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September 30, 2014 at 4:50 PM

Seahawk Garry Gilliam ready to catch in a pinch

With Zach Miller out for a few weeks, Seattle’s tight end options are now Luke Willson and Cooper Helfet, the other two tight ends on the roster.

Willson now becomes the starter and Helfet the backup, and the reasonable expectation is that they will be able to handle the tight end duties.

But obviously,  lots can happen in an NFL game and if the Seahawks have a need for another tight end, the next option is rookie tackle Garry Gilliam, who played tight end throughout his high school years and through his junior season at Penn State before moving to tackle. Gilliam’s background as a tight end —- specifically, the athleticism it indicated he has — was one reason the Seahawks were hot on Gilliam’s tracks to sign as an undrafted free agent last May.

Gilliam recalled Tuesday that Seattle called him as the draft was ending to let him know they’d like to sign him as a free agent.

“After my Pro Day, they were actually one of the only teams that came to work me out up at Penn State afterward,” he said. “And after that it was constant communication and contact all the way throughout the draft.”

Seattle was looking at Gilliam primarily as a tackle.

But Gilliam said the fact that he had tight end in his background — he made eight catches at Penn State — came up in conversation.

“Oh yeah definitely,” he said. “They came to me when I was getting scouted out that I could possibly play as a tight end with having a past in end. Obviously tackle is going to be the future.”

But as he said, he could  be “helping the team out now” by brushing up on his tight end skills.

So that’s what he did Tuesday, running a few routes during practice.

Gilliam played a few snaps as an eligible tackle in the preseason finale against the Raiders. But otherwise he has concentrate on being a conventional tackle and he said he had not run routes with any seriousness until today — he and a lot of the other linemen often throw the ball around early on gamedays as a way to warmup.

“I weigh a little bit more,’’ said Gilliam, listed now at 305, about 30 pounds more than his tight end days. “But I still have the quickness I need to run the routes they want me to do.’’

Gilliam recalled today that he initiated the switch at Penn State because he thought tackle was where he had the best shot of making it in the NFL.

“I went to (then Penn State) coach (Tom) O’Brien my second-to-last year and asked him if I could make that switch,” he said. “Obviously for my pro career I thought it would be a lot more beneficial as a tackle than as a tight end. Obviously that’s played out well. I’m here.”

And while he said he had played tight end since he was 7, he said he doesn’t necessarily miss it.

“Obviously it’s different,” said Gilliam, who was on the field for two snaps in the season opener against Green Bay in the offensive jumbo package. “But the same pleasure you get from scoring a touchdown you get on the O-line from picking up a blitz or something. It’s a little bit different but definitely fun to be able to help the team and get on the field.”

 

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