RENTON, Wash. – When the Seahawks signed Zach Miller in free agency, Pete Carroll insisted it was not to replace John Carlson, but to give the team a potent one-two punch at tight end.
That prolific tight end duo won’t materialize this year, however, because Carlson will miss the season with a torn labrum that will require shoulder surgery, Carroll announced Tuesday.
“We were really counting on this,” Carroll said. “We were so excited about having Zach and John play together, and unfortunately that’s not going to happen now. It’s disappointing, because John had great start to camp, he was rocking and rolling, and those two guys out there together looked really good… We’re certainly going to miss John. We were really counting on him having a fantastic year for us. That’s a big loss for us.”
Carlson played in Seattle’s first preseason game on Aug. 11, then practiced the following Saturday, but has not practice since. Carlson, 27, has caught 137 passes for 1,519 yards and 13 touchdowns in his three-year career, but the second-round pick saw his number decline in each of the past two seasons after a standout rookie campaign. However a big part of Carlson’s decreased productivity was the result of him having to spend more time helping protect Matt Hasselbeck as the line struggled with injuries, and Carroll had said on multiple occasions that they were expecting big things out of Carlson this season.
Carlson, who had two touchdowns in Seattle’s playoff win over New Orleans in January, is in the final year of the rookie contract he signed in 2008, meaning last season’s playoff loss in Chicago could end up being his final game as a Seahawk.
With Carlson out, the Seahawks currently have only three healthy tight ends in Miller, Anthony McCoy and Dominique Byrd. Cameron Morrah, who showed promise last season, is on the physically unable to perform list with a toe injury, and is not expected to be ready for the start of the season. McCoy, a sixth-round pick last year, and Byrd, a former third-round pick who spent training camp in Arizona last season, have both impressed Carroll this preseason.
“Fortunately our tight ends have played really well,” Carroll said. “Anthony has done a very good job and Dominique Byrd has done exceedingly well catching the football and getting open.”
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