the Seahawks’ plans in the wake of starting left tackle George Fant’s season-ending knee injury?
Their newest option to replace him didn’t meet his new coaches until after he got on Seattle’s practice field Tuesday.
Matt Tobin practiced Monday for the Eagles, thinking he was playing for Philadelphia against Miami in its third preseason game this week. Late Monday afternoon he was packing his gear and belongings for Seattle, after the Seahawks traded a fifth-round pick to the Eagles for the fifth-year veteran of 21 NFL starts.
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A cross-country flight, three hours of sleep and a Seahawks physical examination later, Tobin got onto the practice field about five minutes into stretching. Coach Pete Carroll came over to introduce himself while Tobin was stretching his quads. Cable came over to do the same -- and to let Tobin know what this means and that means in Seattle’s plays and blocking terminology -- a verbal playbook to try to get him into this left-tackle competition as soon as possible.
“I didn’t see him until we got on the field; I didn’t get to see him before practice,” Cable said, chuckling over the bizarre why to meet a possible key to your line and thus season. “It was one of those quick 2 minutes: ‘Here’s how we say this, this and this’ and he says ‘I don’t know what that is, but I know what this is.’”
New Seattle offensive lineman Matt Tobin says he didn't meet any of the Seahawks coaches until he was on the practice field.
Tobin laughed and shrugged about his first, whirlwind workout for the Seahawks.
“I mean, it’s the business we live in,” Tobin said. “I didn’t have a clue it was coming. (Monday) I was practicing to play against the Dolphins, and now I’m out here.
“Just excited to be here. Ready to compete.”
He better be.
Cable says Tobin, who entered the league in 2013, as an undrafted free agent, is going right into the competition with Rees Odhiambo at left tackle. Tobin will play there Friday night in the third preseason game Odhiambo is starting against Kansas City.
“We’re going to throw him in there and find out,” Cable said of Tobin. “What is today, Tuesday? We’ve got a couple days.”
Cable on Tuesday gave more definition to where the Seahawks’ offensive line is headed, post-Fant.
“You’ve got Rees, who will go out there on Friday. You’ve got the kid we just traded for, Matt Tobin. You’ve got Luke Joeckel,” Cable said of the team’s options to start at left tackle in the season opener Sept. 10 at Green Bay. “I think we have three options.
“My wish, my want, is to try to keep as much of it intact as possible. And, so, if anyone is saying ‘Why don’t they just move Joeckel out there (he played three seasons for Jacksonville at left tackle after the Jaguars drafted him second overall in 2013)?’ well, remember last year, just go back 12 months, I think there was too much of that.
“But this year we have choices. We want to keep it as much intact as we can going forward.”
So that reiterates what Carroll said Monday, that the Seahawks prefer to keep Joeckel at left guard, the position general manager John Schneider has said Joeckel was better at with Jacksonville. But if Odhiambo doesn’t seize the job this week including against the Chiefs and Tobin doesn’t next week or in the preseason finale at Oakland Aug. 31, the Seahawks may have to put Joeckel where he has three seasons of NFL starting experience -- or three more than any other current left-tackle candidate.
Ethan Pocic is not one. Cable said he wants to keep the rookie second-round draft choice at one of the three inside line positions for the remainder of the preseason. Pocic was a starting center at LSU who also played guard and tackle in college. He’s worked as the second-team right tackle, right guard and center this month in practices and two preseason games.
Tobin said he practiced a lot at tackle with Philadelphia. Yet 20 of his 21 starts were at guard (the exception came last season when he started one game as an extra tight end in a specialty formation). Of his final 22 consecutive starts to end his college career at Iowa, Tobin said all but the final four games were at guard for the Hawkeyes. Tobin started last week at tackle for the Eagles in a preseason games against Buffalo.
I asked Cable what he knew about Tobin as an NFL-caliber left tackle.
“I’ve studied him quite a bit, his background, coming out of Iowa with (Hawkeyes coach) Kirk Ferentz and (offensive coordinator) Brian Ferentz, his line coach,” Cable said. “There’s some really good stuff there. A kid who walked on and earned it, has earned everything. So you know he’s got work ethic. You know he’s probably pretty tough. Smart. Reliable. All the things that we look for.
“What has he done on film? He’s been consistent. He’s been in the league for a while. He’s done what’s been called on to go play. He’s done a nice job.”
Tobin’s first impression of the Seahawks?
“They like to have fun,” he said, smiling over the loud music and loose vibe of practice.
He said that this is a lot looser than the environment around the Eagles.
Speaking of looser, Cable said Odhiambo has play to freely and aggressively to win the job.
“I was pretty pleased what happened the other night (against Minnesota), until the start of the second half (two sacks allowed in the first three plays),” Cable said. “He had one drive in there that wasn’t very good. But prior to that and after George’s injury he was pretty good.
“He’s ready for it.”
Cable said he “likes what he’s seen so far” with Germain Ifedi starting at right tackle, and that he wants to see the same jump in improvement the 2016 first-round pick made from the preseason opener against the Chargers to last week against the Vikings.
“We’ll get a pretty good indication if he has improved like we need him to,” Friday against the Chiefs.
He said right guard right now is a coin flip between Mark Glowinski and Oday Aboushi, with Friday’s key determinant.