Jeanpierre returns to add depth at center

RENTON, Wash. (AP) Facing a dilemma at the center position following an injury to Max Unger last week, the Seattle Seahawks were fortunate that former backup Lemuel Jeanpierre was still available as a free agent.

The Seahawks re-signed Jeanpierre on Tuesday to provide depth at center following a high-ankle sprain suffered by Unger last week against the Kansas City Chiefs.

''He's retained a lot. We already know that,'' head coach Pete Carroll said Thursday. ''We've quizzed him pretty well. Now he's just got to get back to football playing and it just depends on how he handles it.''

With Unger out for a month and Stephen Schilling already on injured reserve due to a knee injury, the Seahawks were down to their fourth-string option at center in Patrick Lewis, and without another healthy body on the roster.

Jeanpierre had been with Seattle the previous four seasons while serving as Unger's primary backup. Jeanpierre has started eight games in place of Unger over that span.

''Nothing has changed,'' Jeanpierre said. ''There are tweaks in the playbook maybe a little bit, but I think I already got a grasp on that, but the tempo of the people hasn't changed. I just fit right in.''

Seattle placed Jeanpierre on injured reserve with a neck stringer in September and released him with an injury settlement. He said he played three preseason games with the injury and was surprised he was put him injured reserve prior to the team's season opener against Green Bay. It was a decision he wasn't very fond of at the time.

''I'm not happy that it happened or anything like that, but I'm happy to be back,'' Jeanpierre said. ''I think it just worked out. I'm here and able to help, so that's cool.''

Due to league rules, Jeanpierre wasn't eligible to re-sign with the Seahawks until this week. He's been a free agent for the rest of the league to sign for the last six weeks and said he had tryouts with the Browns, Saints, Dolphins and Jets that didn't materialize into job offers.

The Seahawks are thankful a player so familiar with their system and that they trust was available this late in the season.

Right guard J.R. Sweezy said Jeanpierre, whom his teammates have nicknamed ''Lem-o-pedia'' for his intelligence, stepped back in as if he hadn't been gone at all.

''I've played a lot of football with (him),'' quarterback Russell Wilson said. ''That helps. To have another guy that can step in and be composed and poised and be big for us, that will be crucial.''

The Seahawks are counting on Jeanpierre to play Sunday if needed against the Arizona Cardinals, though the coaching staff wouldn't go so far as to expect him to start given his 10 weeks away from the team.

''I feel like I've been ready for a long time,'' Jeanpierre said. ''That's how I feel personally. If they want me to start, if they want me to jump in there for a play or two, if they want me to sit back and do what I usually do, helping out wherever I can.''

NOTES: LB Bobby Wagner returned to full participation in practice Thursday for the first time since suffering a turf toe injury in Week 6 against Dallas. Wagner appears to be on track to return this week against Arizona. ... G James Carpenter also returned to full participation Thursday. He's missed the last two games with a sprained ankle. ... Unger (knee/ankle), CB Marcus Burley (hamstring), LB Kevin Pierre-Louis (shoulder) and RB Marshawn Lynch (back) did not participate. LB Brock Coyle (buttocks) and DE Demarcus Dobbs (knee) were limited. CB Byron Maxwell (calf), DE Michael Bennett (non-injury) and G J.R. Sweezy (thigh) were full participants.

---

AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL

SI Apps
We've Got Apps Too
Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide—from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Andy Staples, Grant Wahl, and more—delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.