Seattle Seahawks

Jeanpierre has inside track to Seahawks’ center job

Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson calls to his team as he prepares to take a snap from center Lemuel Jeanpierre last season against the 49ers. Jeanpierre started three games last season.
Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson calls to his team as he prepares to take a snap from center Lemuel Jeanpierre last season against the 49ers. Jeanpierre started three games last season. The Associated Press

The Seattle Seahawks may accomplish one of their biggest tasks of training camp — finding Max Unger’s replacement as starting center — soon.

That was according to offensive line coach Tom Cable on Monday.

“It’s starting to show itself,” the veteran leader of the linemen said following Seattle’s fourth practice of camp at the Virginia Mason Athletic Center. “And I wouldn’t be surprised if sometime here — soon — we’ll probably have a guy we want to keep there and get as many reps as he can.”

That guy appears to be Lemuel Jeanpierre.

Jeanpierre has the experience. He’s been Unger’s understudy and backup since the Seahawks signed him in January 2011 to the active roster for that postseason. He’s been on the roster every season since, starting 11 regular-season games. That includes three games last season when Unger was hurt.

Seattle re-signed Jeanpierre in late November following an injury settlement in September. He had a pinched nerve in his neck that he said Monday wasn’t that bad; he understood the move to just be part of the business of football.

He spent 10 weeks “at home,” as he put it, surprised no team called until Seattle did before the late November home game against Arizona.

Now his experience and knowledge of Cable’s system is showing up in this competition with 2014 practice-squad guard Drew Nowak, 2014 part-time, fill-in starter Patrick Lewis and rookie converted defensive tackle Kristjan Sokoli.

“Oh, it’s awesome,” Jeanpierre said of his familiarity and experience in Cable’s schemes. “It’s like being in the same system in college for five years.”

Nowak keeps getting shared, first-team reps at center — for now. But he has no experience there; the fourth-year veteran was a defensive tackle at Western Michigan and then a guard for Jacksonville for two seasons, one of them (2012) spent on injured reserve. He was a practice-squad guard for Seattle last season.

Cable likes Nowak’s grit, and he likens his progress to that of J.R. Sweezy. Cable converted Sweezy from a college defensive tackle into first a center, then eventually the Seahawks’ starting right guard a couple of years ago.

Cable had Sokoli as the first-string left guard Monday in an experiment, and it didn’t always go well for the defensive tackle until April at the University of Buffalo. Reserve defensive lineman Demarcus Dobbs repeatedly sped past Sokoli into the backfield.

Cable said the idea is that with Sokoli’s head swimming so much learning offense for the first time, he wants to take something off his rookie’s plate by not having him have to snap the ball on top of all else he’s thinking about.

Lewis arrived off waivers from Green Bay late last August, was released again, then was signed by the Seahawks in early October off Cleveland’s practice squad. He made four starts while Unger was hurt. He’s strong but relatively short (a listed 6 feet 1). Lewis has spent the first days of training camp alternating with Sokoli as the third-string center.

Cable and the Seahawks can avoid throwing a recent practice-squad guard or a rookie college defensive tackle into the center of the line for the Sept. 13 opener at St. Louis by choosing Jeanpierre or Lewis for the job. And judging by how they’ve practiced since May organized team activities, the choice between those two will apparently be Jeanpierre.

LEGION OF BAND-AID

The Seahawks got a mini-scare when Richard Sherman went down on one knee with his head down on the sideline following one of the last plays of a nickel-defense scrimmage. The concern was enough that Marshawn Lynch, Bobby Wagner and head coach Pete Carroll came over and encircled Sherman as the All-Pro cornerback gathered himself. Lynch even took away Sherman’s helmet to ensure he didn’t go right back into the scrimmage.

After about 10 minutes and some test-running for a trainer, Sherman was back in without apparent after-effects.

While he was out, and with Earl Thomas still recovering from shoulder surgery and Kam Chancellor in day four of his camp holdout, the supposed “Legion of Boom” was this: Cary Williams, Steven Terrell, DeShawn Shead and Marcus Burley.

EXTRA POINTS

DE Cliff Avril watched practice in a camouflage cap. It looked like it was just a rest day. The players also get a day off from the field Tuesday. Cassius Marsh was the first-team end opposite Michael Bennett, and Marsh again was fast off the ball. … Kevin Pierre-Louis got some time with the starting linebackers. A shoulder injury cut short the rookie season for the fourth-round draft choice in 2014 after seven games. … CB Mohammed Seisay, acquired Sunday from Detroit for a late-round draft choice next year, spent his first practice outside at left cornerback. Will Blackmon remained the first nickel back inside. Seisay, wearing No. 39, is 6 feet 2 and 202 pounds. In his new Seahawks practice uniform he looks like Shead. ... RB Robert Turbin out-ran edge defenders three times on carries. … Cable said RB Christine Michael is on the verge of a breakout, echoing Carroll’s praise of Lynch’s backup from Sunday. “I see a kid who’s growing up,” Cable said of Michael, “and I’m excited about that.” … Third-string QB R.J. Archer threw more passes behind receivers and once lofted one over the middle too softly off Deshon Foxx’s hand. The ball tipped into the arms of rookie safety Ryan Murphy for an interception. To underscore how much Archer is struggling, a report out of Kansas State on Monday said the Seahawks are giving a tryout Tuesday to Jake Waters. He was Seattle rookie wide receiver Tyler Lockett’s quarterback at Kansas State.

gregg.bell@thenewstribune.com

@gbellseattle

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