A retriever of a receiver

Posted Aug 21, 2009

John Carlson's work ethic have led to the second-year tight end in becoming a major part of the Seattle offense.


Everyone from quarterback Matt Hasselbeck to strong safety Deon Grant, and his position coach to the defensive coaches, has raved about the play of John Carlson in his second training camp with the Seahawks.

Everyone, that is, except Carlson.

Camp Honors

Clare Farnsworth passes out awards from the team’s just-completed training camp:

Best Player John Carlson
Best Defensive Player Lofa Tatupu

Best Special Teams Player Jon Ryan
Best Rookie Max Unger

Click here to see the entire list

“Has it been perfect? No, it hasn’t been perfect,” the second-year tight end said. “I’m still kind of proving myself at this level.”

For Carlson, the proving has been in the producing, so when it came time to select the “best” player in the team’s just-concluded training camp, everyone else stuffed the ballot box for Carlson.

When asked about Carlson’s dogged efforts, Hasselbeck took it literally.

“The guy is like a golden retriever,” Hasselbeck said. “He just runs and comes back, and runs and comes back. He doesn’t complain. He’s great. He has worked harder than anybody I have seen here to be ready for this season.

“So hopefully he has a great season.”

Not that there was anything grating about Carlson’s rookie season. The second-round draft choice from Notre Dame took advantage of a season-long rash of injuries to the wide receivers in leading the team in receptions (55), receiving yards (627) and touchdown catches (5) – also franchise records for a tight end.

But it’s the way he approaches the game – and life, for that matter – that has his teammates and coaches not only predicting better things for Carlson, but counting on them.

“John is special,” Grant said. “And the really good thing about it, he’s a humble special person. He likes to work. He runs great routes. He’s got good speed. And he’s got great hands.”

Ah, those hands. They are can be as sure as vice gripes or as soft as a baby’s behind, depending on where the pass in thrown and where the nearest defender might be.

“He has some of the best hands for a tight end since like Wesley Walls and Shannon Sharpe,” Grant said. “Like I said, John is special.”

Grant will get no argument from Mike DeBord, the team’s first-year tight ends coach.

“I think it starts with the kind of person he is,” DeBord said. “John is just a great person. He studies the game hard and asks great questions.

“Then, out here on the practice field, it’s full speed every time he’s doing something. No matter if it’s individual drills, group drills, team drills, he’s full speed. And that’s how you get better.”

Good enough to be consideresd the best player in a training camp that also included Hasselbeck, and Grant, and middle linebacker Lofa Tatupu, and wide receivers Nate Burleson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh.

“John’s camp has been very good,” offensive coordinator Greg Knapp said. “He’s made great progress – as we were anticipating – because of what we saw in the offseason.”

Carlson was an attention-to-the-smallest-detail warrior during the months leading up to training camp. He worked tirelessly in the weight room with strength and conditioning coaches Mike Clark and Darren Krein, gaining strength without adding weight. He honed his technique under the tutelage of DeBord.

“John looks like he going to be pretty special,” coach Jim Mora said. “He’s a worker. He’s created a really good-looking body for himself. He’s strong. He’s physical. He’s got soft hands. He’s smart. He’s conscientious. He’s serious about being a great player.

“He’s fun to watch. It’s fun to watch him develop.”

Especially when that development matches what the coaches were anticipating in Carlson’s second summer with the team.

“John is making progress like you hope to see from a first-year guy to a second-year guy,” Knapp said. “The first-year guys, it’s so hard; you don’t get that spring with them because of the rules in place. So it’s the offseason of their second year where you find out progress, and he’s showing great progress.”

Carlson does agree with that assessment.

“It was a better camp this year than last year,” he said. “I feel more comfortable playing at this speed. I feel more comfortable in the offense than I did last year. So in that sense, I’m making progress.”

That’s John Carlson, a tireless worker who is a work in progress – not to mention a golden retriever of a receiver.