Unger was a full participant in Wednesday’s practice, and after sitting out the past two games with an arm injury, his coaches and teammates clearly hope to see the return of one of the team’s most important offensive players.
“Max is a great player,” right guard J.R. Sweezy said. “He’s on top of it. He knows this offense like the back of his hand. So it’s a good feeling knowing a guy like that is beside you. If you make a call that’s kind of half-and-half, he’s there to correct you. So it’s a good feeling.”
Although the Seahawks rushed for a season-high 218 yards in their 28-34 loss to the Indianapolis Colts, the offense hasn’t been as effective as it was before Unger’s injury. Quarterback Russell Wilson in particular has seen his numbers dip over the past two games. Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll emphasized Unger’s importance in the passing game.
“Max will help the quarterback in identification,” Carroll said at his press conference yesterday. “Which is important, and which we have missed some over the last couple weeks periodically and it’s made a difference in our pass protection. We’re counting on that shoring up a little more so. We need our team leaders and a guy like Max coming back is a big deal to us.”
Unger’s return would go a long way toward stabilizing an offensive line that been patchwork due to injury. Left tackle Russell Okung has been played on injured reserve with designation to return because of toe injury and right tackle Breno Giacomini is out indefinitely after undergoing surgery on his knee. James Carpenter and rookie Michael Bowie have done an admirable job filling in at left guard and right tackle, respectively, but Unger’s leadership, experience and command of the offense are irreplaceable.
“We’re really hoping Max will secure the calls,” Carroll said.
In other injury news, Carroll was asked about the prospects of wide receiver Percy Harvin coming off of the physically unable to perform list next week, his first of eligibility.
“I don’t think that is realistic,” Carroll said.
Seahawks fans are eager to see the debut of their new offensive weapon, who was acquired in a trade with the Minnesota Vikings during the offseason. Harvin is a versatile playmaker who adds a dimension of creativity to the game plan. But Carroll is preaching patience as Harvin eases his way back to health following August hip surgery.
“He’s a full-on, full-speed football player,” Carroll said of Harvin. “He’s got to be ready to go. When he comes back, we want him to be able to endure the rigors of the end of the season. It’s not important to rush him back. It’s important to wait it out and be patient and get him out there when he’s ready to go and withstand the load of the game.”