A twin peek

Posted Sep 20, 2011

With left guard Robert Gallery sidelined by a groin injury, the Seahawks will turn to Paul McQuistan for Sunday's home opener – and his twin brother, Pat, will be at CenturyLink Field to watch him.

Tuesday was like any other “off” day in Paul McQuistan’s sixth-season NFL career. The veteran offensive lineman came in, worked out and then “got some film in,” as he put it, to prepare for this week’s game.

But this wasn’t just another Tuesday for McQuistan, because he’ll be the starter at left guard when the Seahawks host the Arizona Cardinals in their home opener at CenturyLink Field on Sunday.

It will be McQuistan’s first start since 2007, when he was with the Oakland Raiders. He’ll be starting because Robert Gallery is going to miss at least a month with a groin injury that will require surgery.

“The circumstances (aren’t ideal) with Robert going down,” McQuistan said. “But you’ve got to step in and do your job.”

Gallery, another ex-Raider, was signed as a free agent in July to bring some experience and leadership to an oh-so-young line that includes Russell Okung, last year’s first-round draft choice at left tackle; Max Unger, a second-round pick in 2009 who’s in his first season as the fulltime starter at center; and a right side that includes this year’s top draft choices – James Carpenter at tackle and John Moffitt at guard.

Now, McQuistan inherits that role, even though he has started only 12 games the past five seasons.

“I’ve just got to go in there and make the impact and hopefully do the job and get the other guys going,” McQuistan said.

This sudden-starter status with the Seahawks is just the latest step in McQuistan’s West Coast ascension. He and his twin brother, Pat, were born in San Diego on April 30, 1983. But the family moved to Lebanon, Ore., when the twins were only a couple months old. Now, Paul is not only with the Seahawks, he’s starting the home opener.

His brother, who was released by the Tennessee Titans on the final roster cut this month, will be at CenturyLink on Sunday. So will their parents, as well as half a dozen other friends and family members.

The McQuistan brothers played on opposite ends of the line at Lebanon High School, when they weighed 237 pounds – Paul at one tackle, Pat at the other. They both went to Weber State, where Paul was the left tackle and Pat was next to him at left guard.

“That was pretty cool,” Paul said of forming an all-McQuistan left side for the Wildcats. “That was a fun time.”

Four seasons and 78 pounds later, the NFL came calling, and that’s when they went their separate ways – Paul to the Raiders as a third-round draft choice in 2006, Pat to the Dallas Cowboys in the seventh round. Paul started six games in each of his first two seasons with the Raiders, at right guard (2006) and right tackle (2007). He also has spent time with the Jacksonville Jaguars (2009) and Cleveland Browns (2010).

This will be Paul’s first regular-season game at the noise factory known as CenturyLink Field, but he was here for the Seahawks’ wild wild-card playoff victory over the Cowboys after the 2006 season because Pat was playing in Dallas.

Paul and Pat might be look-alike, play-alike twins, but they’re not totally identical. Paul is right-handed, Pat is a lefty.

“Growing up a twin definitely has its pluses,” Paul said. “You’ve always got somebody to compete against and do stuff with.”

But the family ties, even as tight as they are, take a backseat to what McQuistan must do this week – and that’s help the Seahawks get their offense going after they were shut out by the Steelers in Pittsburgh last Sunday and also in the first half of their opener in San Francisco.

“I’m excited for the opportunity,” Paul said. “Everyone in this locker room feels they have the capability of doing it, it’s just a matter of getting out there and doing it.”