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Focus on: J.R. Sweezy
“Night and day.” It’s more than a Cole Porter tune that has been recorded by everyone from Fred Astaire to Ella Fitzgerald; Frank Sinatra to Billie Holiday; Etta James to U2.
It’s also the way Seahawks second-year guard J.R. Sweezy describes preparing for Sunday’s regular-season opener against the Panthers in his home state of North Carolina compared to what it felt like to start last year’s opener against the Cardinals in Arizona.
“I’ve said it before in other interviews, it’s night and day,” Sweezy said.
It’s more than understandable. A year ago, Sweezy was in the early stages of making the transition from defensive tackle at North Carolina State to NFL guard.
“Compared to what I knew last year, it’s amazing that I was even on the field,” Sweezy said. “Not in the aspect of what (the coaches) taught me, it was just so much and I hadn’t had that many live reps.”
This summer, Sweezy solidified his status as the starter on the right side to point where former starter John Moffitt was traded to the Denver Broncos. The process began last season, when Sweezy started the last two regular-season games and both playoff games. He got better with each start, each snap. And Sweezy has continued to grow into his new position.
“I’m just a lot better off this year,” he said. “I feel good. I’m confident in the things that I do. I’m just excited. I’m excited to start this year and the season and get after people.”
Sweezy, who played linebacker at Mooresville High School, isn’t the only Seahawks who can count this as a “homecoming” game. Quarterback Russell Wilson and kicker Steven Hauschka also played at North Carolina State, while wide receiver Sidney Rice (Gaffney), cornerback Byron Maxwell (Charleston) and defensive linemen O’Brien Schofield (Camden) and Tony McDaniel (Columbia) are from South Carolina.
“It is a business trip,” Sweezy said. “But it’s also a chance to play in front of family and friends.”