RENTON, Wash. – Two years ago, J.R. Sweezy was playing defensive tackle at North Carolina State. Now, he's a starting offensive guard for the Seattle Seahawks.
It's quite a transition for a player to make once he reaches the professional level but Sweezy has acclimated entering his second season playing the position and earned the trust of the Seahawks coaching staff.
"It's finally coming together," Sweezy said. "I finally feel like an offensive lineman. I know the combos, I know my responsibilities, and now it's just a matter of doing them fast."
Sweezy had been battling with John Moffitt for the starting job at right guard. Through two preseason games, the Seahawks had seen enough from Sweezy to declare him the winner of the competition.
"We gave (Moffitt) a really good chance," head coach Pete Carroll said. "We alternated all through camp to see if he could get J.R. and J.R. beat him out."
Even now, it's still a learning process for Sweezy.
Sweezy started at square one a year ago when the Seahawks selected him in the seventh round of the draft with the intent of converting him into an offensive lineman. Seahawks offensive line coach Tom Cable had put Sweezy through a private offensive line workout prior to the draft because the Seahawks believed his ability to move his feet would make him an ideal candidate to switch sides of the ball.
It was a massive learning curve for Sweezy but he adapted better than expected. Despite just a handful of offseason workouts and a few weeks of training camp, Sweezy ended up starting the regular-season opener against Arizona at right guard as Moffitt was still recovering from a surgery to his elbow.
He struggled initially but continued to make progress. He rotated in with Moffitt for most of the season before earning the starting job in December. He started the final two games of the regular season and both playoff games for Seattle a year ago.
Now the starting job is completely his. The Seahawks traded Moffitt to the Denver Broncos on Tuesday after an attempted trade to the Cleveland Browns was voided after Moffitt failed a physical.
The Seahawks felt Moffitt was expendable due to the emergence of rookies Alvin Bailey and Michael Bowie as possible reserve options that can play both tackle and guard.
With Sweezy earning the starting job, the offensive line Seattle will take into their regular season opener against the Carolina Panthers is the same one that concluded last season. The chemistry and comfort among the five starters continues to grow.
"I feel like we are in a pretty good spot," Sweezy said. "We are always working to get better but I feel pretty comfortable with what we are doing right now."
Sweezy still feels he can improve upon aspects of his game. He said he'll never be truly satisfied with his run blocking. But now he feels like an offensive lineman and understands the demands of the position.
"It's unbelievable how much I didn't know last year compared to this year," Sweezy said. "...Just basic things like keying the right backers and when the line moves, you know the right combos to go to. It's like night and day compared to last year."
Notes: DT Jesse Williams (knee), FB Michael Robinson (illness), WR Stephen Williams (undisclosed), WR Bryan Walters (hamstring), DT Jordan Hill (arm) and G James Carpenter (foot) sat out practice on Tuesday. ... CB Antoine Winfield had an ice wrap on his left knee and was held out of the latter stages of practice. CB Richard Sherman appeared to tweak his foot late in practice after battling WR Golden Tate for a pass in the end zone.
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