Tom Cable doesn't yet know what his starting offensive line will look like come September, but what the Seahawks' offensive line coach/assistant head coach is certain of is that he likes what he has seen so far and what that could mean for the group in 2017.
Between the progress made by second-year players like George Fant, Germain Ifedi and Rees Odhiambo, and the addition of players like free agents Luke Joeckel and Oday Aboushi, as well as second-round pick Ethan Pocic, Cable sees the potential for a lot of growth from Seattle's line.
"I'm the most excited coach on the staff right now," Cable said Friday after the Seahawks wrapped up their final session of organized team activities. "That's what I've told Coach (Pete Carroll) and (general manager) John (Schneider)—I appreciate them putting this together in a year's time and doing a fantastic job. Our personnel guys nailed this, so it's just a matter of getting them in the right spots and going and playing ball.
"I'm excited as camp approaches. I think we've made some progress towards being ready to go to training camp. That means teaching the offense and getting the young kids involved. I think we're right where we should be at this point… Really all those kids, from George to Germain to Rees, they all have matured a year. It's kind of like a freshman in college. If you play them right away, it can be painful at times, but they make big strides, and they've done that. They've all matured and handled this thing really, really well."
What has taken place so far in offseason workouts is pretty far from being real football, especially in the trenches—Cable noted the most important thing right now is players "understanding what we're doing"—but from the limited work the line can do in a no-contact practice, Cable has seen significant progress.
"Those were young kids with no experience, and in George's case, zero experience, and now they've been through it a year," he said. "So you can expect us to be much further along in our preparation as we get ready for camp, for sure."
As for what the line could end up looking like, Cable mentioned that there is currently a three-player rotation on the left side between Fant, Odhiambo and Joeckel, who is still limited because of the knee injury that cut short his 2016 season. While Odhiambo and Joeckel are options at left guard and tackle, Fant is sticking to left tackle, where he finished last season as the starter after taking over the job midseason. Mark Glowinski, last year's starting left guard, moved back to the right side, though he'll have to battle Aboushi for that job, while last year's first round pick Germain Ifedi is now competing at right tackle, and while he would seem to be the favorite there, Pocic could be an option as well. Justin Britt, meanwhile, has become a leader not just of the line but of the entire offense since thriving in his move to center last year.
"For him to be settled is good," said Cable, who mentioned Max Unger's name when talking about Britt's leadership. "You always try to find guys in their roles, I think we're getting closer to that. This is a young enough group that you can kind of see them stay where they're at right now for a while now. Here he is coming off a tremendous first year at center, he was the leader before, now he has really become a strong, strong leader on offense across the board."
In addition to Britt, the free-agent additions of Joeckel and Aboushi should help from a leadership and experience standpoint.
"Veteran, good brain, mature, he keeps the room right," Cable said when asked about Aboushi. "It's nice to have a guy who demands others to be right, to be pros. He is a pro, he acts like it, he knows what it takes in terms of his body and his preparation and study time and all that. So he demands that from those guys."
Aboushi, who has started 18 of 26 career games over the past four seasons with the Jets and Texans, knows his experience was a big reason for the Seahawks' interest in him, and he has embraced being a leader in what is still overall a very young position group.
"Coming in here, I knew it was a young group," Aboushi said. "Being a vet in the room—one of the vets in the room—just coming in here and bringing guys along, competing for a job out here, a starting job. Just kind of really showing guys what it is to be a lineman in this league, a vet lineman, because I've been around the league, I've seen a lot, I've played a lot of games and you've kind of seen things that a lot of the guys in the room it's their first experience for a lot of guys. So just a matter of bringing guys along.
"I knew it was a young team and just conversing with the guys, they all have the want, they all have the work ethic, they all have the want to be great and be better and do better. So just to come in here and whatever I can help them do whether it's weight room-wise or in the film or on the field, techniques, some things to look for, little hints, details, just here to help."
The Seahawks held their seventh and final set of Organized Team Activities on Friday, June 9 at Renton's Virginia Mason Athletic Center.