The Seahawks’ first-round draft choice last year practiced with his teammates for the first time since last November, when he sustained a severe knee injury during a midweek practice. He missed the final seven games of his rookie season – the first games he had missed in his career – and began training camp this summer on the physically unable to perform list.
Even coach Pete Carroll admitted there was some concern whether Carpenter would be able to play this season. So this first step back, regardless of how small it might have been, was huge for the 6-foot-5, 321-pound lineman.
Carpenter also carried that concern with him during what has been an arduous rehab progress.
“Yes, I was worried,” said Carpenter, smiling after practice as the sweat ran down his face. “But I just kept working and just waiting to be back to this right here. So I’m just happy to be back.”
Carpenter isn’t just back; he’s learning a different position. After playing right tackle last season, Carpenter is working at left guard. But that’s OK, too.
“I’m going to be happy playing guard,” said Carpenter, who started the season opener last year at left guard because Robert Gallery was out with an injury. “I feel that’s where I should be playing.”
General manager John Schneider has said that he envisions Carpenter being a mauling presence at guard, especially in the running game.
Carroll talked last week about the breakthrough Carpenter made in his rehab, which prompted the club to carry him on the 53-man roster rather than leave him on PUP – a move that would have forced Carpenter to sit out the first six games.
“Carp is doing marvelously,” Carroll said. “He’s doing a very rigorous workout, long spells of things on the field. We’re trying to simulate three days a week of hard practicing and then one more real hard day of practicing to see how he endures it. And he’s handling it well.”
For Carpenter, that breakthrough point was obvious.
“It just stopped hurting,” he said of his left knee. “So I just kept working as hard as I wanted to, so I can come back.”
That work started with light jogging, progressed to running and then position drills after practice with line coach Tom Cable.
“I wanted it real bad,” Carpenter said. “I never missed any games until now, so it was rough. But I made it back and I’m happy to be back.
“I’ve been waiting for 10 months to be back, so I’m happy.”
No one knows exactly when Carpenter will be able to play in a game, but it will now be sooner rather than later.