Nose tackles and centers are usually the dogs and cats of football.
They don’t get along. And no wonder. They line up, helmets inches apart, snarling at each other. The defensive nose tackle’s job is to violently and continually bang into the center, to disrupt his first move and thus the entire line’s plan for each play. The center’s job is usually to blow through the nose tackle, even when his assignment is somewhere else.
Yet new Seahawks nose tackle Travian Robertson and returning center Lemuel Jeanpierre are inseparable by comparison.
Both played collegiately at South Carolina, Jeanpierre two years older than Robertson.
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“He was on the D-line when I got there. He actually hosted me coming out of high school (in 2006). Then he moved to the O-line,” Robertson said Wednesday, his first practice days since Seattle signed him Tuesday off the Atlanta Falcons’ practice squad. “He’ll tell you I got him kicked off defensive line.”
So how was Jeanpierre as a host?
“He was terrible,” Robertson said, suppressing a smile. “He passed me off to some other guy. He took the (meal hosting) money and …
“I’m just playin’. It was cool. We’ve got the same agent. It just worked out.”
Robertson is Seattle’s latest attempt to fill in for injured run-stuffer Brandon Mebane, who was playing as well as he has in his eight-year career – until two games ago when he tore his hamstring against the New York Giants. Jeanpierre re-signed Tuesday after a September injury settlement to replace injured Max Unger as he had the previous three seasons.
And Jeanpierre is Robertson’s host again.
“Having him here, being here a few years, he’s helping me,” Robertson said. “Showing me around the city, how things work here.”
The Falcons wanted to keep Robertson by promoting him from their practice squad onto their active roster. To the Seahawks’ new 320-pound tackle, the Falcons should have done that before the Super Bowl champions called Monday afternoon with a place on their active roster.
“They found out kind of late,” Robertson said.
“I was already on the plane.
“Coach (Mike) Smith called and said he wished he had the opportunity. But I felt once I got the phone call (from Seattle) I had to go. I felt like if (the Falcons) wanted me, they would have had me up (on the 53-man active roster).
“Once they found out, a lot of people were upset that I was gone.”
Last weekend, in Seattle’s first game without Mebane, 11-year veteran Kevin Williams, ninth-year man Tony McDaniel and second-year veteran Jordan Hill tried to replace him. It didn’t go well. Kansas City romped for 190 yards on the ground, a season high against what had been the NFL’s top-ranked rushing defense.
As soon as Robertson heard of this opportunity, he zoomed to Seattle.
“I told my wife to get off work and take me to the airport,” Robertson said. “It took me an hour to get to the airport.
“I got the call at 2. I was at the airport by 5:30.”
Jeanpierre also was in a hurry to rejoin the team for which he has played all 52 of his NFL games, with eight starts when Unger has been hurt the last few seasons. The Seahawks put him on injured reserve Sept. 3 for a “stinger” nerve injury in his neck. On Sept. 10 they gave him an injury settlement that made him a free agent.
A day after Unger sustained a high-ankle sprain and twisted knee late in the loss to the Chiefs, the Seahawks called Jeanpierre back.
“They were like, ‘Are you ready?’ ” Jeanpierre said. “I said, ‘My bags are already packed.’
“I’ve been thinking a lot lately: with obstacles come opportunity. I’m blessed. I’m walking, I’m talking. I’m ready to go.”
He didn’t even see the Seahawks’ game last weekend at Kansas City. His hometown Fox television affiliate in Orlando, Florida, was showing Tampa Bay at Washington instead.
Jeanpierre found out Unger was injured when his wife saw word on it crawl across the bottom of their television screen. He had texted Unger before the game and wished his former teammate good luck against the Chiefs.
Now he’s about to replace him.
Coach Pete Carroll says he is “open” to the possibility of Jeanpierre starting Sunday when the Seahawks (6-4) host NFC West-leading Arizona (9-1) in what is essentially a must-win game for Seattle.
Line coach Tom Cable said following Jeanpierre’s first practice “we’ll see” whether Jeanpierre will be fit enough to start five days after signing.
Middle linebacker Bobby Wagner practiced on a limited basis, his first semi-extensive work with the team since he tore a ligament at the bottom of his right big toe and broke the sesamoid bone in a tendon of his upper foot during the loss to Dallas on Oct. 12.
Doctors had told him to expect to be out up to eight weeks. He’s back in 5½.
Asked if he thinks he can be full go to start against Arizona Wagner said, “If you see me with my pads on and wearing number 54, I’ll be full go.”
Carroll said Wagner wowed coaches and trainers by being in “phenomenal shape” for being off the field for so long.
Seven players, four of them starters, did not practice: Unger, RB Marshawn Lynch (back), DB Marcus Burley (hamstring), LB Kevin Pierre-Louis (shoulder), CB Byron Maxwell (calf), DE Michael Bennett (rest) and DE Demarcus Dobbs (knee). Joining Wagner as limited in practice: LG James Carpenter (sprained ankle), RG J.R. Sweezy (thigh) and MLB Brock Coyle (glute). … This is the third listed injury for Lynch in the last four practice days. He had a calf issue last Wednesday and rib Thursday. Yet, given the stakes and the fact he has missed just one game in five seasons, Lynch will be in there again Sunday. … Carroll said he expects 285-pound FB Will Tukuafu to continue to play on offense and at defensive end, as he did after Dobbs got hurt in Kansas City. … Carroll on the Seahawks’ passing game that’s been under 200 yards in four consecutive games and eight of 10 times this season: “I’d like to get a little more out of Ricardo Lockette.” The No. 4 WR has seven catches in 10 games, only one in the last three weeks.