After trading away Max Unger and allowing former first round pick James Carpenter to skip town in free agency, the Seahawks knew the offensive line would be an issue heading into the 2015 season. That's why the club invested three draft picks on blockers.
The selection who appeared the most pro-ready - guard Mark Glowinski - may get the first extended opportunity of his NFL career to prove it Sunday with head coach Pete Carroll admitting that the rookie from West Virginia could see significant action against the Arizona Cardinals with normal starting right guard J.R. Sweezy out nursing a concussion.
Though Carroll refused to name a starter - perhaps holding out hope that Russell Okung would be able to return from a calf strain and play at left tackle, moving "swingman" Alvin Bailey back to guard - he was excited about the possibility of Glowinski playing.
"He hasn't had a lot of game time work since preseason," Carroll replied when asked if Glowinski was ready. "We do see him every day. He's a real battler and he's a very technique sound kid and he's got a chance to help us. I'm really excited about him getting a chance to play. This is a great opportunity for him, it's also a great opportunity for us to see him under these kinds of conditions. It's the maximum challenge for the guy, but he's tough and he's done a lot of cool things since he's been here. It's his turn. We're really looking forward to seeing him play."
Glowinski has been active in nine games so far as a rookie, though he's seen little actual playing time with the offense.
Glowinski signed with West Virginia Mountaineers as a highly regarded tackle following two seasons starting at Lackawanna College. Shortly after joining West Virginia, Glowinski was slid inside to guard, where his tenacity, strength and length helped him enjoy immediate success - something he continued at the East-West Shrine Game despite being moved back outside to right tackle, at times. Glowinski possesses good initial quickness off the ball and has the lateral agility to handle blocking in space. His best asset may be his hand placement and upper body strength. He can lock on and control defenders and is powerful enough to shove them out of the way even when out of position - at least at the collegiate level.
It is a combination of size (6-5, 310 pounds), athleticism and position versatility which likely attracted the Seahawks in the first place.
While Carroll and the Seahawks can be excited about Glowinski's upside, for a team attempting to build momentum prior to the playoffs, the changing 40% of its offensive line is hardly ideal.
Perhaps most disconcerting is that Sweezy is out indefinitely. The Seahawks only noticed him looking "different" this week and there is no telling if Sweezy will be able to make it out of the concussion protocol in time for the wild card round or potentially future games this season, should Seattle qualify.
"It was Wednesday's walkthrough," Carroll said when asked when Sweezy's condition was first noticed. "I was watching him and he looked like he was, he just looked different. I asked trainers to take a look at him and we started talking to him and he definitely had concussion symptoms that he didn't recognize and he didn't report. We missed it on Monday, and Tuesday we didn't see him. As soon as he got here and ran around with him, we could tell something was up, so we had to dump him right into the protocol and see what we could get done with him. He will not play this week. We'll see what happens next week."
The Seahawks should be confident they can move the ball against the Cardinals. A year ago, despite questions along the offensive line, the Seahawks steamrolled a similar Cardinals defense in Arizona, accounting for a team-record 596 total yards in a 35-6 blowout.