Focus on: Max Unger

Posted Oct 9, 2013

The Seahawks’ offense simply hasn't been the same the past two games without Max Unger. But the All-Pro center returned to practice in full on Wednesday and it’s looking like he’ll be able to play in Sunday’s game against the Titans.

Max Unger was back where he belongs Wednesday, and where the Seahawks need him.

The All-Pro center participated in his first full practice since injuring an arm in the Week 3 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars, which forced him to sit out the past two games. If Unger’s efforts were any indication, he’ll be ready to play in Sunday’s game against the Tennessee Titans at CenturyLink Field.

“We’re kind of counting on him coming back this week,” coach Pete Carroll said before Unger had a larger role in practice than expected. “It’s really good to have him back.”

That’s taking nothing away from the job Lemuel Jeanpierre did while subbing for Unger.

“Lem did a fine job for us in filling in,” Carroll said. “But Max is really the guy that has the greatest command of what we’re doing up front and he’ll help other guys play well and make the right choices and decisions.”

Is that asking too much from one player, even one as good as Unger?

“Max is a great player,” right guard J.R. Sweezy said. “He’s on top of it. He knows this offense like the back of his hand. So it’s a good feeling knowing a guy like that is beside you. If you make a call that’s kind of half-and-half, he’s there to correct you. So it’s a good feeling.”

But even with Unger back, the Seahawks will continue to play without their tackles as Pro Bowler Russell Okung is on injured reserve with a designation to return because of a toe injury and right-side starter Breno Giacomini is out after having a surgical procedure on a bothersome knee.

Offensive line play is all about continuity and chemistry – five fingers forcing a fist, if you will. But the past two games, only Sweezy has been at the spot where he was intended to start. And he’s a second-year player who was converted from defensive tackle to offensive guard as a rookie.

Paul McQuistan has slid over from left guard to replace Okung at left tackle, and been replaced at guard by James Carpenter. Rookie Michael Bowie is starting for Giacomini.

That’s why the significance of getting Unger back is being magnified.

“Max will help the quarterback in identification,” Carroll said. “Which is important, and which we have missed some over the last couple weeks periodically and it’s made a difference in our pass protection. We’re counting on that shoring up a little more so. We need our team leaders and a guy like Max coming back is a big deal to us.”