Carlson to miss season

Posted Aug 30, 2011

With incumbent starter John Carlson scheduled for season-ending shoulder surgery, the addition of Pro Bowl tight end Zach Miller in free agency looms even larger for the Seahawks.

The recent acquisition of Zach Miller suddenly looks even better than when the Seahawks signed the Pro Bowl tight end four weeks ago.

That’s due to the fact that incumbent starter John Carlson will miss the 2011 season because he needs surgery to repair a torn labrum. Coach Pete Carroll made the somber announcement Tuesday afternoon following the team’s practice.

“It’s disappointing,” Carroll said. “Because John had a great start to camp. He was rocking and rolling and those two guys out there together looked really good.”

Carlson damaged the shoulder in practice on Aug. 13 while diving for a pass. It was hoped that he would be able to rehab the injury and play this season. But tests done Monday revealed that surgery is necessary.

When the Seahawks signed Miller in free agency, they envisioned the former Oakland Raider and Carlson being used in tandem to create matchup problems for opposing defenses in the passing game and also help a running game that ranked 31st in the league last season.

“We were really counting on this,” Carroll said. “We were so excited about having Zach and John play together. Unfortunately, that’s not going to happen now.”

Carlson, a second-round draft choice in 2008, holds the franchise records at the position for receptions (55 in 2008), receiving yards (627 in 2008) and touchdown catches (seven in 2009). Miller averaged 61 receptions and 756 receiving yards the past three seasons for the Raiders, including 60 for 685 and a career-high five TDs last season when he was voted to the AFC Pro Bowl team.

The Seahawks now seem set at the position entering Friday night’s preseason finale against the Raiders at CenturyLink Field, as well as the roster cut to 53 players on Saturday. Miller is the starter, with the former USC duo of Anthony McCoy and Dominique Byrd as the second and third options. McCoy is the better blocker, Byrd the better receiver.

“Fortunately, our tight ends have played really well,” Carroll said. “Anthony’s done a very good job and Dominique Byrd has done exceedingly well catching the football and getting open.”

McCoy and Byrd each have seven receptions in the preseason to rank second on the team – one behind rookie free agent wide receiver Doug Baldwin. More importantly, they also have all three of the team’s TD catches – two by McCoy, the other by Byrd.

McCoy (6-5, 259) was a sixth-round draft choice last year and played in two games before being placed on the injured reserve list in November with a knee injury. Byrd (6-3, 255) was a third-round draft choice by the St. Louis Rams in 2006 and played in 14 games over two seasons before being released. He was out of the league in 2008 and signed with the Arizona Cardinals in 2009 before being released in November. The Seahawks signed him to a future contract in January.

Cameron Morrah also is on the 80-man roster, but he has yet to pass his physical after having offseason toe surgery. He could remain on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list when the roster is trimmed to 53.

“But we’re certainly going to miss John,” Carroll said. “We were really counting on him having a fantastic year for us. So that’s a big loss for us.”