With new starter Patrick Lewis hurting and former one Drew Nowak benched, the Seahawks have brought back veteran center Lemuel Jeanpierre.
Seattle re-signed since-traded center Max Unger’s backup on Tuesday, six weeks after it had released him and chosen Nowak and Lewis over him.
The other transactions Tuesday: Seattle officially made the move coach Pete Carroll had mentioned Monday, reinstating fullback Derrick Coleman off its suspended list. The Seahawks released cornerback Crezdon Butler, signed last week, and placed reserve linebacker Brock Coyle on injured reserve with the designation to return to play after eight weeks.
Jeanpierre was on the field for Tuesday’s practice for Thursday’s game at San Francisco.
Premium content for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
“We have Lem back now, so that’s good too, as well, in terms of experience and versatility,” quarterback Russell Wilson said.
Which begs the question: What took so long? Sure, the Seahawks let Jeanpierre go before the opening game so they didn’t have to guarantee his six-year veteran contract for this entire season. But since?
Lewis, acquired off waivers in August 2014 from Green Bay and again off Cleveland’s practice squad last fall before starting four games last season, had MRI exams this week on his ankle and knee. He hurt those while making his first start of the season last weekend in the loss to Carolina.
Nowak, a college defensive tackle and 2014 practice-squad guard, made his first five NFL starts to begin this season.
The Seahawks’ offensive line has been a problem since the Rams swarmed it in the opener at St. Louis last month. It has allowed 26 sacks in six games, the most in the NFL, and has been sporadic in opening rushing lanes consistantly. A contributing reason why Seattle (2-4) has blown two-score leads in the fourth quarters of the last two games has been the offense failing to get the first downs it needed to sustain drives, protect those leads late and likely win both games. Seattle had 15 net yards on the two drives after taking a 23-14 lead on Carolina last weekend. In that same span the Panthers scored two touchdowns to win.
Communication has been an issue all season, with the protection calls not always correct or timely or correctly disseminated by the center. No center short of Unger, now in New Orleans in the trade for tight end Jimmy Graham, knows line coach Tom Cable’s system and calls better than Jeanpierre. He started 11 games as Unger’s fill in from 2011-14.
Jeanpierre may not be ready to play Thursday. Lewis may not be, either. So it could be Nowak by default against the 49ers.
But the Seahawks have decided they needed more experience at center.