August 27, 2011; Englewood, CO, USA; Seattle Seahawks offensive linesman James Carpenter (75) on the sidelines during the fourth quarter against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field. The Broncos defeated the Seahawks 23-20. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
While Seahawks fans anxiously await the dreaded “second opinion” on Percy Harvin’s hip injury, it might be nice to focus on a Seattle player whose health finally isn’t a question mark.
Since being drafted 25th overall by the Seahawks in 2011, offensive guard James Carpenter has been plagued by injuries. Starting with a torn ACL during a mid-week practice in his rookie season, Carpenter has constantly been a player in, “recovery mode.” That trend continued during his second year as a concussion and knee injury cut his season short once again. Couple those injuries with questions about where he is best suited to line up on the offensive line and that ugly four letter word known as “bust” comes to mind.
However, as Carpenter competes for the starting left guard spot with Paul McQuistan, it’s important to remember another Seahawks player who overcame injury problems early in their career. If you haven’t figured it out, I’m talking about the pro bowl tackle that might be lining up to the left of Carpenter this season.
At this point it is probably is easy to forget the injury woes Russell Okung faced during his first two seasons in the NFL. Being selected to the pro bowl tends to do that. But for the sake of argument let’s remember that he faced high ankle sprains on both ankles his rookie season and a torn pectoral cut his second NFL season short.
These injuries early in Okung’s career lead to several questions about his durability and whether or not he warranted the first round draft pick Seattle used to get him. Questions that Okung more than answered by starting almost every game last season while proving to be an elite tackle.
So when I pose the question, “Is this James Carpenter’s year?” I’m referring to whether or not Carpenter will be able to put his injuries behind him and affirm his status as a first round draft pick like Okung did this past season.
It would be unfair to expect as much from Carpenter as Okung considering the fact that Okung was projected to be an elite lineman while Carpenter was thought to be a reach as a first round pick. With that in mind, true success this season for Carpenter would be beating out McQuistan for the starting left guard spot and playing at a high level for most, if not the entire season. He should be set up for success by being in between the pro bowl sandwich of Okung and center Max Unger.
As training camp continues and the preseason gets closer, it will be exciting to see what James Carpenter can do while operating at one hundred percent. So be sure to pay attention to him this season because after all, this might just be his year.