The Seattle Seahawks are going to be without their offensive line’s vital anchor for perhaps a month.
It appears they are about to bring back a familiar center to replace him.
Coach Pete Carroll said Monday two-time Pro Bowl center Max Unger is likely to miss three or four weeks — more than half of Seattle’s all-important remaining games in the regular season. Unger has a high ankle sprain and twisted knee. He got bent backward with his legs planted in the Arrowhead Stadium turf on Sunday, the key injury late in the Seahawks’ 24-20 loss at the Kansas City Chiefs.
“It looks like it’s a three-week, four-week type of deal … It’s a second-degree sprain, so it’s legit,” Carroll said, ruling Unger out for Sunday’s mammoth home game against NFC West-leading Arizona (9-1).
The Seahawks’ offense that had been chewing up yards rushing for two games with Unger back in the middle of the line suddenly stalled Sunday when he got hurt with nine minutes remaining and Seattle inside the Chiefs’ 10, poised for the go-ahead score. Fourth-string center Patrick Lewis, signed and released early this season and re-signed recently, finished the game.
The Seahawks had 20 points and were averaging 6.2 yards per play, including 5.8 yards per rush, with Unger in. They had zero points, 1.8 yards per play and 1.3 yards per rush after he got hurt.
“Max is a very integral part of our team,” left tackle and line neighbor Russell Okung said Sunday.
So Seattle (6-4) may not exactly be comfortable with Lewis starting the must-win game Sunday against the soaring Cardinals and their rampaging defense at CenturyLink Field.
“We will see what we’re doing here in the next couple of days,” Carroll said. “We will let you know.”
Paging Lemuel Jeanpierre.
The Seahawks placed Unger’s backup of the past three seasons on injured reserve Sept. 3 for a neck injury. Weeks later, the Seahawks gave the 27-year-old, former undrafted free agent an injury settlement. That made him a free agent. Jeanpierre has since had a couple tryouts with NFL teams but remains unsigned.
That may change as soon as Tuesday when the Seahawks could sign Jeanpierre. The beauty of that is he conceivably could start on Sunday against Arizona. He knows the blocking system and calls of Seahawks line coach Tom Cable better than Lewis does.
When asked about the possibility of adding Jeanpierre now, Carroll said Monday: “He’s been out there for some time. We know he’s out there. So of course he is — everybody is an option.”
THE DEA FINDS SEAHAWKS COMPLIANT
Here is a follow-up to the Seahawks being visited by agents from the Drug Enforcement Agency on Sunday in a league-wide search for compliance to the Controlled Substances Act, part of a federal investigation relating to a lawsuit brought by former NFL players against the league’s use of painkillers.
The DEA agents’ search of bags and their interviews with the Seahawks’ medical staff occurred at Kansas City International Airport on the team’s way home following the game. Agents found the Seahawks to be in compliance with federal laws on controlled substances and the possession and dispersal of prescription medication.
Seattle joined Tampa Bay and San Francisco as the three visiting teams known to have gotten visits from the DEA Sunday. There were likely more and will be more, as the lawsuit investigation continues.
ESPN, the Washington Post and other outlets first reported Sunday the DEA made the surprise inspections and interviews of team doctors and trainers to determine whether they are violating federal drug laws in the administration of prescription painkillers.
ESPN reported Sunday’s inspections “were motivated by allegations raised in a May 2014 federal lawsuit, filed on behalf of several prominent NFL players, who allege team physicians and trainers routinely gave them painkillers in an illegal manner to mask injuries and keep them on the field.”
The Post reported a law enforcement official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the ongoing investigation, saying the probe “focuses on practices across the 32-team league, including possible distribution of drugs without prescriptions or labels, and the dispensing of drugs by trainers rather than physicians.”
Carroll repeated what he said Sunday in Kansas City following the game, that the reason running back Marshawn Lynch stayed outside in a 10-degree wind chill at Arrowhead Stadium during halftime while his teammates were in the locker room was to stretch his lower back. His back got massaged by a trainer throughout the first half.
“He had a little episode there; he tightened up. He’s had back issues well before we ever got him,” Carroll said of Lynch, acquired in 2010 in a trade with Buffalo. “He’s always been able to manage it. It’s really only ever kept him out of one game in our history, but it’s an ongoing process for him. And he knows it better than any of us and he knows how to deal with it.
“He got worked and stretched the whole time trying to get ready.”
Lynch followed his 140 yards rushing and a career-high four touchdowns against the Giants with 124 yards on the ground against the Chiefs.
Carroll shook his head and almost scoffed when asked about the perception raised in a report by the league-owned television network and website that Lynch was unhappy with the team or in some kind of protest mode by not being in the locker room at halftime.
“He was just trying to survive the day. He was trying to get through it so he could play for his team and it worked out,” Carroll said. “He came out and played like crazy again in the second half. He had a fantastic football game. He was lights out.”
MLB Bobby Wagner will practice Wednesday and has a good chance to play Sunday against Arizona for the first time since he got a turf-toe ligament injury Oct. 12 against Dallas, Carroll said. That would be a huge plus for a defense that had linebackers K.J. Wright in the middle and Malcolm Smith outside overrunning rushing lanes, missing tackles and getting blocked as Kansas City rushed for 190 yards, the most against the Seahawks this season. … Carroll said LG James Carpenter has “a real chance” to play against the Cardinals. Carpenter sprained his ankle in the second half of the win over Oakland Nov. 2. Alvin Bailey has played well the past two games for Carpenter.