The Seahawks are trying Britt at center, a year after he started at left guard and two years after he started at right tackle.
RENTON — A hat covered Justin Britt’s head, but he revealed the toll of playing his third position along the offensive line in three years.
“I’m definitely losing more hair because of it,” Britt, 25, joked this week at the Seahawks’ team facility. “But the more you can do.”
The Seahawks are trying Britt at center, a year after he started at left guard and two years after he started at right tackle. It’s an experiment intended to create more competition at center, but it’s also one in its infancy.
Offensive-line coach Tom Cable reiterated that only so much can be learned from practices in which players barely wear helmets. At this point, Britt, a second-round draft pick in 2014, is absorbing. The test comes later.
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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.”
That’s good perspective to keep in mind. Britt still has to learn so much nuance of the position, not to mention the center’s most important job: Assess the defense and call out assignments and protections for the rest of the line.
The Britt-to-center experiment started after the draft. The Seahawks loaded up by drafting three offensive linemen, including two guards, Britt’s position last season.
Cable caught Britt off guard after the draft when he asked how Britt felt about center. “I was like, ‘Uh, I’ve never done it, but I’ll do whatever you need me to do,’” Britt said. “Just add to the repertoire, add to the resume, I guess.”
Britt is competing with Patrick Lewis, who started the second half of last season, and Kristjan Sokoli, a second-year player who has drawn high praise but who was a defensive lineman in college.
Britt has accepted the challenge of another position switch.
“I love it,” he said. “Really, I just want to start and play.”
He has also benefited from his friendship with Lemuel Jeanpierre, the former Seahawks center who the team didn’t re-sign.
“Even though he’s not here, he’s a great asset for me to have,” Britt said. “He’s definitely helped me understand the ins and outs without myself having to make it more confusing. Shout out to Lem. Miss you, man. But he’s definitely helped me understand everything, and it’s definitely slowed down the practices for me. The first day or so things were flying. Snaps were probably everywhere. And now they’re consistent and I’m not even thinking about it. I’m just confident in myself.”
It’s too early to know the experiment’s results, but if nothing else, the Seahawks value versatility, and Britt gives them more options.