By Eric D. Williams The News Tribune
RENTON — Rookie seventh-round draft choice J.R. Sweezy will start at right guard in the season opener at Arizona, Seahawks coach Pete carroll said Wednesday.
The North Carolina State product is a converted defensive tackle that has showed an impressively quick learning curve in picking up the new position since rookie minicamp in May.
Sweezy supplants last year’s third-round draft choice John Moffitt, who missed most of training camp with an elbow injury that required surgery.
“He’s earned his way,” Carroll said. “He’s our starter.”
Sweezy, who started three games this preseason, said he’s looking forward to getting out on the field.
“I’m excited,” Sweezy said. “I’m excited to have this opportunity. I’m excited to be put in this place in switching to offense and it working out. I’m excited for the game. It’s just kind of surreal, but it’s happening now. I’m not nervous. We’ve already had four preseason games, so I’ll just approach it the same way.”
Sweezy joins quarterback Russell Wilson and middle linebacker Bobby Wagner to give Seattle three rookie starters heading into Sunday’s Arizona game.
Why Winslow was cut
Carroll provided more details on Seattle surprisingly releasing Kellen Winslow during final roster cut downs last week, stating that performance or health were not factors for the veteran tight end leaving Seattle.
The Seahawks gave up as conditional, seven-rounder in a trade with Tampa Bay in May for Winslow’s services. But the pick was contingent on Winslow making the final roster, so Seattle will not be obligated to give up the pick.
Winslow has had chronic knee issues throughout his professional career. He had a workout with New England this week, but reportedly failed a physical with the Patriots.
“He did all right,” Carroll said about Winlsow. “He made it through. And we did a considerable effort to manage him, but he exceeded our expectations in how much he could work. And he never wanted out; he always wanted to practice. So I didn’t know that about him, and I was impressed with that.
“He hated having to miss something because he loves to play.”
That really leaves only one reason for Winslow’s release — money. The Seahawks were on the hook for three years and $13 million in salary for Winslow, including $3.3 million in base salary for the 2012 season.
The Seahawks reportedly asked Winslow to take a pay cut, and he declined, which led to his release.
“Everything’s a factor — and every side of it,” Carroll said about Winslow’s contract factoring into the decision. “Whether they making a lot of money, or they’re not making a lot of money. We take everything into account to make those decisions, and consider every aspect of it — because we have to. That’s how we do it.”
Carroll did not rule out the possibility of Winslow returning to the team at some point later this season.
“Kellen did a great job in my mind,” Carroll said. “And if there was a time down the road that we could get back to him, we would consider doing that.”
Receiver Doug Baldwin (hamstring) practiced on Wednesday. However, Golden Tate has a sprained knee, and his availability is in question for Sunday. Tate did not practice on Wednesday. Braylon Edwards would get the start if Tate can’t go. Rookie defensive lineman Greg Scruggs (hamstring) also did not practice. … Seahawks owner Paul Allen flew into the team headquarters by seaplane and attended practice on Wednesday, talking with general manager John Schneider for most of the practice.