By Eric D. Williams The News Tribune
RENTON — Once again, the Seattle Seahawks are shuffling things around on offensive line at the beginning of the year.
The Seahawks have not started the same starting five on the offensive line for the first three weeks to open a season since 2007, when Walter Jones still served as the team’s cornerstone at left tackle.
In particular, Seattle’s offensive line has had trouble staying healthy the past three seasons. Seattle started 10 different starting offensive line combinations in 2010 and seven different starting offensive line combinations last year.
And now the Seahawks will start their second straight different offensive line combination on Sunday against visiting Dallas, as second-year pro John Moffitt moves back into the starting lineup at right guard.
Moffitt replaces seventh-round selection rookie J.R. Sweezy, who struggled in his first NFL start against Arizona, facing one of the best defensive lineman in the business in Darnell Dockett most of the afternoon.
Moffitt, Seattle’s third-round selection last year, started nine games at right guard as a rookie, but finished 2011 on the injured reserve with a MCL and PCL tear in his left knee.
Moffitt was healthy in time for training camp, but missed most of the preseason because of an elbow injury that required surgery, forcing offensive line coach Tom Cable to get Sweezy ready sooner than expected.
Although Moffitt played in Seattle’s final preseason game against Oakland, he was inactive for the season opener at Arizona.
“We didn’t have any choice when you look at it,” Seattle head coach Pete Carroll said about Sweezy. “I thought he was just outstanding. He did everything beyond our expectations, and we just kept hoping that he would be able to be settled and comfortable in the first game.
“It wasn’t quite that, but it wasn’t because he wasn’t tough or physical or any of that. There was a lot happening, and he just needs more time. ” Moffitt practiced fully on Wednesday with the first unit, and said the most important thing will be getting into rhythm with the rest of the offense.
“I think just getting back to game speed,” Moffitt said. “I think that will be it, and I don’t think it will be a long adjustment. I think I’ll get back out there and knock the rust off and be fine. But it always is a little bit faster than preseason. So I think just getting used to that, and getting used to the flow of the game.”
The Seahawks also could have a new left tackle on Sunday. Russell Okung did not practice on Wednesday because of a bone bruise on his left knee. But Carroll said the expectation is that Okung will play on Sunday.
Eight-year veteran Frank Omiyale worked with the starters at left tackle on Wednesday with Okung out.
Cable said that the addition of Moffitt should help solidify things up front for Seattle, at least for the time being.
“It’s good that he played through that last preseason game,” Cable said about Moffitt. “After a week of practice last week and this week, hopefully he’s ready to go. And we’ll just move forward and try to get everybody on the same page — that’s the biggest issue right now.”
Tate back from knee issue
Seahawks receiver Golden Tate practiced fully for the first time since suffering a sprained knee in his team’s final preseason game against Oakland.
Tate showed explosive burst and good hands while working with the first unit on Wednesday. Tate earned the starting split end job out of training camp, but because of his injury Braylon Edwards started against the Cardinals.
However, if Tate can get through this week’s practices healthy, he’s expected to start against the Cowboys in Seattle’s home opener.
“He’s had a good recovery,” Carroll said. “He’s got to make it through the week and show us he can do all the things he needs to do. But he’s encouraged, and feels really good.”
Seattle offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell says Tate should help his unit create more explosive plays. The Seahawks had just one pass play over 20 yards against the Cardinals, although receiver Sidney Rice earned two defensive pass interference penalties that resulted in big gains for Seattle’s offense.
“There’s certain guys that we have that can really catch the ball,” Bevell said. “He’s one of those guys and that gives us another playmaker.”
Offensive lineman James Carpenter worked in drills during the team portion of practice for the first time since having ACL surgery last December, including the pass blocking drills that he suffered the injury in last year. Carpenter worked at left guard, and appears to be on track to get on the field as some point during the first half of the year. … Seattle receiver Charly Martin, who suffered a bruised lung while diving for a ball in the end zone on the final series against Arizona last week, did not practice on Wednesday, and has been ruled out for Sunday’s game against Dallas. Receiver Sidney Rice (shoulder) also did not practice. Running back Marshawn Lynch (back) and tight end Zach Miller (foot) were limited participants in practice. Defensive end Greg Scruggs (hamstring) and cornerback Byron Maxwell (shoulder) were full participants.