Max in the middle

Entering his fourth season with the team, and second as the starting center, Max Unger gives line coach Tom Cable a leader at the pivotal position as he continues to mold the unit.

Just consider Max Unger a 6-foot-5, 305-pound security blank for Tom Cable.

The Seahawks’ offensive line has been in an injury-induced, scheme-switching state of flux for the past four seasons – when the team has used 12 starters at left guard, 11 at right guard, nine at left tackle, five at right tackle and four at center. Nineteen of those players who have started games – 11 of them at more than one position – aren’t even with the team anymore.

Last season, which was Cable’s first as offensive line coach as well as assistant head coach, injuries to three starters forced him to continue the shuffling by using six starting combinations.

Then there’s Unger, whose first season as the fulltime starter at center coincided with Cable’s arrival. Through it all, Cable had Unger at center for 15 starts last season. This offseason, Unger has been one of two constants on the No. 1 line – right tackle Breno Giacomini being the other – as Cable is taking a look at multiple players at left tackle, left guard and right guard.

“I knew Max when he came out of college,” Cable said Monday, as the coaches and players were preparing for the start of a three-day minicamp on Tuesday – the last hurrah in an offseason program that seemed like it never would start, but suddenly is almost over.

That was in 2009, when Cable was head coach of the Oakland Raiders and Unger ended up being the Seahawks’ second-round draft choice.

“I thought he would be a fine, fine center when he got to this level,” Cable said.

It just took Unger a while to get the opportunity to show that. In ’09, he started his first 13 games at right guard, before taking over at center for the final three after since-departed Chris Spencer broke a hand – as Unger became the first rookie lineman since Ray Roberts in 1992 to start 16 games for the Seahawks. In 2010, Unger got a season-ending toe injury in the opener, also while playing right guard.

“When I got here, we made some decisions – in terms of people that were here; those who weren’t going to be; and then those that were, but were they in the right spot,” Cable said. “I kind of just drew on my past with Max. I thought three years ago when he came out that he’d be a terrific center. So we put him there from Day One and his development has been second to none on this team.”

Last season wasn’t easy for anyone, because the 136-day lockout erased the offseason in a year when the running game was being reworked under Cable as part of the new offense that was being installed by coordinator Darrell Bevell.

“It’s a pretty big difference,” Unger said when asked to compare this condensed offseason to, well, no offseason at all. “Coming in off a lockout and learning a new system as opposed to now – just kind of coming off a pretty successful second half of the season for the O-line – it’s kind of being able to go from where we left off.”

via Max in the middle.