RENTON — The Seattle Seahawks returned to practice following their bye week Monday, and with the exception of guard James Carpenter, who is still recovering from a concussion, everyone on Seattle’s roster was able to participate.
And while Carpenter’s injury, which has kept him out of two games, should certainly not be taken lightly, what is more notable than his absence Monday is the overall health of the team 10 games into the season.
“We’re very fortunate right now,” Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said. “We’re very fortunate to be this healthy at this point, and hopefully we make the most of it.”
Just so we’re clear here before anybody in the media gets blamed for jinxing the team, Carroll noted how healthy his team is without any prompting. And since the coach isn’t afraid of putting a hex on his team for its final six games, it is worth pointing out just how fortunate the Seahawks have been this season when it comes to injuries.
Football’s violent nature, along with roster and salary cap restrictions in the NFL, mean that in this league more than any other in sports, a team’s fate is often tied to its health.
All teams suffer injuries throughout a season, and the best franchises in the NFL find ways to overcome injuries. The Packers were missing several key players when they won the Super Bowl two years ago and the Giants were plagued by early-season injuries last year before eventually winning a championship.
But so often the difference between a mediocre season and a very good one can be as simple as health. Were the 49ers a very talented team last year? Absolutely, but part of their amazing turnaround was the fact that they placed four players on injured reserve all of last year.
“It’s a tremendous difference,” Carroll said. “It’s who you’re playing with when you finish the season. The teams you’re playing against, you’re not always playing against the same guys that you might’ve played earlier in the year. The teams that have good health usually have the best chance of being consistent.”
Heading into their 11th game last year, the Seahawks had 11 players on injured reserve with injuries suffered in the regular season and preseason, including starters James Carpenter, John Moffitt and Marcus Trufant, and other key contributors like Walter Thurmond and John Carlson. This season, the Seahawks have only three players on IR, backup receiver Ben Obomanu and tight end Cameron Morrah and defensive end Dexter Davis, neither of whom was a sure thing to make the roster.
The Seahawks have six games remaining on their schedule, and injuries could certainly pile up as the season goes on. Seattle lost tackle Russell Okung and receivers Sidney Rice and Mike Williams late last season. But if their luck in the injury department holds, that should bode well for the Seahawks’ playoff hopes.
“We’re hoping that this will be a big boost to us,” Carroll said. “And the fact that we are young too, and all of the guys that have started with us gained all of that experience early in the season. Now that they have played a bunch of games and all, hopefully we can benefit from that.”
This year hasn’t been without impactful injuries. The Seahawks have played games without Carpenter, linebacker K.J. Wright, guard Moffitt, receivers Braylon Edwards and Doug Baldwin, and defensive tackle Jason Jones, to name a few, but the serious injuries have been less frequent. Carroll admits he isn’t sure why that is, but he hopes it is at least in part because of the more holistic approach the team is taking when it comes to player health.
“It’s really just the overall outlook in everything that we’ve done in treating each guy as individual as much as we can,” Carroll said. “We take each guy’s body makeup, his history, and the issues that he’s dealt with, and try to deal with them in a more individual manner the best we could. That comes from the diagnostics way early on that we started out with and all the way throughout. Again, I don’t know if we can attribute that to anything.”
Carroll doesn’t know if they can attribute it to a different approach because he is well aware than there is an element of luck involved when it comes to injuries. Eating right, stretching or resting one’s body adequately won’t do a whole lot of good if a 300-pound man comes crashing into your knee or ankle, nor would it have helped Okung last season when Trent Cole decided to judo toss the left tackle after the whistle, tearing Okung’s pectoral muscle and ending his season.
But maybe there is something to be said for what Seattle is doing. This is, after all, the first season in which the Seahawks have had a full offseason under the current regime. In 2010, Carroll and general manager John Schneider were hired in January and had to focus on hiring a coaching staff and remaking the roster. Last season the lockout meant players were preparing for the season on their own until August.
“This was the first chance we really had to kind of put a new program in motion,” Carroll said. “It’s a coordinated program between rehab with the trainers and the strength and conditioning coaches, and everybody that is cooking food for our guys and feeding them, and rest, and every aspect of it. It’s an exciting thing that we’ve started, and whether this has anything to do with it, we don’t know, but we’ll find out and we have a long ways to go to finish healthy, but we’re thrilled that the guys have their health right now.”
Herald Writer John Boyle: firstname.lastname@example.org.