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Two-Minute Drill: "Night and day" difference for J.R. Sweezy at this year's training camp
It ain't easy, being J.R. Sweezy.
Or at least that was the case last year around this time, when Sweezy - the team's project pick chosen in the draft's seventh round - was thrown into the proverbial fire, making the switch from college defensive tackle to NFL offensive guard.
"The biggest and most obvious jump is Sweezy," said Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll when asked how the club has improved along the offensive line since a season ago. "He didn’t know anything. At this time last year, this would have been his third time out to practice on the offense. He’s much farther along."
Through the first three days of training camp, Sweezy has split time with third-year pro John Moffitt working with the team's No. 1 offense at right guard. Sweezy started the last two regular season games of 2012 against the San Francisco 49ers and St. Louis Rams, as well as the team's postseason bouts with the Washington Redskins and Atlanta Falcons, but it was his start in Week 1 against the Arizona Cardinals that really set things in motion.
"That first game against Arizona I got used," Sweezy said after getting some extra work in with assistant head coach/offensive line coach Tom Cable following Saturday's practice. "I got used and I didn't know it. It was a completely different ball game. I didn't know half the stuff their defense was doing - it was crazy."
Sweezy's performance in that game made him sit down and focus on what exactly went wrong. As a lifelong defensive player, Sweezy's mentality was to attack, attack, and attack some more - a tactic he found can hinder you when working along the O-line.
"Last year, I was just attacking the whole time because that was the only thing I knew," Sweezy said. "You still attack on the offensive line, but you've just got to know when those times are."
Sweezy described his comfort level at training camp as "night and day" compared to a year ago. He credits his improvement to an increased attention to detail, emitting a greater focus on the field, and a little bit of help from some teammates, too.
"All the guys on the O-line - they've done nothing but help," Sweezy said. "Paul [McQuistan] helps me out every day, Max [Unger], Breno [Giacomini], Russell [Okung], Moff [John Moffitt] - they all try to help. We're all helping each other trying to get better.
"I'm still learning and trying to perfect things, so that I do it right every single time. Sometimes I can be a little inconsistent, so that's what I'm working on."
The competition at right guard will be one of the key positional battles to keep an eye on as camp moves forward, but Carroll likes what he's seen out of Sweezy so far.
"He gives us a much more competitive mindset for us because we know that he understands what’s going on," said Carroll. "He had a good off season. He proved to us that he had advanced this season tremendously. That’s a big help."
Below is a little bit more from my Saturday conversation with Sweezy, including the origin of those It ain't easy, bein' Sweezy t-shirts you may have seen last year on fullback Michael Robinson's Real Rob Report.
Several players last year wore t-shirts that had the phrase "It ain't easy, bein' Sweezy" on the front. How did those come about?
"It started out as a joke. I didn't even know they were making them. Then I showed up at the Carolina game last year and 50 people had them on."
Your teammates had the t-shirts on, or fans?
"Family and friends. Then, unfortunately, Breno [Giacomini] got a glimpse of it and told on me and then the shirts took off here. The players started wanting them. It's pretty cool, pretty nifty."
Rookie offensive lineman Jared Smith is making the transition from defensive line to offensive line this year. What sort of advice do you give him?
"Yeah, we talk every now and then. I try to tell him the transition isn't going to happen overnight, that it's going to be a process. I try to tell him that I'm still working at it and just to not get too hard on yourself. You'll get better at one thing every day."
Is it better being on the same side of the football as quarterback Russell Wilson, as opposed to the opposite side like you two were during your time at North Carolina State?
"Yeah, definitely. It was weird at first. But now it's pretty cool to have him behind you."