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Seattle Seahawks close to setting O-line

By Curtis Crabtree, The Sports Xchange
Seattle Seahawks close to setting O-line
Seattle Seahawks running back Troymaine Pope (26) runs for a 26-yard gain against the Minnesota Vikings during the fourth quarter of a preseason game at CenturyLink Field in Seattle, Washington on August 18, 2016. The Vikings beat the Seahawks 18-11. Photo by Jim Bryant/UPI | License Photo

RENTON, Wash. -- Perhaps the biggest area of concern entering training camp, the offensive line of the Seattle Seahawks has appeared to be a pleasant surprise through most of the preseason.

Seattle appears to be close to setting their starting unit with one preseason game remaining. The right tackle battle between Garry Gilliam and J'Marcus Webb will continue through the final week. The rest of the group -- left tackle Bradley Sowell, left guard Mark Glowinski, center Justin Britt and right guard Germain Ifedi -- appears to be cemented in place.

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Considering the new additions and position changes made through the offseason, Seattle appears to be in a much better place up front than they were a season ago.

"For a group of five guys who have just been together for a small amount of time, I'm excited to see where we can go," Sowell said. "We have a lot of young, hungry guys on this line."

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Seattle has run the ball effectively through three weeks of preseason games. The Seahawks rank third in the league in yards with 445 yards, an average of 148.3 yards per game. The line has consistently opened holes for backs to get room to run and managed to push defenders off the line of scrimmage. As of Sunday, Christine Michael led the league in preseason with 157 yards in three games.

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After allowing four sacks of Russell Wilson and six sacks overall to the Minnesota Vikings in Week 2, the starting unit kept Wilson upright all game against Dallas. The only sack of the game came via Trevone Boykin running out of bounds behind the line of scrimmage on a fourth quarter scramble.

Wilson frequently had a clean pocket to work from. Even the few improvised plays he made scrambling came after spending time clear of pressure in the pocket. Wilson finished the game 16 of 21 for 192 yards and two touchdowns.

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"Across the board all five of those guys have been playing well," tight end Luke Willson said. "They're tough and they've got kind of different egos, not egos, but like different attitudes and personalities, but they're really meshing well together so it's been good."

Gilliam was initially projected as the replacement for Russell Okung at left tackle entering camp. However, a knee injury to Webb prior to the start of games necessitated a move back to the right side. Sowell has since made a strong showing to start at left tackle Gilliam and a recovered Webb battling for the final starting spot.

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Entering camp, Britt was changing positions for a third straight year. Glowinski had one career start under his belt. Free agent additions Sowell and Webb did little to spark interest. Gilliam was moving to left tackle after just being decent at right tackle a season ago.

But despite all the offseason worry and panic about the state of the line, they've performed quite well and appear to be far from the liability they were a season ago.

"We've got a good group of guys, but beyond that we have a good mixture of personalities," Willson said. "I think one guy, Brad Sowell coming in, he's got a toughness and attitude about him that I think we needed there. He's really, I think, turned a lot of heads. I think him being a vet too, some of the younger guys look up to him. And it's been fun."

--Tight end Jimmy Graham went through pregame warmups prior to Thursday night's game against the Dallas Cowboys but did not play in Seattle's third preseason game.

He was eased into team work for the first time late last week after a couple weeks of individual drills and rehab work. He was activated off the physically unable to perform list on Aug. 10.

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Graham has been behind running back Thomas Rawls from a timeline perspective after both players began camp on the PUP list. Carroll has said that Rawls will absolutely be available for the regular season opener against the Miami Dolphins on Sept. 11. Graham's availability has remained in question.

Head coach Pete Carroll was really pleased with the way Graham looked prior to the Cowboys game.

"He looked great in pregame. He was flying. He was really fired up," Carroll said. "He ran a ton of sprints before that workout, with the throwing and the catching and then he took all those plays, and then he took the pregame warmup. He was lit up about it afterward. He really felt good and that was a big step for him. I'm excited for him."

Graham played some basketball with Carroll last week in an effort to give him a dynamic test for his recovering knee.

"The idea was to give him a chance to have to make moves that are not controlled," Carroll said. "You have controlled workouts where you have bags and you're changing direction and all those kind of things. I thought if he would just feel that, it would show him that he's ready to go to the next level. We just had some fun doing it. I had him 3-2, in fact, he didn't want me to tell you that. Then I stopped playing."

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--Running back C.J. Prosise carried four times for 23 yards in his preseason debut with the Seahawks on Thursday night against the Dallas Cowboys.

Prosise missed the first two preseason games after suffering a hamstring strain on the opening day of training camp. He didn't fully return to practice for Seattle until last week and worked into the rotation as a third-down back for most of his debut performance.

"I was really happy with C.J.'s first outing," Carroll said. "He looked fast, he was confident, he had fun playing. He came off the sidelines and he was having a ball playing football. He was poised about it and handled it well He had a couple nice runs and we're just going to keep going, this is a big week for him. It's just a big week to have him in practice again, but the game will be important. He'll play quite a bit this game."

Seattle is hoping that Prosise can play an important role for them as a third-down back and option with their two-minute offense this season. Fred Jackson, who filled that role with Seattle last year, was not re-signed this offseason.

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Prosise played receiver at Notre Dame before being moved to running back. His versatility as a receiver intrigues Seattle as a potential weapon in the passing game in addition to his running ability.

--WR Tanner McEvoy tweaked his groin in Thursday night's game against the Dallas Cowboys. It was the only injury reported after the game by the team. Carroll deemed McEvoy "questionable at best" to play in the team's preseason finale at Oakland on Thursday.

--DE Cliff Avril said he is reaching out to Cowboys QB Tony Romo after his sack of Romo in Thursday night's preseason game left the Dallas quarterback with a broken bone in his back. Avril said he didn't even know Romo was hurt in the immediate aftermath of the play and wasn't sure exactly how he'd been injured on the play.

--TE Nick Vannett will not play this week after suffering a high-ankle sprain in Seattle's second preseason game against the Minnesota Vikings. Carroll said Vannett's status is also in doubt for the regular season opener against the Miami Dolphins.

--DT Jarran Reed will not play this week after aggravating an ankle injury and injuring his toe against the Vikings. Carroll said Reed's status for the regular season opener against the Miami Dolphins in also in question. He said Reed is closer than Vannett at this stage.

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--DT Sealver Siliga has not been able to recover from an offseason calf injury that initially put him on the non-football injury list to begin training camp. After being briefly activated and practicing, he aggravated the injury in pregame warmups prior to the team's preseason opener in Kansas City.

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