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What’s Next For Seahawks Offensive Line Following George Fant Injury
SEATTLE—You’d be hard pressed to have found a player about whom Pete Carroll was more excited during training camp that second-year tackle George Fant.
A former college basketball standout turned very unlikely starter as a rookie—and it’s hard to overstate how amazing it was that Fant was able to function as an NFL starter last season with such a limited football background—Fant came back for his second season both physically transformed and also much further ahead in the mental side of the game.
Just two days ago, Carroll said Fant would be his team’s starting left tackle, further demonstrating how far the second-year tackle had come. But unfortunately things changed Friday when Fant sustained what Carroll described as a “significant” knee injury that will require surgery, in all likelihood ending his season before it really had a chance to get going.
“Really broken hearted by George Fant getting hurt,” Carroll said following Friday’s win over the Vikings. “It’s really unfortunate. He has done so much, and come so far, and everybody is cheering for him and rooting for him all along… It’s heartbreaking. It’s so unfortunate. It’s unfortunate that George doesn’t get to play football.”
As Carroll notes, the injury is unfortunate first and foremost for the player who made so much progress in the offseason, only to see his season derailed before he played a single regular season game. But the secondary concern behind Fant’s well-being is that of an offensive line that lost its starting left tackle.
It was far too soon for Carroll to announce any long-term decisions on the line following Friday’s game, but the Seahawks do have a few viable options for their line going forward. Rees Odhiambo came in for Fant during the game, so he certainly is a candidate for that job, but so too is Luke Joeckel, who had been slated to be the starter at left guard next to Fant. The Seahawks signed Joeckel, who was a left tackle for his first three seasons in Jacksonville before moving to guard in 2016, in part because of his ability to play both positions.
“We’re very fortunate that Luke Joeckel is on our team,” Carroll said. “Luke can start at left tackle or left guard. We’re just fortunate that he’s with us. We have some choices and we’ll figure that out in time.”
If the Seahawks do decide to move Joeckel out to tackle, then the open spot in the starting lineup shifts to left guard. Odhiambo has played both positions at camp, so he’s an option there, though both Carroll and offensive line coach Tom Cable have said this week they want to see more consistency out of the 2016 third-round pick if he’s going to earn a starting job.
“He has been a little bit up and down,” Carroll said. “He has been playing both spots, guard and tackle of the left side. We like his physicality, he’s a good athlete, he’s strong and tough and all that. Just cleaning up his game so he can be real consistent is what we’re concerned about, and how soon will that come. And, will he be able to clean it all up in time to win one of these spots? We’ll see what happens.”
Another possibility could be undrafted rookie Jordan Roos, who has impressed coaches throughout camp.
“He has done very well,” Carroll said. “He’s been a guy that we’ve been very excited about. He’s really tough, and he’s smart. He fits very well. He could definitely play left guard for us.”
And while he has played exclusively at right guard throughout camp, Mark Glowinski did start at left guard last season, so that could be a consideration as well. Glowinski is currently competing with Oday Aboushi for the starting job at right guard.
Finally, the Seahawks will always keep their eye on what’s available outside of their roster, though top talent isn’t exactly readily available two weeks into the preseason.
“We’re always competing on that,” Carroll said of possibly adding a player. “We’re always looking; we’ll always be in pursuit of trying to get better. That’s what competing’s all about, so we’ll continue to look. But we have to settle our issues with the guys that are here. ”Read