With an injured Michael Bowie gone after being claimed by the Cleveland Browns, rookie Justin Britt is at the head of the line to be the Seahawks’ starting right tackle. But the team also has brought in the next wave of competition.
The competition to be the Seahawks’ starting right tackle continues, only the names involved have changed.
During Monday’s training camp practice, rookie Justin Britt continued to work at the spot that opened with Breno Giacomini signed with the New York Jets in free agency. And Britt, a second-round pick in May’s NFL Draft, could be the starter when the Super Bowl champions open their preseason on Thursday night with a rematch of the title game against the Broncos in Denver.
When camp opened, Britt was competing with Michael Bowie, who started eight games as a rookie last season when Giacomini was out with a knee injury. But first Bowie injured a shoulder and Sunday he was claimed by the Cleveland Browns after the Seahawks waived him with an injured designation. And the Browns were just one of four teams to claim Bowie, despite the fact that he is expected to be sidelined four to six months.
“It’s unfortunate that we don’t get to keep Michael, but we have to keep moving and keep going here,” coach Pete Carroll said after the team’s ninth training camp practice on yet another sun-drenched day along the shores of Lake Washington.
With Bowie gone, just-signed Eric Winston becomes Britt’s primary competition – and Winston has started 119 consecutive NFL games while playing for the Houston Texans (2006-11), Kansas City Chiefs (2012) and Arizona Cardinals (2013).
And the team now has added Cory Brandon, who was claimed off waivers from the Arizona Cardinals. The 6-foot-7, 325-pound Brandon entered the league as a rookie free agent with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2011 and spent the 2012 and 2013 seasons with the Chicago Bears.
Another option could be Wade Smith, who was signed Monday. A third-round draft choice by the Miami Dolphins in 2003, he also has played with the New York Jets (2006-07), Chiefs (200-09) and Texans (2010-13) and was a Pro Bowl selection as a guard in 2012. But Wade has started at all five spots along the line.
“We’re hoping Wade Smith and Cory Brandon can bring us something,” Carroll said. “We want to continue to work to make this position as competitive as possible. We have a lot of young guys in the spot. Wade, in particular, brings a lot of experience, with tremendous flexibility. And that kind of flexibility might fit with us.
“They’re real good guys and smart guys. That helps us as we try to mold this thing together.”
And then there’s Alvin Bailey, who started seven games at left tackle as a rookie last season when Russell Okung was out with a foot injury. Bailey is still on the left side with the No. 1 line, but Okung practiced on Monday for the first time in camp and his return will eventually allow Bailey to see some time on the right side.
“This is a very competitive situation,” Carroll said. “It’s a really good spot for us in that we do have depth and we have competition.”
In a perfect world, Britt would win the competition and become the long-term answer at a position where the Seahawks have used four starters the past five seasons. One of the things the coaching staff likes most about him is his grittiness, and the fact that Britt played on the big stage that is the SEC while at Missouri. “Nothing is too big for him,” is the way Carroll puts it.
Britt’s fine focus on the task at hand was apparent after practice when he was asked about his anticipation level heading into his NFL debut.
“I’m not thinking about it right now,” he said. “I’m going day by day. I still have a lot to work on. So tomorrow is going to be my main emphasis and I’m going to try to make it work.”
Britt’s competitive level also was on display when asked about sitting out last week to rest a sore shoulder. Some players will tell that stepping back and watching others play “your” spot helps in picking up nuances that are more difficult to see when directly involved in the action. Not Britt, however.
“I wasn’t happy about it,” he said. “I wanted to be out there. It was just a day, but it seems like it was forever. So I’m happy nothing is serious and I’m back out there practicing.”
As well as working on everything necessary to remain very much in the competition for the starting job.
“We have flexibility in how we’re going to do it,” Carroll said. “And we’re going to take our time in figuring it out.”