By John Boyle Herald Writer
RENTON — When asked about the health of James Carpenter last week, Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll spoke with enthusiasm about the recent progress the guard had made in his recovery from the knee injury that ended his rookie season.
Then again, Carroll tends to be rather enthusiastic about almost everything, so it was still hard to know just how close Carpenter, who did not take place in offseason workouts or practice throughout training camp, was to returning. Well on Monday it became clear that Carpenter is indeed on his way back when he practiced for the first time since tearing his ACL in November.
“It feels great to be back,” said Carpenter, Seattle’s first-round pick in 2011. “It’s been a long time, and I’ve been waiting for this for 10 months.”
Carpenter return to practice is no small feat considering that there was concern as recently as July that he may not play at all this year, according to Carroll.
“Carp is doing marvelously,” Carroll said last week. “We were kind of concerned about him not making early progress in the recovery program, but he just kind of jumped about six weeks ago, and he’s doing a very rigorous workout, long spells of work on the field. … He has busted his tail to get back, and we’re really, really excited. He’s definitely going to play this year. We didn’t know that even in July. We weren’t sure. But we know that now that he’s going to play once he gets back and gets his weeks in to get back on the field. So it’s really positive for us.”
Two days after Carroll gave that update on Carpenter, the Seahawks put him on their 53-man roster rather than the Physically Unable to Perform list, which would have forced him to sit out at least six games. Three days later, Carpenter showed just how close he is to returning by putting on his pads and practicing for the first time. Carpenter didn’t have a timetable for how soon he might be ready for game action.
“I’m just doing what the trainers tell me to do,” he said. “Hopefully it’s sooner than later.”
And as expected, Carpenter returned to practice playing left guard, not right tackle, the position he played in college and for eight of his nine games last season. The Seahawks decided Carpenter is a better fit at guard — plus they like what they have in Breno Giacomini at right tackle — and Carpenter agrees with that assessment.
“I’m going to be happy playing guard,” he said. “I feel like that’s what I should be playing.”
When Carpenter is all the way back, he’ll have to beat out Paul McQuistan to earn a place back in the starting lineup. McQuistan, a versatile lineman who filled in at guard and tackle for injured players last season, did well enough to earn a contract extension with the Seahawks, and won’t be easy to displace.
And speaking of knee injuries, receiver Golden Tate, a projected starter, did not practice Monday after suffering a knee injury in Thursday’s preseason finale against the Raiders. Carroll wasn’t available to the media Monday, so no update was available, but Carroll did say after Thursday’s game that the injury did not appear to be serious. If Tate is unavailable this week, that would likely mean a start for Braylon Edwards at the receiver spot opposite Sidney Rice.
Herald Writer John Boyle: email@example.com.