RENTON, Wash. – Prohibited from practicing by NFL rules until Thursday, new Seahawks left guard Robert Gallery has been advising his young teammates on the field and looking very much like an assistant coach.
Gallery, who came to Seattle as a free agent from the Oakland Raiders, is expected to anchor a line with five starting offensive linemen who have never played as a group in a meaningful game.
Center Max Unger was drafted in 2009, left tackle Russell Okung in 2010, and right tackle James Carpenter and right guard John Moffitt were drafted this year. Unger missed nearly all the 2010 season with an injury and is just now catching up.
Drafted second overall by the Oakland Raiders in 2004 as an offensive tackle out of Iowa, Gallery struggled at the left and right tackle position before Tom Cable was hired to fix Oakland's line in 2006. It didn't take long for Cable to find a new position for Gallery and resuscitate his career.
"When I looked at Robert, just his squareness, his size, his power inside, convinced me right away that here's a guy that can really play guard. And the left guard position in this league is very important," said Cable, now the assistant head coach/offensive line coach for the Seahawks.
Cable became Oakland's head coach in 2008 but the Raiders decided not to pick up his option after the 2010 season. Hired by Seahawks coach Pete Carroll to add toughness to Seattle's running game, Cable knew he wanted his left guard back with him, and just why the move was so important. The Raiders finished second in the NFL with a 4.9 yards per carry average in 2010; Seattle's 3.7 average was tied for second-worst.
"Very intelligent, very tough-minded, phenomenal worker, kind of a relentless mentality when it comes to preparation," Cable said of Gallery. "So he fits my mentality the right way. You just outwork everybody, and then the result's going to be what you want."
Not only is Gallery strong enough to push any defensive lineman back, he's also smart enough to help install the system he learned in Oakland. That's important in a preseason shortened by the lockout.
"It's tough because you're so far behind," Gallery said. "In the usual offseason, you slowly put in the playbook and you get to digest stuff over a two- to three-month period. Now, you've got a week and a half to learn it. For a young guy, you've got to learn that much faster. If you don't know that you're doing, it's hard to look good and show what you have."
That said, Gallery didn't hesitate for long when Cable talked to him about the Seattle move.
"He was a big factor," he said. "I know how he coaches, how he treats guys, and the way he handled himself as a head coach and line coach in Oakland. Also the situation here, it's a great place, it's run well from top to bottom, and I wanted to continue to grow under (Cable). Everybody knows how much I respect him."