Focus on: Paul McQuistan

Posted Sep 18, 2013

With Pro Bowl left tackle Russell Okung out with the toe injury he got in Sunday night’s home opener, Paul McQuistan once again slides over from left guard for this week’s game against the Jaguars.

Tom Cable has referred to Paul McQuistan as the glue that holds the Seahawks’ offensive line together.

Now, the team’s sage offensive line coach is turning to McQuistan to fix the hole on the left side of the line. Pro Bowl left tackle Russell Okung was ruled out Wednesday for Sunday’s game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at CenturyLink Field, so McQuistan will slide over from left guard to replace him – just as he did after Okung left the home opener with a toe injury.

“You wouldn’t do it unless you’re comfortable,” Cable said after practice on Wednesday when asked about moving McQuistan outside.

And Cable also had other issues to juggle on Wednesday, when Okung was off getting a second opinion on his toe – which will factor into how long he’ll be sidelined.

With McQuistan at left tackle, James Carpenter was at left guard – again, just as he was after Okung left the game against the defending NFC Champion San Francisco 49ers. But right guard J.R. Sweezy did not practice because of a back problem, so Lemuel Jeanpierre stepped in for him. And right tackle Breno Giacomini was limited because of sore knee, so rookie Michael Bowie got snaps with the No. 1 line in his place.

But the spotlight in all this shuffling was shining directly on McQuistan, what with the Seahawks facing pass-rush specialists Jason Babin this week against the Jaguars and J.J. Watt next week when they travel to Houston to face the Texans.

The two people least concerned with that scenario are McQuistan and Cable.

“The timing is a little bit different. The footwork is a little different,” McQuistan said. “But other than that, it’s the same scheme. So just go play.”

Offered Cable, “He’s always done that in his career. He’s always been a guard/tackle. So there’s a lot of background there. And he did a really nice job for not taking any snaps, getting us through the game and out of the game.”

On the plus side, McQuistan moved over cold against the 49ers and pass-rush specialist Aldon Smith. This week, he’ll have all the first-team reps at the pivotal left tackle spot to prepare.

“It has its challenges,” McQuistan said of sliding outside in the middle of a game. “But going in I knew I’d be the swing guy if something happened to one of the tackles. So I had that mindset going in.”

Talk to the other linemen about McQuistan and they point to his football smarts that allow him to know what every lineman is supposed to do on any given play, not just his assignment.

“I think it’s big,” McQuistan said his preparation helping with what seemed like such a difficult transition. “You study and prepare the same, but other than that it’s just the next guy in. You’re familiar with what they want you to do.”

And it’s not like this is the first time McQuistan has been called upon to play left tackle. He started the final four games there in 2011, when Okung was out with a torn pectoral muscle.

In the season opener this year, McQuistan and Carpenter split time at left guard. So Sunday was the first time they had been the tandem on the left side. And it was Carpenter’s longest stint since the middle of last season.

“James did some really cool things, and then he’s got four or five plays that you would like to do over but you can’t,” Cable said. “But by and large, he did some really good things.”