Seahawks’ Carpenter working hard to secure spot on O-line

RENTON — Alabama ties notwithstanding, James Carpenter isn’t going to be confused for Forrest Gump anytime soon, but the Seattle Seahawks guard did happily take a page out of the movie character’s playbook this offseason.

After the Seahawks became Super Bowl champs, Carpenter went running.

“This is my first offseason where I can really run,” Carpenter said. “So after the season I just went straight to running. I didn’t really take a break. I went and ran.”

Coach Pete Carroll said last week that the five-week gap between offseason workouts and training camp can be a bit concerning because he doesn’t want the good work put in so far to be undone by players getting out of shape. Given Carpenter’s desire to run now that he’s enjoying a healthy offseason, that shouldn’t be a problem for the player who arguably has as much to prove as anyone on Seattle’s roster.

Carpenter came to Seattle as a first-round pick in 2011 and the team immediately installed him as its starting right tackle. But he’s battled injuries, conditioning issues and inconsistent play ever since his rookie season ended after nine games with a serious knee injury. Carpenter missed the start of the 2012 season while recovering from that knee injury, returned as a left guard, and saw that season end prematurely because of more knee troubles. Last season, Carpenter stayed healthy the entire season, but he couldn’t hold down the starting job, splitting time throughout the year with Paul McQuistan.

This offseason, the Seahawks declined the fifth-year option in Carpenter contract, meaning he’ll be an unrestricted free agent after the season. Carpenter understands that decision by the Seahawks, though he says it’s not what motivated him this offseason.

“My motivation is really being able to run finally,” he said. “I kind of figured (they would decline the option) because I’ve been hurt a lot. There was a competition last year (at left guard), so I kind of understood why they did it.”

But while Carpenter’s inconsistent career made left guard a concern for Seattle coming into this season — especially with McQuistan leaving in free agency — his play in offseason workouts, and his improved conditioning, is now cause for optimism at that spot.

Carpenter says he’s down 15 pounds from where he was a year ago — to 327 pounds — and the results are noticeable. Asked what he has seen out of Carpenter this season, offensive-line coach Tom Cable said, “Consistency, consistency, consistency, consistency.”

“When you’re healthy and you’re confident and you’re in better shape, all those things add up to give you the best chance to be consistent,” Cable said. “That’s what we’re seeing out here. We’re seeing the kind of player we had hoped for, and we’re seeing it every day, so that’s cool.”

In fact Carpenter’s improved play this offseason has created enough talk that even his former teammates are intrigued. Former Seahawks fullback Michael Robinson, who was in town last week to receive his Super Bowl ring, caught wind of the glowing reports on Carpenter and said big things could be in store for the former 25th overall draft pick.

“I heard he lost some weight, I can’t wait to see him, can’t wait to talk to him a little bit, kind of see where his mind is,” Robinson said. “Because to me he’s a guy who, if he got himself together up here (points to head), he could be one of the most dominant guards in the National Football League.”

Seahawks sign Smith

Seatte signed receiver Kevin Smith on Wednesday, filling the last open spot on their 90-man roster. Smith, who just finished his career at the University of Washington, originally signed with the Arizona Cardinals in May as an undrafted free agent.

The Cardinals waived Smith earlier this month and he was claimed by the Jacksonville Jaguars, who needed receivers for last week’s minicamp because of numerous injuries at the position. The Jaguars waived Smith last week and he went unclaimed, making him a free agent.

Smith, listed at 5-11, 214 pounds, had 50 catches for 765 yards and four touchdowns as a senior. He then put up some strong numbers at Washington’s Pro Day, running a 4.5-second 40-yard dash and posting a 37-inch vertical leap and a 10-foot, 6-inch broad jump.

Herald Writer John Boyle: jboyle@heraldnet.com.

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