When Pro Bowl center
The current system of OTAs that the team concluded on a cloudy Thursday at Virginia Mason Athletic Center was a creation of the Collective Bargaining Agreement that ended the 136-day lockout in 2011.
|OTA 9 HIGHLIGHTS |
Defensive player of the day:
Defensive play of the day: In addition to Simon, cornerbacks
Offensive player of the day:
Offensive play of the day: Wilson passed for three touchdowns, while Jackson and
Special teams player of the day:
“Special” teams play of the day: At the conclusion of practice, coach Pete Carroll had center Max Unger and nose tackle
But OTAs aren’t the only new wrinkle that differentiates the 5-11 Seahawks team Unger was on as a rookie and the one that will look to defend the first Super Bowl championship in franchise history during the rapidly approaching 2014 NFL season.
Unger is reminded of that fact every time he walks down the hall to the video department. On the wall are photos of each of the Seahawks’ first 37 teams – no photo of the Super Bowl champion 2013 team, yet.
“There’s a picture hanging up and it’s interesting just to see the transition in the roster from six years ago to what it is now,” Unger said after yet another spirited, competitive practice along the shores of Lake Washington. “It’s pretty different. But I’m very fortunate, obviously, to be able to still be here.”
The other two holdovers are nose tackle Brandon Mebane, a third-round draft choice in 2007; and punter
And it’s not surprising that they are the only three players remaining from the team coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider inherited in 2010. Unger has been voted to the Pro Bowl the past two seasons and also was selected All-Pro in 2012. Mebane ranks second among interior linemen in the NFC with 157 tackles the past three seasons. Ryan has rewritten the franchise punting records in his six seasons.
So Unger obviously finds himself surrounded by newer – and younger – players on the offensive line: Pro Bowl-caliber left tackle
“Carp looks good,” Unger said of the guard who lines up to his left. “He’s been playing very well. He came in in awesome shape and he’s been here working very, very hard. We’re expecting quite a bit out of him this season.”
The same could be said of Unger because, regardless of who else is on the line and which back is carrying the ball, a lot of what the Seahawks do on offense centers around Unger.
Unger is one of six players born in 1986, along with wide receiver
“Older, not old,” Unger said with a laugh when asked about his senior status. “There’s always more you can learn. You have coaches who spend about 20 hours a day in this building, every day. They can teach us quite a bit.”
Including Unger’s position coach – Tom Cable, who’s also the assistant head coach.
“One of the best O-line coaches in the NFL,” Unger said. “Just listening to him in our meetings. Just kind of walks us through our game plan, you just try to pick up more and more of it up every time you go – formations, what the running back does, what the receivers do, this and that. There’s always more you can learn.”
And there’s even some give that comes with the take in their relationship.
“Thanks coach. How’s it going?” Unger cracked. “Snohomish High grad. What year were you? What year – 1950-what?”
Actually, it was the SHS Class of 1982. But when the laughter subsided, Unger shed some light on the tricks he uses to retain his edge. He’s usually the leader of the linemen pack as they go from one drill to another. He’s also one of the first to grab the bags and pads the linemen use in those drills.
“As you get older, I guess, a little bit, you really have to maintain your play,” he said. “Doing stuff like that I think helps keep you sharp. That’s the name of the game – just being consistent. So if you go out and do the same things that you’ve done to get to this point in your career, why change?”
Unger’s lead is one the younger players – and not just the linemen – would be wise to follow.