July 29, 2013 in Sports

Seahawks’ Carpenter must prove his worth

Former first-round pick says he’s finally healthy
Associated Press
 
Associated Press photo

James Carpenter started 11 games at right tackle for the Seahawks in 2011 before tearing the ACL in his knee.
(Full-size photo)

After two seasons lost largely to knee injuries, James Carpenter is finally healthy and ready to prove he was worthy of the Seattle Seahawks selecting him with a first-round draft pick.

The potential is obvious.

Listed at 6-foot-5 and 321 pounds, Carpenter offers the kind of size no other lineman on Seattle’s roster does. No one can physically impose his will on an opposing player quite like Carpenter can when healthy. But knee injuries have reduced that potential to merely a massive tease through his first two seasons in the league.

“He’s quick as a cat. Big dude, too … strong. But I don’t know. It’s almost been two years minus a couple snaps last year that he wasn’t really healthy for. So we’ll see,” center Max Unger said.

Carpenter feels he’s finally ready to prove what he can be. He says he’s 100-percent healthy and no longer has worries over the strength of his injured knee.

“I’ve been hurt both years so I plan on playing this whole season this year,” Carpenter said. “That’s all I’ve got to prove is trying to get my respect from my teammates and stuff back. That’s why I’m working hard now.”

Carpenter was selected by the Seahawks in the first round in 2011. Seattle originally intended on Carpenter becoming their long-term answer at right tackle. He started 11 games there as a rookie before tearing the ACL in his knee during a non-contract drill in practice.

The injury lingered into last season as Carpenter was placed on the physically unable to perform list prior to training camp. Seattle also decided to change their plans for Carpenter as they elected to move him to left guard. He had been a left tackle at Alabama and felt more comfortable on that side of center. The team also thought he’d be more effective as an in-line blocker than in space on the edge of the line.

Carpenter remained on the PUP list throughout the preseason before somewhat surprisingly being kept on the Seahawks’ 53-man roster for the start of the regular season. Carpenter was healthy enough to be back in the lineup by Week 4 and started against the St. Louis Rams at guard. A concussion forced him to miss two more games midseason before another injury to his knee ended his season after just seven games played.

Tom Cable, the Seahawks offensive line coach, still saw enough from Carpenter last season to feel confident in the switch to guard.

“The issue is getting him – he’s a little bit like the new kids because he’s been out so long – to catch up,” Cable said. “He’s doing fine. He’s doing a really nice job of catching up with the older guys. Now that the injury is behind him it can be all about football again and he should come along pretty quick.”

It’s the first time in three years Carpenter has been on the field for the start of training camp. He missed the start of his rookie campaign in a brief contract holdout before the knee injury forced him to miss all of last year’s camp.

Carpenter has been forced to watch his teammates practice from the sidelines frequently all too often. Just being able to be back out on a football field has been long overdue.

“I felt great out there,” Carpenter said. “Pretty rusty but I’m just glad I’m out here working with the team again.”

Baltimore Ravens tight end Dennis Pitta is lost for the season after undergoing hip surgery, a major blow to the team’s bid to repeat as Super Bowl champions.

Pitta was hurt Saturday, the third day of training camp, when he collided with safety James Ihedigbo in the back of the end zone while going for a pass from Joe Flacco.

In response, Baltimore signed veteran tight end Visanthe Schiancoe, a 33-year-old free agent with 243 catches for 2,677 yards and 27 touchdowns in his career.

Koppen tears ACL

Broncos center Dan Koppen is out for the season after tearing his left ACL on Sunday in 9-on-7 drills, less than six weeks after rejoining Denver following J.D. Walton’s setback in his comeback from ankle surgery.

Koppen, an 11-year veteran who played his first nine seasons with the Patriots, was caught in a pile early in the workout and was carted off the field and taken for an MRI, which revealed the season-ending injury.

Quick kicks

Wide receiver Percy Harvin will get a second opinion on his sore hip next week in New York, and Seattle coach Pete Carroll says all options remain for how the injury is handled. … Linebacker O’Brien Schofield has been claimed off waivers by Seattle, giving the Seahawks another versatile option that could play outside linebacker or defensive end. Schofield was a fourth-round pick by the Arizona Cardinals in 2010 and started nine games at outside linebacker in 2012. … The Arizona Cardinals have reached a contract agreement with first-round draft pick Jonathan Cooper. … The New York Jets and first-round draft pick Dee Milliner have agreed to terms on a four-year contract. … Tennessee Titans guard Chance Warmack is the draft’s only remaining unsigned first-round pick. Warmack was selected 10th overall.

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