Just in time for their biggest game so far this season -- and then the next biggest game four days later at San Francisco -- the Seahawks' injury report looks better.
Though Max Unger's loss at center is huge coach Pete Carroll said following this afternoon's indoor practice that Lemuel Jeanpierre, Unger's backup for the previous three seasons Seattle re-signed off an injury settlement on Tuesday, has surprised the team with how in shape he is and how ready he is to play Sunday's must-win home game against Arizona.
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Carroll wouldn't say whether Jeanpierre or fourth-string fill-in Patrick Lewis will start at center against the Cardinals. Lewis played the final nine minutes for Unger at Kansas City last weekend after the starter got hurt in the fourth quarter. Carroll said Jeanpierre is ready to play center or guard.
He may have to play guard. James Carpenter is questionable with his sprained ankle that's had him out since he got hurt Nov. 2 against Oakland.
My sense is Jeanpierre will start at center -- the Seahawks and line coach Tom Cable trust him -- and Alvin Bailey will again start for Carpenter. Bailey has played well while Carpenter's been hurt.
Bobby Wagner will make his first start since he tore a toe/foot ligament and broke the sensamoid bone in a tendon in his right foot Oct. 12 against Dallas. Carroll said the team is going to have to be smart with monitoring how many plays Wagner gets in his first game back.
"You take him out. Really, we will take him out," Carroll said, when I replied that may be hard to do. "We will know how many plays he’s playing and see how it’s going. Like I said earlier in the week, he’s in great shape. He really worked hard to be in great condition so we don’t think that’s a factor. We just want to watch and see how he plays and see what happens.
Wagner says he's going to be full go.
"I'm not planning to conserve energy," he said. "I'm planning to go out there and make as many plays and as many tackles I can make over the 60 minutes of the game."
Wagner being back is going to be huge for the Seahawks' defense, which got steamrolled by the Chiefs with 190 yards rushing last week, has been mixing and matching with usual outside linebacker K.J. Wright and undrafted rookie Brock Coyle at middle linebacker while Wagner's been out. Wright will now go back to outside linebacker, and Coyle goes back to special teams.
That plus the fact Carroll says strong safety Kam Chancellor is as healthy as he's been all year after getting two games off earlier this month to rest bone spurs in his ankles and a groin injury leaves the Seahawks with 10 of 11 defensive starters healthy and available for the first time since the fifth game of the season, that Cowboys game. The exception is nose tackle Brandon Mebane. He is out for the year with a torn hamstring.
Carroll said Travian Robertson had a good week of practice after signing on Tuesday off Atlanta practice squad. Even though the 320-pound nose tackle hasn't played in a game since August the Seahawks are going to play him there Sunday.
Here's all of what Carroll had to say today:
Head Coach Pete Carroll
November 21, 2014
(On how preparation went this week) It went well. We had a very good week. It’s a difficult team to prepare for. They do a lot of good stuff. They’re very aggressive with their defense so we are challenged by that so we had to have a really good solid week of learning and communicating and all that and we feel like we did a good job and we’re ready to go.
(On if Bobby Wagner made it through the week okay) Yeah, Bobby is going to play. We’re really excited to have him back.
(On if he will limit Bobby Wagner’s reps or is it at full go) You’ll have to wait and see.
(On if he will go with Patrick Lewis or Lemuel Jeanpierre at center on Sunday) Both of those guys are ready to play. We will show you at game time.
(On how you limit at guy like Bobby Wagner in a game) You take him out. Really, we will take him out. We will know how many plays he’s playing and see how it’s going. Like I said earlier in the week, he’s in great shape. He really worked hard to be in great condition so we don’t think that’s a factor. We just want to watch and see how he plays and see what happens.
(On what boost comes with Bobby Wagner coming back to the lineup and K.J. Wright going back to his normal position) It’s good. It’s good for K.J. [Wright] as well. K.J. spent a lot of time playing at the Will-backer spot so he has played all three spots this year for us and done really well, very versatile player. But this is good for him, yeah.
(On if Lemuel Jeanpierre had much rust to shake off) He came back really sharp, surprising that he would be able to retain so much but he was on it, very confident and demonstrated that so he’s ready to go.
(On James Carpenter) He was limited at the end of the week here. He had a little more work yesterday than we could get him today. We had to hold him out and we will see all the way up to game time with him.
