The Seahawks have arrived from the airport to their hotel here in was-sunny (now-dark) and pleasant San Jose. They are down the freeway from Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., site of tomorrow night's NFC West showdown against the 49ers.
Before they left team headquarters today coach Pete Carroll gave strong hints Lemuel Jeanpierre will start at center tomorrow. I see that as a huge boost to the line's communication
and thus its pass protection. Coaches have liked how fourth-stringer Patrick Lewis has blocked. But as you have seen the last two games when quarterback Russell Wilson has had to go lineman to lineman before snaps to confirm protection calls injured starter Max Unger usually nails with cool efficiency before every snap, communication has been an issue. It's why two linemen erroneously blocked the same pass rusher while another sprinted untouched after Wilson soon after he began his drop to throw many times last weekend against Arizona. The Cardinals sacked Wilson seven times in that game.
Jeanpierre had been Unger's backup the previous three seasons before a neck-stinger nerve injury got him on Seattle's injured-reserve list in September, and then an injury settlement into free agency a week later. So he knows line coach Tom Cable's and Wilson's calls infinitely better than does Lewis, the former Green Bay Packer who joined the Seahawks only three months ago, got released and then got re-signed.
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The Seahawks re-signed Jeanpierre last week, then deemed he wasn't quite ready to play his first game since mid-August last weekend. So Lewis started while Unger remained out with his high-ankle sprain and twisted knee that will sideline him for a couple more games.
"He seems to be back in the groove. He seems to be very comfortable. He’s ready to play," Carroll said of Jeanpierre. "He will play more than he did last week."
Considering Jeanpierre didn't play an offensive snap last weekend, that suggests he's starting.
--Carroll said Marshawn Lynch has bounced back well in these three days since he ran 15 times for 39 yards with a sore back against Arizona. The fact the Seahawks had three straight walkthrough practices helped Lynch, who was limited in the first two of those. Lynch has now been limited for the first two practice days in each of the last three game weeks, but has 303 yards rushing and four touchdowns in the last three games. He has missed just one game in his five seasons with Seattle, on Oct. 23, 2011, at Cleveland when he back tightened in pregame warmups too much for him to play.
"He had a really good week," Carroll said. "The tempo really helped him get through and he came out of last week feeling pretty good so he’s in good shape for this week."
Here is the Seahawks' injury report issued before the team boarded their 90-or-so-minute flight here:
--If Jeremy Lane can't go at nickel back, Marcus Burley will be the fifth defensive back on passing downs.
--No, 3 tight end Cooper Helfet didn't make the trip here. He had the two biggest plays of last weekend's win over Arizona, a touchdown catch that made it 19-3 and a WWE-style tackle at the end of teammate DeShawn Shead's blocked punt. His absence means an even larger role for recently signed tight end Tony Moeaki, who had four catches last week and a touchdown at Kansas City two games ago. Wilson keeps praising Moeaki for how skilled he is catching the ball.
--Reserve defensive end Demarcus Dobbs worked out his sore knee today and Carroll said the team is expecting the former 49er to play tomorrow.
--San Francisco's starting right tackle Anthony Davis is out because of a concussion. That means former Miami starter Jonathan Martin will start again on the right end of the line. And that means left end Michael Bennett and weak-side linebacker Bruce Irvin are likely to come flying in at Martin off Seattle’s defensive left edge.
The 49ers also listed as out TE Derek Carrier (foot) and DT Glenn Dorsey (forearm).
49ers questionable: CB Tramaine Brock (hamstring), WR Bruce Ellington (ankle), TE Vance McDonald (back).
49ers probable: RB Frank Gore (knee), WR Brandon Lloyd (quadricep), DE Ray McDonald (knee), RB Bruce Miller (shoulder), S Eric Reid (ankle), DE Justin Smith (back), S Raymond Ventrone (groin).
--Here is all of what Carroll said today:
Head Coach Pete Carroll
November 26, 2014
(On the short week and if the excitement of Thanksgiving week helped with preparation) Yes, this has been a fun week, having to bounce right back and adjust the schedule and get cranked up for a tremendous opportunity playing on Thanksgiving and all of that. We’re very fortunate. Our guys had a great time with it. They’re pumped up. Really, they forgot they played a game and got going in practice yesterday. You would never think that you could get back that quick so they did a nice job. We’re ready to go. We’re looking forward to it.
(On if he would like to use last week’s type of play as a spring board for this next game) We would like to carry on. We would like to carry on with the feeling that we played with last week and we have a lot of areas to get better and improve at. That’s at hand right now. We have to keep improving throughout the schedule and there were some areas that were really clear but we would like to pick up where we left off. We would like to do that.
(On if there is a lot that can be different each time when you play the same team a lot) Yeah, there really is. The coaches, we have a lot of opportunity and flexibility to do stuff as they do too and as we learned, we always keep progressing hopefully so the games don’t come out the same necessarily at all but we know it’s going to be hard fought. We know it’s a very tough matchup. We have a lot of respect and so those parts of it will certainly be there.
(On Marshawn Lynch) He had a really good week. The tempo really helped him get through and he came out of last week feeling pretty good so he’s in good shape for this week.
(On how much further along Lemuel Jeanpierre is this week compared to last week) He seems to be back in the groove. He seems to be very comfortable. He’s ready to play. He will play more than he did last week.
(On James Carpenter) Carpenter has a chance to get back in there. He had a good week. He was able to do everything in the short week. Like we said last week, he was so close to playing. I think the move to hold him out gave him a shoo-in to be able to play for us this week.
(On now having multiple players who can rotate into Max Unger’s spot) Yeah, it does. It does help us. Whenever you’re challenged like this, Alvin Bailey’s challenge is to move around and to do some different things for us; it just makes us better and gives us more flexibility. Patrick [Lewis] did a really nice job last week and we’re comfortable with him playing as well as Lemuel.
(On Cooper Helfet) Cooper is not traveling. He’s out for this game.
(On Kevin Pierre-Louis’s status) We’re just going to go next week and keep checking and see how he improves and see if we can make some progress – enough to determine if he can stay with us for the rest of the year.
(On if he has any theories on why they are so successful at playing primetime games) We take these games very seriously, like we always do. We have a way that we prepare that has worked out. Hopefully it can work out one more time.
(On Kam Chancellor getting NFC defensive player of the week) Yeah, I think that’s probably a recognition for the play of the whole group and he would probably be the first to tell you that. He did play really well. He felt the best he’s felt all season and you can tell. You can see it in his play and that was recognized so we’re really fired up for that kind of attention for him.
(On Demarcus Dobbs) He’s working out as we speak. We’re planning on him playing. He made it through some practice time enough but we will still wait until game time to make the final decision.
(Closing) Happy Thanksgiving everybody. Have a great weekend. We’re really fortunate to be playing and be a part of everybody’s Thanksgiving so we’re hopefully going to do a great job. But really, send it out everywhere and it’s a very meaningful time of year. We’re really happy to be in the middle of it all so we’re going to have a lot of fun with it. Happy Thanksgiving.