J.R Sweezy won the right guard spot in Camp Competition

Posted Aug 20, 2013

J.R. Sweezy was competing with his friend, John Moffitt, for the right guard spot on the Seahawks’ offensive line. When Sweezy won the starting job, Moffitt became expendable.

J.R. Sweezy and John Moffitt never let the fact that they were competing for the starting spot at right guard interfere with the fact that they were more than teammates.

That was never more apparent than the way Sweezy reacted to the news that the Seahawks were trading Moffitt, a third-round draft choice in 2011.

“I talked to him, gave my best wishes, gave him a hug,” Sweezy said after practice Tuesday, when the Seahawks began preparing for their third preseason game against the Packers in Green Bay on Friday night. “He’s a great guy, a great friend. It’s rough to see him leave. But it’s a business, and it shows how much of a business it is.”

Sweezy already had backed those words with actions, even when the action on the field involved two friends vying for one position.

“We stayed pretty close throughout the whole thing,” Sweezy said. “We said at the beginning that we weren’t going to let anything come between our friendship and what happens on the field we leave on the field.”

And it was the on-field development of Sweezy, a defensive lineman at North Carolina State who was drafted in the seventh round last year and converted to guard, that made Moffitt expendable. So where the constantly improving efforts of rookies Michael Bowie and Alvin Bailey, who played guard as well as tackle in Saturday night’s preseason home opener against the Broncos.

“We gave John a really good chance. We alternated all through camp. J.R. beat him out and did a nice job,” coach Pete Carroll said. “But we would not have been able to do a trade like that if the young guys hadn’t been doing a really good job. I think it’s really a statement about those guys growing and coming in and helping us.”

Moffitt was traded to the Cleveland Browns on Monday for defensive lineman Brian Sanford. Tuesday, that trade was nullified because of health issues with each player, and Moffitt was traded to the Denver Broncos for defensive tackle Sealver Siliga in another deal that is pending on the players passing physicals.

Sweezy, meanwhile, asked the prerequisite question about how different this summer has been to last summer and he offered the obvious: “It’s night and day.”

He then added, “It’s unbelievable how much I didn’t know last year compared to this year. So yeah, I’d say it’s a big jump.”

How head-spinning and mind-bending was that transition from college defensive lineman to NFL offensive lineman last year? Sweezy didn’t know then just how much he didn’t know.

“Exactly,” he said.

But Sweezy started the opener of his rookie season at right guard in Arizona, and struggled with everything the Cardinals defensive unit threw at him. Moffitt (three games) and Paul McQuistan (10 games) then started before Sweezy moved back in for the final two regular-season games and both playoff games. He played progressively better with each start, each series, each snap.

Now it’s Sweezy’s job because he has taken to the transition and everything that goes with it.

“First and foremost, J.R. is understanding offensive line play,” said Tom Cable, the Seahawks’ offensive line coach and assistant head coach. “He’s learning how to be an offensive lineman, fundamentally – how to use his hands and feet together.”

Sweezy agreed, and then offered the proof that he knows what Cable looks for in an offensive lineman.

“It’s finally coming together. I finally feel like an offensive lineman. I know the combos (blocks). I know my responsibilities. Now it’s just a matter of doing it fast,” he said. “I just try to go fast, be powerful and try to find my keys and just go. I feel that’s a lot of our mentality on the offensive line, just go hard, fast and physical.”