The Seahawks are going to be without their vital anchor to their offensive line for perhaps a month. And it appears they are about to bring back a familiar center to replace him.
Coach Pete Carroll said two-time Pro Bowl center Max Unger is likely to miss three or four weeks -- more than half of Seattle's remaining, all-important games in the regular season -- with a high-ankle sprain and twisted knee.
The Seahawks' offense suddenly stalled when Unger got hurt with 9 minutes remaining and Seattle inside the Chiefs' 10 poised for the go-ahead score. Fourth-string center Patrick Lewis, signed and released early this season then re-signed recently, finished the game. The Seahawks went from 20 points, 6.2 yards per play including 5.8 yards per rush with Unger in to zero points, 1.8 yards per play and 1.3 yards per rush after he got hurt.
So Seattle (6-4) isn't exactly comfortable with Lewis starting the must-win game Sunday against the flying Arizona Cardinals (9-1) and their rampaging defense at CenturyLink Field.
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Lemeuel Jeanpierre is available. The Seahawks placed Unger's backup the last three seasons on injured reserve on Sept. 3 for a neck injury. Weeks later, the Seahawks gave the 27-year-old, former undrafted free agent with Kansas City in 2010 an injury settlement. That made him a free agent. Jeanpierre has since had a couple tryouts with NFL teams but remains unsigned.
That might change as soon as tomorrow. Expect the Seahawks to sign Jeanpierre. The beauty of that is he could conceivably start on Sunday against Arizona; he knows the system better than Lewis does.
When I asked Carroll about the possibility of adding Jeanpierre now, the Seahawks' coach said: We know he's out there...He's an option, yes. Everybody is an option."
--Following up on the Seahawks' being visited by agents from the Drug Enforcement Agency yesterday as part of a league-wide search for compliance to the federal Controlled Substances Act as part of an investigation relating to a lawsuit brought by former NFL players against the league's use of painkillers: The DEA agents' search of bags and interviews with the Seahawks' medical staff occurred at Kansas City International Airport on the team's way home following the game. Agents found the Seahawks to be in compliance with federal laws controlled substances and the possession and dispersal of prescription medication.
Seattle joined Tampa Bay and San Francisco as the three visiting teams known to have gotten visits from the DEA yesterday. There were likely more and will be more, as the lawsuit investigation not related to the Seahawks per se continues.
--The Seahawks are three games behind the Cardinals with six games left in the regular season. Two of those games are against Arizona, two are against San Francisco and one is at Philadelphia before the final regular-season game at home against St. Louis.
When I asked Carroll how tall a task this is awaiting the Super Bowl champions, the coach said he is excited and optimistic by the schedule being so back-loaded with division games.
"All the drama is still out there," Carroll said. "We are as loaded as we can get" at the end of the schedule.
--Carroll said again, as he did in Kansas City following the game, that the reason running back Marshawn Lynch stayed outside in a 10-degree wind chill at Arrowhead Stadium during halftime while the rest of the team was in the locker room was to stretch a lower back that had been getting rubbing and stretched by a trainer throughout the first half.
Carroll shook his head and almost scoffed when asked about the perception raised in a report by the league-owned television network and website that Lynch was unhappy with the team or in some kind of protest mode by not being in the locker room at halftime.
"He was just trying to survive the day," Carroll said, while praising how hard and how well Lynch played while rushing for 124 yards on 24 bullish carries.
By the way, that may have been a $100,000 phone call Lynch placed to good friend and former Seahawks teammate Michael Robinson and to Mike Silver, both of NFL Network, to avoid a fine for him not talking to "the media."
--Middle linebacker Bobby Wagner will practice Wednesday and has a good chance to play Sunday against Arizona for the first time since he got a turf-toe ligament injury on Oct. 12 against Dallas, Carroll said. That would be a huge plus for a defense that yesterday had linebackers K.J. Wright in the middle and Malcolm Smith outside overrunning rushing lanes, missing tackles and getting blocked at Kansas City rushed for 190 yards, the most against the Seahawks this season.
--Carroll also said left guard James Carpenter has "a real chance" to play against the Cardinals. Carpenter sprained his ankle in the second half of the win over Oakland Nov. 2. Alvin Bailey has played the last two games for Carpenter and has done well.
--Here is a link to the day-after chat we had today. We did it a little differently today, starting it later and having it span Carroll's press conference. The feedback was good, so I may keep doing it this way. Check it out and let me know if you like the chat going during the Carroll press conference each Monday.
