Focus on: James Carpenter

Posted Jul 25, 2013

The Seahawks’ left guard of the future was their backup left guard of the present on Thursday, when James Carpenter practiced for the first time since last season as the team opened training camp.

James Carpenter is a big man, and the Seahawks have big plans for their first-round selection from the 2011 NFL Draft.

In an ideal world, the 6-foot-5, 321-pound Carpenter will settle in a left guard and provide a road-grader presence between All-Pro center Max Unger and Pro Bowl left tackle Russell Okung. In the real world, however, Carpenter has to stay healthy and get himself into even better shape before that can happen.

But when the team opened its fourth training camp under coach Pete Carroll on Thursday, Carpenter took a needed next step by practicing for the first time since last season – working at the left guard spot with the No. 2 line.

Asked what he saw from Carpenter, offensive line coach Tom Cable pulled no punches in offering, “The best way to put it was a lot of rust.”

But Cable quickly added, “It’s just good to have him out here. Good work from beginning to end. That’s the part I was hoping for, to see him go through the whole thing, no issues. He’s cleared, healthy, ready to go.”

It’s just that Carpenter hasn’t been “out here” enough. He sustained a severe knee injury during a midweek practice in his rookie season, which forced Carpenter to miss the final seven games. Last summer, he was on the physically unable to perform list when camp opened and then played in seven games before his season again ended prematurely because of a concussion and knee injury.

“We were just clearing him (to play) and then, boom, we’re playing him,” is the way Cable put it when asked about Carpenter’s second season.

But this is a new summer, and a new opportunity for Carpenter to fulfill is immense potential.

“It felt great playing with my teammates again,” he said.

And playing guard, rather than right tackle as he did as a rookie.

“I love playing guard,” he said. “I feel like that’s my position. Just run blocking against big linemen, I feel like that’s my thing. I’m very powerful and strong, so that’s why I feel like guard is my position.”

It’s a feeling that is shared by Cable, and it’s also why Thursday was such a big step for such a big man. 

As Cable said, “It was pretty good first day. Today was a major success for him.”