There is no way to say this without being offensive to Seahawks players who suffered serious injuries before Michael Bowie, but this one is a biggie. There have been a series of players going down with season-ending injuries over the last week, and not just in Seattle, but Bowie becomes the first Seahawks starter to go on that list.
Getting thin at right tackle
Eric Winston was presumed to have been added to the roster as a hedge against Justin Britt, but it is clear in retrospect that it had just as much to do with a Bowie shoulder injury that had been minimized by coaches. Tom Cable was on the radio a day or two ago talking about Bowie’s imminent return.
Now Britt has a sore shoulder. That leaves Nate Isles as the only player left in camp who has been getting snaps at right tackle. Where Cliff Avril has tortured Justin Britt in pass protection, everyone has tortured Isles. The team is set to open pre-season in Denver this Thursday, and featuring a duo of Winston and Isles does not seem sufficient.
Bowie had a role to play
Even if Winston beat Bowie out for the starting right tackle role, Bowie had shown real promise as a guard. He was the Seahawks best option after James Carpenter (who is shockingly injured at the moment) to fill in next to Russell Okung (who is also injured). Caylin Hauptmann has been playing in Carpenter’s absence, and is showing promise, but he will never have the pure mauling power that Bowie demonstrated at times last year as a rookie. Bowie is very much what Carpenter was drafted to be in the first round; a right tackle who can dominate in the running game and be an average pass protector.
Winston has some impressive grades in the running game over his career, but is not overpowering in his approach. From a pure power perspective, the Seahawks line lost something with Bowie’s injury. Even more importantly, the team’s best hedge against a Carpenter injury or poor performance, and Winston injury or poor performance is gone.
The sky remains over our heads
This news represents a real loss to the roster, but is not devastating. Winston has the look of the best right tackle on the roster. Britt’s injury severity is not known, but did not appear serious. There are other right tackle options on the roster that have been yet to be explored. Alvin Bailey may be an option after Okung is back. Hauptmann is a tackle by trade, and has the look of a very athletic one at that. Gary Gilliam is a big man. He looks more like a left tackle than a right tackle, but could get some reps there, and has been doing well in camp. And then there are always veterans cut toward the end of camp who could represent solid insurance policies. It is always a shame to see a young player with such potential lose a year to an injury. This Seahawks line remains in position to take a meaningful step forward in performance with a healthier Max Unger and improved play from Sweezy and Carpenter. Be thankful Winston was available to come aboard, or this could have been far more serious.