--And here is all that Carroll said today:
Head Coach Pete Carroll
November 17, 2014
(Opening) As we go back and look at this game, we see a really highly competitive game. We saw a really good game plan by Kansas City. They did a nice job. They really came in and ran the football at us and did a good job of it. We really were impressed with Jamaal’s [Charles] game and the way he maneuvered around the field. It came out to a game that we had plenty of chances. We had really good opportunities to win this football game. Got ahead in the second half and had a chance to hold that and had a chance to get it back a couple times and it was unfortunate that we weren’t able to get that done. It was frustrating that we weren’t. This is one of those games where you see all those statistics and they don’t tell you the story of this game necessarily and the big runs by those guys really were the difference in the game for us. But statistically, it was somewhat of an unbalanced game so hopefully we can pick up from here and get back to going here. This last six-week surge here in the schedule will be incredible matchups for everybody in our division, for sure and it gives everybody a great opportunity to do something really good with this season. We’re going to go for it and it starts off with Arizona. We’ve already taken a look at those guys; of course, we’ve seen them all throughout the year and that’s going to be a great challenge. They’re having a great year too so it’s a big week for us right now.
(On any update on Max Unger) Yeah. Max has a high ankle sprain and he did twist his knee a little bit too and it looks like it’s a three week/four week type of deal.
(On what he can say about the visit from the DEA) Really, there’s nothing I can say because the league has already commented about it. I wouldn’t know what to tell you but they did visit us and we took care of business and we complied with everything they needed.
(On if he can characterize if it was a short visit) I don’t even know. We just got on the plane. I don’t even know what took place but I’ve been informed that everything went fine.
(On if missing Brandon Mebane yesterday was a big factor or was it other issues) We were not as precise with our fits and that’s why some of those runs got out. That had to do with missed fits here and there, that I think some guys in new places, did affect us a bit. We have been so steady with Brandon for so long that that allowed other guys to play in their spots. It wasn’t so much at the nose tackle spot, it was just other guys having to fill in and all so our rotations didn’t work out as sharp as we would like but it wasn’t just the guys up front. We needed to fit the whole running game better than we did but you can’t not miss a guy like that, he’s just that special of a player.
(On with Max Unger out, if he has to do something to add a center) We will see what we’re doing here in the next couple of days. We will let you know.
(On the plan with Bobby Wagner and if he will play this week) Bobby had a great workout at the game and he had a great one again today. That puts him in position to practice on Wednesday. We will see how he does and see how he takes it. He will have a chance to play this week if all goes well for him which would be awesome. We’ve missed him for so long; I can’t even remember the last time he played. It will be great to have him back.
(On what he thought when he went back and saw the pass to Doug Baldwin in the end zone) Well, they switched off. I don’t know if they meant to or they did it on the fly but they switched off and bumped into him, knocked him off course. It was not a major hit but he couldn’t get to the ball because he got knocked so that means to me that he was interfered with trying to make the catch. I don’t know how the league will come back on that one but as incidental as it is, it still got in the way of him making a clean shot at catching the football and the ball was thrown inbounds and all that so it wasn’t clearly overthrown or anything like that so I don’t know. I have no explanation of it but it was a mistake to bump into him. They weren’t trying to do that but it happened and he was on his way to catching a touchdown pass so it’s unfortunate.
(On how he evaluates the passing game performance yesterday overall) Well, we were really close to having a game that would have been very satisfactory. We had a chance to get a couple touchdown shots down there when we were close and if any of those happened or if both of them happened – we’re in great shape. I think it was a resourceful game like we’ve seen Russell [Wilson] play. He made the most of his opportunities to get out of the pocket and picked up really valuable yardage. We were close to being 50% on third-downs so that’s close to a day that we shoot for. It could always be better. We could always take more advantages of shots. We had guys open that we didn’t quite get the ball to that we need to but all in all, we were in position to win the football game, and we just need to catch the ball and throw the ball and get that done.
(On if James Carpenter will play this week) Carp has a real chance too. Yeah, he’s excited about his opportunity to get back. He’s going to try and go Wednesday. We will see what that means.
(On if it is still true that they got out of the game without any injuries other than Max Unger) Yeah, it looks like it. The guys that went in that were coming off injuries all came out in pretty good shape, Jeremy Lane and some of the guys. Brock [Coyle] looks like he will be able to get back this week as well so we will see how that goes. [Marcus] Burley has a chance too so we could have decisions to make on the final roster which is a good thing and we will see if we can get to that.
