Eleven Seahawks players were polled this week in the team’s locker room about who they thought the most improved player on the team was. (One player, cornerback DeShawn Shead, couldn’t settle on just one teammate so he voted for three.)
Justin Britt was one of the Seahawks’ most curious cases at the start of the season. He started at right tackle as a rookie and at left guard his second season, but neither looked like a fit.
A second-round pick in 2014, Britt switched to center this offseason. Any skepticism at that point was fairly earned.
Not only had Britt struggled the previous two seasons but center is one of the offensive line’s most challenging positions. It requires a command of the line and an understanding of defenses.
Offensive-line coach Tom Cable was optimistic but cautious before the season.
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“I like what Justin is doing at center,” Cable said, “but until you really play football, you don’t really know.”
Seven months later, several of Britt’s teammates unofficially voted him most improved this season. Eleven players were polled this week in the team’s locker room (one player, cornerback DeShawn Shead, couldn’t settle on just one teammate so he voted for three). The final count:
• Center Justin Britt: six votes
Receiver Doug Baldwin: “You didn’t know what to expect when he was at center, but he’s done a fantastic job of leading those guys up front and taking that position as his own.”
Linebacker Mike Morgan: “They’ve been trying to figure out a center for a while since Max (Unger) left. He’s been consistent, he’s a Pro Bowler. He controls that line. I feel like he’s played really well this year.”
Linebacker K.J. Wright: “I believe he’s going to be a center for the rest of his career. He’s really smart, and I ask him questions all the time about certain defenses and what he’s seeing.”
Linebacker Brock Coyle: “Just the fact he’s played three different positions in his three years in the league and how he’s played center at such a high level.”
Tight end Luke Willson: “I just think he’s doing a really good job for us. Not that he hasn’t in the past, but center isn’t an easy position.”
Shead: “He’s doing a great job playing center, moving outside coming in.”
• Defensive end Frank Clark: four votes
Britt: “Just look at what he’s doing. He had a great start last year, but he’s just taken off and has become a beast in what he does. It’s hard for anyone to handle him.”
Defensive end Cassius Marsh: “I just feel like he took it to a new level. He made more plays that he was supposed to make and made more plays he was not supposed to make. Not supposed to as in plays that are not expected of him.”
Defensive end Cliff Avril: “He’s actually understanding the game a little more. You can tell he’s picking up more and understanding the game more, and it’s showing.”
Shead: “He’s getting better and better as the season goes.”
• Tight end Jimmy Graham: one vote
Receiver Jermaine Kearse: “His blocking this season has been really good. He’s gotten a lot better.”
• Offensive tackle George Fant: one vote
Kevin Pierre-Louis: “It’s night and day. It went from a scary, ‘Oh!’ It was a different kind of eye-opening experience. The first one was bad, like, ‘All right, it’s going to be a rough one for him’ to ‘Oh, wow’ once you see him put in all the work.”
• Shead: one vote
Receiver Paul Richardson: “With teams going away from (Richard Sherman) and them coming to him, he rises to the challenge every time. And every time someone has made a play, he’s bounced back.”
• Richardson: one vote
Shead: “He’s getting his opportunities, a little more healthy and getting some more reps and definitely showing a lot of improvement.”