The Seahawks have had injuries on the offensive line, but Frank Omiyale and others have stepped in, with no drop-off in performance.
RENTON — Back in March when the Seahawks signed Frank Omiyale, no news conference was called. Nobody on sports radio stopped whatever they were talking about to break the news. It didn’t start a flurry of tweets. No television cameras were there when he walked into the team’s training facility.
The signing of 30-year-old offensive tackle Frank Omiyale was the kind of story that was buried with all of the other transactions that are reported daily in the agate section of the sports pages.
So maybe in March Omiyale’s arrival wasn’t big news. But last Sunday, against the Dallas Cowboys, the importance of signing him was perfectly clear.
He was the next man up. With Russell Okung hurt again, he started at left tackle and practically was flawless. That was big news.
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Did you notice Dallas’ pass-rushing force, DeMarcus Ware? Probably not, because Omiyale was keeping him off quarterback Russell Wilson.
“I think having a guy like Frank is awesome,” guard John Moffitt said in the locker room before Thursday’s practice. “I think it’s good to have a guy in the room who has the experience that Frank does. I know, for me, I can go to him if I have a question.”
They sit together along a row of lockers at the training facility, anonymous hulks who understand their roles and support each other like brothers. Guard/center Lemuel Jeanpierre calls this group his football family.
“We don’t have starters anymore,” starting center Max Unger said. He was kidding, but there is truth in jest.
Last year, when the offensive linemen started falling, Breno Giacomini, Paul McQuistan and Jeanpierre filled in and the Seahawks might have gotten better.
Omiyale, Giacomini, McQuistan and Jeanpierre. In a league that loves its superstars, these are the team’s silent MVPs. They are the products of offensive-line coach Tom Cable’s system.
“Our practices are as valuable to us as the games are,” Jeanpierre said. “Around here, every day you’re getting watched, everybody’s getting watched. You have to be prepared every day. I think that’s the reason Frank was able to go in there on Sunday and do his job.
“There’s no big heads on the O-line around here, from the starters to the practice-squad guys. We take care of each other. We push each other. We’re in competition with each other. And we’re always trying to learn something new.”
It’s fill-in-the-gap football. Okung is expected to return Monday night against Green Bay, but there is no reason to panic if you see him limp off. Omiyale will be ready.
Who is Frank Omiyale?
“I’m just a guy,” he said. “A guy who’s just trying to do his job right. My biggest satisfaction is being there with my teammates and letting them know that I’ve got their backs and they’ve got my back. That’s how it works.
“It wasn’t any big news when I signed, and I don’t care about that at all. I don’t need any of that. I was with coach Cable my second year in Atlanta, and when I got here he just told me they were happy to have me and to get ready to do some work. That was good enough for me.”
Although he’s heard his name pronounced about a dozen different ways, it should be pronounced Oh-me-Yale (like the university). His father came to the United States from Nigeria to get an education.
He is smart and soft-spoken and exactly the kind of player and personality that good teams look for in the days before minicamps begin. He went to school at Tennessee Tech and was taken in the fifth round of the 2005 draft by Atlanta.
“When I came into the league, oh man, I didn’t know anything,” he said. “I was just trying to catch a clue, just trying to figure out what was going on. It was probably not until my third year that it finally started to click. I was blessed to be able to stay around that long, so I could figure it out.
“Being with coach Cable in Atlanta, that familiarity really helped me out here. It’s a great system here. It’s basically, ‘Just do what you’re told. Do what you’re coached to do. And things will work out just fine.’ “
Without fanfare, in the shadows of the superstars, the system continues to work.
Steve Kelley: 206-464-2176 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
More columns at seattletimes.com/columnists