RENTON – The Seahawks’ offensive line led the way for the NFL’s fourth-best rushing attack last season.
Seattle allowed 44 sacks in 2013 – 10th most in the NFL – despite attempting fewer passes than all but one team. (AP)
Pass protection, though, was at times more of a liability than a strength. The 44 sacks the Seahawks allowed were 10th most in the NFL, a ranking that looks worse when taking into account that Seattle attempted the second-fewest passes of any team.
It’s one area in which the Super Bowl champs have plenty of room to improve. Center Max Unger has an idea of how that can happen.
“If we can have the same five guys start at the beginning of the year [and] all 16 games, those numbers will drop,” Unger said last week following an organized team activity. “We’re shooting for that. Injuries are a part of it but we’re not blaming that by any means. It’s just something you deal with.”
Seattle’s offensive line dealt with it often last season, and it was more than just the seven-week stretch in which that group played without both starting tackles. Seattle’s offensive line in Week 1 went like this, from left to right: Russell Okung, Paul McQuistan, Unger, J.R. Sweezy and Breno Giacomini. James Carpenter and McQuistan split time at left guard throughout the regular season.
Only five times was Seattle able to field a starting offensive line with Okung, Carpenter or McQuistan, Unger, Sweezy and Giacomini. There were three games in which the Seahawks were without three of those starters and seven games in which they were without at least two of them.
Unger missed three games – two because of a triceps injury and another due to a concussion. He also played with a pectoral injury.
“Yeah, I’m good,” he said when asked about his health.
Seattle’s offensive line will be breaking in at least one new starter as rookie Justin Britt and Michael Bowie compete to replace Giacomini at right tackle. Unger noted the tough transition Britt is facing coming from a spread offense at Missouri.
“They’re in a pretty similar spread system that I was in in college, and just the transition to having a tight end and a fullback and putting your hand in the ground all the time – it’s kind of [overlooked] a little bit,” Unger said. “But it’s pretty serious and he’s doing a good job of rolling in and being able to figure it out.”
Carpenter, meanwhile, is the presumed starter at left guard now that McQuistan is no longer in the mix. He is lighter than he was in previous seasons when his conditioning was a noticeable issue.
“Carp looks good,” Unger said. “He’s been playing very well. He came in in awesome shape and he’s been here working very hard. We’re expecting quite a bit out of him.”
Okung is recovering from toe surgery and is expected to return in time for training camp while Sweezy remains in line to start at right guard.
Follow Brady Henderson on Twitter @BradyHenderson.