(On how Marshawn Lynch is doing and he if refers to him as banged up) Yeah, he’s just been banged up. It’s classic wear and tear on a guy that plays the game the way he plays. We had to give him an extra day last week before we practiced him and we will see how it goes this week. I think it’s pretty typical and he’s been one to really be able to endure it over the past few years.
(On what caused Marshawn Lynch to stay out at halftime) He had a little episode there—he tightened up. He’s had back issues well before we ever got him. He’s always been able to manage it. It’s really ever kept him out of one game in our history but it’s an ongoing process for him and he knows it better than any of us and he knows how to deal with it. He’s been able to get through it so he got worked and stretched the whole time trying to get ready. He came out and played like crazy again in the second half. He had a fantastic football game—he was lights out.
(On reading anything into Marshawn Lynch not going in the locker room at halftime) No—he was just trying to survive the day. He was trying to get through it so he could play for his team and it worked out. He had a good first half and he came back and ripped it in the second half as well so it was a good plan.
(On Max Unger injury being season-ending) We don’t know that yet. We have to wait and see how he responds—high ankle sprains are all different. Luke [Willson] had a second degree high ankle sprain in practice on Wednesday. So that’s way off the charts for these usually and usually they can linger so you don’t know how they come back. Max hasn’t had one of these before so it’s the first time through it and he’ll have to figure it out as we go. It’s a second degree sprain so it’s legit and we have to take care of him.
(On how Kam Chancellor played) He played solid ball—the ball kind of stayed away from him a lot. It wasn’t coming his way much, but he got through the game and he was chasing the football a lot.
(On how Malcolm Smith played) A little rusty—a couple tackles he could have made, a couple fits that he could have had, and missing adjustments. He wasn’t as sharp as he would be—we kind of understand that he’s coming back out so he’ll play a lot better. He had some good hits and got going once the game got going, and he needed to kind of get going again and he did.
(On possibly Lemuel Jeanpierre being an option to sign) He’s been out there for some time—we know he’s out there. So of course he is—everybody is an option.
(On how hard are the next games coming up) It’s a one game-shot right now—we got to go get Arizona. These guys are flying high and we got to see if we can find a way to stop them and score on these guys. Then, we’ll take it to the next one—I’m really excited about the way this thing sets up. I think most of the people should be with all of the drama still out there about the division. I don’t know if everybody’s schedule worked out this way but we’re as loaded as you can get down the stretch and it’ll be exciting for everyone.
(On did he second guess himself on any of the 4th downs) Well yeah—I would have liked to have converted on them and try something else. The situation down there to go for it with time left on the clock was a thought that, ‘I’ve been in this situation before where—if you don’t make it you put the defense back out there with them backed up in a game that’s that close, usually it’s a big challenge for the offense to get out because they’re concerned about making a mistake down there.’ So we took advantage of that after we didn’t convert and we get the ball at mid-field and here we go again with plenty of time left. So that was really the plan—we had two good shots to win the football game with great field position and unfortunately they did a great job of keeping us out of the end zone.
(On Tony Moeaki) Well it was really exciting for him get a chance to score—he ran a perfect route and Russell [Wilson] delivered a perfect ball to him in that situation. He’s just getting going and we’re going to lean on him more. We think he could be a factor to help us—he was in and out of the game and didn’t get many chances to get the ball his way but he will as we move ahead. We’re real excited about him.
(On Doug Baldwin being the kickoff returner) We’ll see—he had a couple nice shots at it. We just want to make sure that we’re using all of our weapons and we’ll just go back to competing for it this week.
(On teams similarly attacking with shorter passes) They didn’t push the ball down field much—they were very productive with the running game early on so that allows you to stay with that, but you can tell that they weren’t out to throw the ball all over the field, they wanted to see if they could run it. I don’t know what gave them that thought because we had been playing the run pretty well but they were right on that—they had a good day on it. Yes—it was similar and the difference was we did a terrific job of taking the ball off of them. The two turnovers that led to 10 points should have been the big difference in this game—generally it is, it’s rare when it isn’t. Those were both turnovers that I was really fired up about and that’s what they were trying to avoid. They were trying to avoid the big turnovers and the big plays that can change the game and they were able to withstand them to their credit.