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Seahawks’ line includes a pair of unsung heroes in Paul McQuistan and Breno Giacomini

Posted Jul 1, 2013

All-Pro center Max Unger and Pro Bowl left tackle Russell Okung get most of the attention when it comes to the Seahawks’ offensive line. But right tackle Breno Giacomini and guard Paul McQuistan also are playing their parts in the offensive success.


The line that helped the Seahawks run for a club-record 2,579 yards and rank No. 3 in rushing offense in the NFL during the 2012 season had an All-Pro center in the middle, a Pro Bowl blocker at the all-important left tackle spot and one of the more intriguing stories in franchise history at right guard.

But there’s more to this unit than that best-in-the-biz center (Max Unger), healthy-and-playing-to-his-potential left tackle (Russell Okung) and college defensive lineman who started three regular-season games and both playoff games during his rookie season at right guard (J.R. Sweezy).

CLOSER LOOK AT THE O-LINE

Linemen on the 90-man roster: 15

Linemen carried on the 53-man roster last year: 9, with seven active on game day

Incumbent starters: LT Russell Okung, LG Paul McQuistan, C Max Unger, RG J.R. Sweezy, RT Breno Giacomini

Incumbent backups: OG/C John Moffitt, C/OG Lemuel Jeanpierre, OT Mike Person, OG Rishaw Johnson

Finished season on reserve/non-football illness: OG/OT James Carpenter

Draft choices: OG Ryan Seymour (seventh round), C Jared Smith (seventh), OT Michael Bowie (seventh)

Rookie free agents: OT Jake Bscherer, OT Alvin Bailey

Keep an eye on: Carpenter. He was selected in the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft to play right tackle. General manager John Schneider envisions Carpenter as a “road-grater” of a left guard. But he can’t be either without getting healthy, and Carpenter missed the OTA and minicamp practices after having arthroscopic knee surgery this spring. Asked if he expects Carpenter back for the start of training camp practices later this month, coach Pete Carroll said, “That’s a real shot. Carp has done well. I think by that time that’s not too much to ask at all for Carp. We have to get him in shape, and that’s the hardest part when he can just do the rehab work. But he is running now and so he’s ready to make a big push, I would think in the next month, to show how far he can take it.” If Carpenter can step in at left guard, it would allow McQuistan to compete for a starting job on the right side or give Cable a quality backup at several positions.

As this Seahawks team prepares for what might be the most-anticipated season of any Seahawks team, don’t forget about right tackle Breno Giacomini and Paul McQuistan, who started 10 games at right guard and six at left guard last season.

They might not get the recognition that came to Unger and Okung last season, or the notoriety that tracked Sweezy’s remarkable transition, but Giacomini and McQuistan were – and remain – vital pieces in the offensive puzzle.

Just ask Tom Cable, the Seahawks’ assistant head coach who coaches the offensive line.

Let’s start with the 6-foot-7, 315-pound Giacomini. He was signed off the Green Bay Packers’ practice squad in September of 2010, the season before Cable arrived.

“I knew the name. I didn’t know a lot about him,” Cable said. “But right away you could see that he has a skill set that was pretty cool; just had to refine it to fit our system. We did that, he took to it and every time you coached him he’d just get a little better and a little better.

“Then, opportunity knocked. He gets a chance to go in and play right tackle a bunch and he just took it and ran with it. And he did a fantastic job.”

That was in 2011, when Giacomini, a converted tight end who didn’t become a full-time tackle until his senior season at Louisville, started the final seven games because first-round draft choice James Carpenter severely damaged a knee ligament during a mid-week practice. When Carpenter wasn’t ready at the start of the 2012 season, Giacomini was – and he was available because the team re-signed him during the offseason before he could test the free-agent market.

“The cool thing is, Breno has proved that he deserves to be in there somewhere,” Cable said.

So has McQuistan, who was signed to a future contract in January of 2011 – 10 days after Cable was hired. McQuistan started 10 games that season – three at left guard; three at right guard; and the last four at left tackle, after Okung got a season-ending injury.

McQuistan has been in the league for seven seasons, so the most-telling tidbit in his tale might be that 32 of his 38 career starts have been under Cable – 26 games the past two seasons with the Seahawks and six with the Oakland Raiders in 2007, when Cable was their line coach.

“He’s kind of the glue, that’s the way I look at him,” Cable said. “Paul has been so valuable. He has played multiple positions the last two years. He never misses a beat. It’s just that his wisdom and experience are so valuable for those young guys in there. So he truly has been the glue in that (meeting) room, without a doubt.”

For example? “Paul is a great, great listener,” Sweezy said. “He’ll bring stuff up in meetings that was something somebody mentioned months ago and it’s perfect for what we’re talking about at that moment. He remembers everything. It’s really impressive.”

The Seahawks have compiled other linemen – including Carpenter and guard John Moffitt with their top two picks in the 2011 NFL Draft and three more in the seventh round of this year’s draft. And competition is what coach Pete Carroll’s program is all about.

But while it was injuries that forced Giacomini and McQuistan into the Seahawks’ starting lineup, it has been their under-the-radar efforts that are keeping them there.