Gilliam, Britt to start; Evan Mathis to visit

After allowing seven sacks to the Denver Broncos in the preseason opener, the Seahawks reshuffled the offensive line, promoting Garry Gilliam to right tackle and shifting fellow second-year pro Justin Britt inside to left guard. Both have performed well enough in practice this week to earn the starting nods at their new positions Friday vs. Kansas City, SeahawkFootball.com has learned.

Preseason or not, it will be the first start of Garry Gilliam's NFL career. The former Penn State tight end was undrafted a year ago and saw most of his rookie season on special teams, highlighted, of course, by his touchdown reception on a fake field goal attempt to spark Seattle's stirring comeback against the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship.

Though smaller than Justin Britt at 6-foot-5, 306 pounds, Gilliam offers better length and overall athleticism than the 2014 second rounder. Though his lean frame gives him the appearance of long arms, the 6-foot-6, 325 pound Britt's wingspan is actually than the NFL average tackle. Britt, who I profiled here for CBSSports and NFLDraftScout.com is a highly physical player who projects very well to guard. His greatest asset is power and aggression in run blocking. While balanced, stout and tenacious, Britt is a better pass blocker than some of his detractors suggest. He does not, however, possess ideal quickness off the ball or the fluidity to handle the NFL's best speed rushers. Friday night will be Britt's first NFL start at guard, a position he's hasn't played since his freshman campaign at Missouri.

According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, the Seahawks will also reportedly kick the tires of former Philadelphia Eagles guard Evan Mathis, scheduling him for a visit to Seattle for Saturday. There are other teams interested in the 33-year old guard, according to Schefter.

Considering that the Chiefs boast one of the most formidable trio of pass rushers in all of the NFL in Justin Houston, Tamba Hali and Dee Ford (as well as the famously raucous crowd at Arrowhead), Seattle's offensive line will have its hands full. The tackle combo of Russell Okung and Gilliam should be especially challenged with KC's top interior defensive -- nose tackle Dontari Poe -- still recovering from off-season back surgery.

In fact, while the third preseason game is generally viewed as the "most important" game of the preseason, the Chiefs could give Seattle Friday night the closest match of what the Seahawks will face September 13 in the regular season opener against the St. Louis Rams.

From left to right, the Seahawks' starting offensive line is expected to be Okung, Britt, Drew Nowak at center, J.R. Sweezy at his customary right guard position and Gilliam. Alvin Bailey - who remains in the hunt for the left guard role and is viewed as Seattle's current "swing" tackle - is likely to be among the first off the bench with rookie guards Kristjan Sokoli and Mark Glowinski jumping in quickly, as well. The rookies each rank among the better first-year players for Seattle so far this year.

Center remains a competitive position, as well, of course, with veterans Lemuel Jeanpierre and Patrick Lewis also expected to log snaps against the Chiefs. The Seahawks are unlikely to keep three centers.

Fortunately, Carroll says the Seahawks new offensive line has shown signs of improvement this week.

"They've looked very solid, Carroll said Thursday. "I think very quickly the transition took place. Garry's been working on both sides for some time as a swing guy. For Justin to move over there, it's a little bit of an adjustment for him. But, he just turned to it immediately, so I think we're in really good shape. We'll get better, we're going to continue to improve as we move through this. It's a good group we're going against, they'll check us out early so it's a good start to gauge where we are."

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