(On what he wants to see from the offense that he hasn’t necessarily seen these last weeks) We’re going to be challenged to pick up the pressure. This is a big blitzing team and we need to do a good job of handling it. Hopefully we can get the ball out the way we want to and get the one-on-ones matched up the way we want to. We will see how that goes. They’ve been playing everybody really well and we’re going to see if we can change that.
(On Marshawn Lynch’s situation) He did fine today. He’s ready to go.
(On if Marshawn Lynch is anymore banged up than the other weeks) We’re fine about it. He’s made it through. We’re adjusting the days as we need to, to accommodate and he got through it fine. He looks like he’s ready. He’s either ready or he isn’t so he’s ready to go.
(On what has been the most challenging, frustrating or surprising thing to deal with this season) We’ve been really close in every one of these games and could have won every one of them and had the ball to win from the San Diego game on down, the ones that got away from us. We will find out at the end of the season how impacting those games were. Last year, we had games that were very similar and we didn’t get them all and we will see what the count shows when we get to the end of this thing. I think that’s been most frustrating, that we were so close to being on the other end of the spectrum right here, with a play here or there and it seems like there’s a big distance when you’re on the good side or that or the bad side of that so that’s been frustrating.
(On Marcus Burley) He won’t make it.
(On the league telling him that they made the wrong call on the play in the end zone) Every week we turn in plays that we challenge and we did it again. I said that to somebody yesterday – that there were a couple rulings in particular that should have gone the other way.
(On what’s the value of the league telling you that other than frustration) There’s no value in it. There’s no value in it at all. They don’t get them all right and hopefully they will. I hope they do a great job this week. Every play is going to count, just like last week. Any one of those plays would have made a difference in the game and we need all the good fortune that we can get.
(On with Lemuel Jeanpierre’s experience, if he knows who will play center between him and Patrick Lewis) We’re going to wait that out until game time. He’s ready to play though and we will not hesitate to play him and we will make the call here on game day.
(On if Lemuel Jeanpierre will play at center or guard) He can play both. He practiced at both.
(On Kevin Pierre-Louis) He won’t make it.
(On if Kevin Pierre-Louis was hurt in the Kansas City game) Yes, his shoulder.
(On Brock Coyle) Brock had a great week. He’s ready to go. He took every snap.
(On Demarcus Dobbs) He’s hobbled right now. He’s doubtful going in so we will see what happens.
(On if Travian Robertson looks like he will be ready to play on Sunday) He’s going to be ready to play. He has to, if we need him. If he’s activated, he will be ready to go. He looked good in practice. He’s a big dude. He felt very comfortable picking the stuff up, you line up on the center on either this side or that side and he got that down really well and he’s ready. He can do it.
(On what he needs to see on defense that maybe he hasn’t seen yet) Well, we always want to see the football. We want to get that ball. Plus five (turnover ratio), it doesn’t seem like we’re plus five, we have to keep that going. To have a good finish to this season, we’re going to probably have to get into double digits in the turnover ratio and so that means it’s got to come to us. We’re at five now and we have to get more. We haven’t had enough activity on the ball to feel like we’re really in command of it like we have in the past. So we’re going to see if we can really turn it up and take it away.
(On if he has seen Kam Chancellor improve now that he’s been back a couple of weeks) Yeah, he’s at the best that’s he’s been. He’s quick, he’s determined. He’s really on it. He didn’t miss a snap. This is the best week of preparation coming off a game that he’s had so that’s a really good sign.
(On if he thinks the championship mentality that they bring week to week helps when the team has a bump in the road) Hopefully, it’s designed for that though. Regardless of what’s happened in the past. Every game is the biggest game that we could possibly prepare for and we put everything into it and go for it and then we crank it back up again. In that, there is no game that is different for us because we’re doing everything that we can possibly do. That’s been a mantra for a long time. It’s a discipline that you have to own to do that and hopefully it will pay off. It certainly is poignant now. It’s a great matchup.
(On Marshawn Lynch’s future with the team) If you guys ever would have asked me which you didn’t. If you ever would have asked me, I would have said we want him around here for as long as he can play and there’s never been any hesitation. There’s never been another thought about that. That came totally from somewhere else. He’s under contract next year. We will be thrilled to have him playing for us next year so we will do everything we can to get that done.