Seahawks guard James Carpenter working way back after knee injury
In this Feb. 26, 2011, photo, Alabama offensive lineman James Carpenter runs a drill at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis. The Seattle Seahawks took Carpenter in the first round of the NFL draft on Thursday, April 28, 2011. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy).
RENTON, Wash.-- James Carpenter is just happy to be back practicing.
The Seattle Seahawks' guard has been cleared to return to practice and was back at work this week as he gets re-acclimated to playing football again after a devastating knee injury in practice ended his rookie season.
"I've been waiting for 10 months to be back," he said.
Carpenter was injured during a relatively benign blocking drill during a practice in mid-November.
"I just knew that my season was over," Carpenter said.
The damage to his knee included a torn anterior cruciate ligament. He was placed on the physically unable to perform list at the outset of training camp and seemed destined to begin the regular season there as well.
But Carpenter made strides in his recovery midway through training camp and surprised everyone, including coach Pete Carroll, by being activated for the start of the regular season.
"He's way ahead of schedule. We thought it was going to take another 6-8 weeks to get to this point," Carroll said.
Carpenter still isn't close to taking the field for the Seahawks just yet. He's been limited in practice this week while getting his first football-related work in nearly 10 months. While his teammates are getting ready to begin the season against division rival Arizona on Sunday, Carpenter is essentially just beginning his training camp.
"He kind of looks like everyone did at the beginning of OTA's," offensive line coach Tom Cable said.
Carpenter struggled initially with adapting to the speed of the NFL game. He came into training camp out of shape following the lockout and was quickly taken advantage of early in the preseason.
Denverrookie Von Miller ran circles around him during a preseason game last fall as Carpenter struggled to catch up. But as the season progressed, Carpenter slowly got more comfortable. He started the first nine games of the season (eight at right tackle, one at left guard) before the injury ended his season.
"Very solid player up until the injury and then the injury was kind of a big setback in that that's right when he was taking off," Cable said.
Carpenter can now begin the process of getting back on the field in an actual game. In addition to getting in game shape, Carpenter has to adjust to a new position as the team has moved him to left guard. It's a position he already feels comfortable with after playing on the left side of the line at Alabama.
"I'm happy playing guard," Carpenter said. "I feel like that is where I should be playing."
Carroll still plans on being cautious with Carpenter in the interim. They don't need him to factor in anytime soon as Paul McQuistan has locked down the starting job. Yet, they still believe in his potential to be a factor for them in the future and have come too far to risk any setbacks now.
He feels great about what he's gone through and how he's made the most of this time and it's a real good success story for a young guy proving he can get back from a very difficult situation," Carroll said. "Now we've just got to manage it really well and be patient."
Notes: RB Marshawn Lynch was limited in practice Thursday. It was the first time Lynch had been on the practice field since back spasms surfaced following the team's trip to Denver in Week 2 of the preseason. ... WR Golden Tate (knee), DE Greg Scruggs (hamstring) and CB Byron Maxwell (shoulder) did not participate in Thursday's practice. QB Matt Flynn (right elbow) was also limited.