Unger back at it, ready to take on New England

seahawks: Star center needs to be at top of his game vs. Patriots’ DT Vince Wilfork

Staff writerOctober 13, 2012 

RENTON – Max Unger missed practice most of this week while rehabbing a sore hip, but he worked out with the team for the first time on Friday. And the Seattle Seahawks’ center appears to be ready to go for Sunday’s big matchup against New England.

Unger signed a four-year contract extension worth $25 million during the offseason, making him one of the highest-paid centers in the league.

Unger was listed as probable on Seattle’s injury report.

“Max is like an old vet for us so he can handle it as well as anybody,” Seattle coach Pete Carroll said. “You always need the practice time or we wouldn’t practice, but I think he can make do.

“He was in on everything and was making calls during the week and all of that. The physical side of it for those two days, he had to miss, but he didn’t miss the mental side so he should be OK.”

Unger confirmed to reporters after practice that his hip was all right and he was ready to go.

“Yeah, I’m good,” Unger said.

But if Unger can’t finish the game, Lemuel Jeanpierre would replace him at center. The South Carolina product started for Unger last season against Cleveland when Unger had a foot injury.

Unger will need to be at his best in dealing with New England defensive tackle Vince Wilfork, one of the best run-stuffers in the league. The four-time Pro Bowl selection has helped New England’s defense hold teams to 82.2 yards rushing, No. 8 in the league.

“It’s an NFL game,” Unger said about facing Wilfork. “Every player is the best player that you’ve ever played against. I think that’s the truth playing against defensive linemen in the NFL.”

Seattle’s defensive line will be a bit undermanned, with Brandon Mebane’s backup, Clinton McDonald, doubtful because of a groin injury, and rookie Jaye Howard unavailable for a second straight week because of a foot injury.

With only seven defensive linemen healthy, rookie Greg Scruggs could see significant action for the first time since suffering a wrist injury against Green Bay three weeks ago.

“Scruggs is ready to go,” Carroll said. “I’m anxious to see him play; he hasn’t been out there for a while, so we’re going to get him going a little bit.”

Carroll also clarified offensive lineman John Moffitt’s condition. The second-year pro aggravated a knee injury that cut short his rookie season last year, and will miss his third game this Sunday.

But Carroll said he expects Moffitt to be available in a few weeks, looking to the Detroit game on Oct 28 as a possible return for the former Wisconsin player.

“It was a little more serious than we thought,” Carroll said. “So we’re just making sure we’re taking care of him. We’re OK on the depth chart right now, so it’s working out that we can buy the time and not force him back too soon.”

MILLOY IN MIDDLE

Lawyer Milloy stopped by Seattle’s locker room to say hello to some of his former teammates on Friday. And he talked about the transformation Carroll made from the time Milloy played for him in New England, to when the University of Washington product rejoined him in Seattle.

“He’s still the same guy,” Milloy said. “But he also knows what he wants and what he needs to build a championship-caliber team, and he’ll do whatever it takes to get it done. And he knows that he has the organization and the GM’s (Seattle general manager John Schneider) backing to do those things.”

Milloy was drafted No. 36 overall by the Patriots in 1996, and spent his first seven NFL seasons in New England, winning a Super Bowl ring.

He remains close to New England players Deion Branch and Tom Brady.

But the Tacoma native played the last two seasons of his 16-year career for the hometown Seahawks, and still has several teammates he’s close to on the current roster.

So who’s Milloy pulling for on Sunday?

“I think they always have a shot as long as Tom Brady has the ball,” Milloy said about New England. “I have more relationships here in this locker room because I’m recently removed from a couple years ago.

“But this (Seattle) is the home team, so I always lean more toward the home team. That’s one thing about being retired, is that I’m non-denominational. I’m just an NFL fan. And I can’t get fined for the things I say, but also don’t want to lose relationships and friendships.”

Nudged a little, Milloy placed his allegiance with the Seahawks.

“The reason why I’m swinging more toward the Seahawks is because at home, I put my money on them at all times,” said Milloy, smiling. “And I’m not going to say another deciding factor for me is I got the Seahawks defense on my fantasy team.”

Milloy, who recently had his No. 26 jersey retired at Lincoln High in Tacoma, said he’s enjoying retirement. Milloy said he’s only attended two NFL games – Seattle’s contest against Green Bay a few weeks ago, and the AFC Championship game in New England last year. Milloy said he prefers to watch football on Sundays inside his man cave at home, dialed into every game.

“I played football for 25 years – so I don’t miss it at all,” Milloy said.

CLEMONS FINED

The NFL fined Chris Clemons $15,750 for a first-time offense (roughing the passer) for unnecessarily driving Carolina quarterback Cam Newton to the ground after he threw the ball down the field in the second quarter of last week’s game. Clemons drew a personal foul penalty on the play.

The 31-year-old Clemons is tied for sixth in the league for sacks, with 5.5.

Eric D. Williams: 253-597-8437 eric.williams@ thenewstribune.com @eric_d_williams blog.thenewstribune.com/seahawks/

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