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 brought-back center Lemuel Jeanpierre are inseparable by comparison.
Never miss a local story.
Both played collegiately at South Carolina, Jeanpierre two years older than Robertson.
“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 day since Seattle signed him Tuesday off the practice squad of the Atlanta Falcons. “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 Brandon Mebane as run stuffer. Jeanpierre re-signed Tuesday following a September injury settlement to backfill 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 Seattle called Monday afternoon with a place on the active roster of a Super Bowl champion instead.
“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 they wanted me, they would have had me up."
"Up," as in, on the Falcons' 53-man active roster already.
“Once they found out," Robertson said, "a lot of people were upset that I was gone.”
Robertson played 12 games the previous two seasons for Atlanta but has been on its practice squad all this season -- until now. He has arrived to try to fill the run-stuffing role Mebane was doing this season as well as he has in his eight-year career – until two games ago when he tore his hamstring against the New York Giants.
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, the 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 was also in a hurry to re-join the team for which he’s played all 52 of his NFL games, with eight starts when Unger’s 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 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.
--Carroll says he expects 285-pound FB Will Tukuafu to continue to play on offense and at defensive end, as he did after newly signed Demarcus Dobbs hurt his knee 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.