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Pete Carroll on James Carpenter: "He’s looked the best he's ever looked by far right now"

Posted May 30, 2014

After battling knee injuries early in his career, former first-round draft pick James Carpenter feels and looks healthy as the Seahawks start OTAs.

When the Seahawks drafted James Carpenter out of the University of Alabama with the 25th overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, they saw a tough, nasty, and aggressive player with a mean-streak mentality who had the ability to play all four spots along the offensive line.

"I think this guy is a road grader," head coach Pete Carroll said the night the Seahawks used their first-round selection on Carpenter. "He’s the guy that comes off the football with great leverage. His feet are flying. He wants to bury you. He wants to demonstrate the attitude and the toughness and the style that he plays in, and the fact that he’s versatile – that’s another element that adds to it.

"But he fits the way we want to bring our program along."

Carpenter's introduction to the Seahawks program was swift. He would start the first nine games of his career - eight of them at right tackle and one at left guard, but an ACL tear in late November sent him to injured reserve. His recovery forced him to miss the first three games of 2012, and while he did return to the field for seven games that season, a November concussion and December tweak of the same knee brought an early end to Carpenter's season for the second consecutive year.

This past season saw the first time since his senior year at Alabama where Carpenter was able to put together a full season on the field. He made 10 starts in 2013, splitting time with veteran Paul McQuistan in an ongoing competition at left guard.

The injury bug and conditioning have kept Carpenter from reaching his first-round potential, but if this past week of Organized Team Activities are any indication, a visibly trimmer Carpenter could be on his way to contributing in a big way in 2014.

“He’s down about 15 pounds," Carroll said at the conclusion of Tuesday's OTA. "He’s had a great start to the offseason. He’s been focused, he’s in it, and he’s moving like crazy. He doesn’t look like the same guy physically. He’s looked the best he’s ever looked by far right now and with a long ways to go."

Carpenter's knee injuries have affected his balance on the field, Carroll said. Now healthy and working primarily at left guard with the No. 1 unit, the Seahawks have a first-round caliber "road grader" at the ready. After battling adversity early in his career, Carpenter is looking to maximize his latest opportunity.

"We’re really fired up about James, and he’s excited about it too," Carroll added. "He feels great. He’s the smartest he’s been, he understands the most, and he feels the best.

“That’s all great stuff for us.”