RENTON — Every season since he took over as the Seahawks quarterback, Matt Hasselbeck has enjoyed the luxury of having one of the greatest left tackles of all time protecting his blind side.
For now, anyway, Hasselbeck won’t have Walter Jones to count on. With Jones recovering from knee surgery, Sean Locklear will instead be manning one of football’s most important positions when the Seahawks open their season Sunday against St. Louis.
“It keeps you focused,” Locklear said of knowing he’s the one watching Hasselbeck’s back. “Everything’s not going to be perfect, but it’s my job to keep Matt safe. I’ve got to get myself ready to do what it takes to protect him.”
Locklear says he’s ready. A third-round draft-pick in 2004, Locklear has spent most of his career as a right tackle, but he has had plenty of practice experience at left tackle thanks in part because of Jones’ hold-outs earlier in his career when the Seahawks used the franchise tag on him, and lately because of injuries.
For a while now the Seahawks have viewed Locklear as the eventual replacement for Jones, and this week and perhaps for a few weeks longer, Locklear will get his shot to show he can handle it.
“I’m feeling pretty good,” Locklear said. “It just takes time and repetition, and I’ve been over there the entire camp playing left tackle. I felt like minicamp was so-so, but now I feel real comfortable. How long am I going to be there? I don’t know, but I can say I’m more comfortable there than I’ve ever been.”
Locklear knows he isn’t Walter Jones, nor is he trying to be. Locklear admitted earlier in camp that there is only so much he can learn from watching Jones because the nine-time Pro Bowler is such a unique physical talent. But that doesn’t mean Locklear isn’t confident he can get the job done.
“It’s different,” he said of the move from right to left tackle. “It’s definitely the hardest position on the offensive line. That’s why they get paid the big bucks, because it is so hard. But like I said, I’m feeling comfortable and I’m pretty confident that I can handle the job until Walt gets back.”
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