Outgoing John Moffitt and introverted James Carpenter couldn't be more different, but the Seahawks hope they'll pair up to give stability and durability for years to come.
RENTON — The need to put words in James Carpenter’s mouth was almost literal when he began this season with the Seahawks.
The rookie right tackle, drafted out of Alabama in the first round, was so quiet his fellow offensive linemen thought it would be funny to have him read from a journal that one of the veterans wrote for him. So Carpenter played along, reciting entries that ranged from homesicknesses to hunger while the rest of the linemen laughed.
As for John Moffitt, the rookie who lines up next to Carpenter? No need to give him any material. The words come tumbling out of him so fast that his next unspoken thought very well may be his first.
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“They’re opposites for sure,” said Tom Cable, Seattle’s offensive-line coach, of his two rookies.
They are the odd couple of Seattle’s offensive line, rookies planted side by side this year with the expectation they’ll grow into a strength of this Seahawks offense. Moffitt is the XL extrovert who has the guts to wear fuzzy Uggs slippers into the locker room. Carpenter is understated, going on shy, and speaks softly when he speaks at all.
Carpenter grew up in the South and played in the SEC, while Moffitt is from New England and went to Wisconsin of the Big Ten. Carpenter’s dreadlocks hang past his shoulders, while Moffitt’s shaggy mop top is one haircut away from becoming a truly formidable mullet.
This pair constitutes the leap of faith Seattle made with its first two picks in last April’s draft, choosing Carpenter in the first round and Moffitt in the third to put some steel-toed toughness back in Seattle’s run game.
The lack of offseason workouts left no time to dip a toe in the water. When training camp began, Seattle took the plunge and cannonballed into the deep end with two rookies protecting the quarterback’s right side.
“At the beginning, we had no clue what was going on, both of us,” said Moffitt. “So you’re not really sure about everything you’re doing.”
Carpenter’s conditioning was an issue until September. He arrived at training camp weighing more than 330 pounds, well above his weight of 315 last year at Alabama. He has lost more than 20 pounds.
When the season began, inexperience across the offensive line was the team’s chief concern. Seattle needed four games before it scored a first-half touchdown.
But over the past three games, Seattle’s offense has shown signs of progress, whether it was Carpenter giving Arizona’s Darnell Dockett a little extra shove in the fourth quarter of the Seahawks’ Week 3 victory or the Seahawks rushing for a season-high 145 yards in New York. The two rookie linemen, who some saw as liabilities, are flexing their strength.
Carpenter believes it’s because they’ve learned side by side.
“That’s the reason we’ve gotten a lot better,” he said.
Perfect? Hardly. Improved? Definitely.
“You’re going to have a bunch of ups and downs as we’ve had,” Cable said. “And it continues to smooth out as we go.”
There are still problems. The Seahawks have allowed 18 sacks this season, second-most in the league, but there is progress, too. These two rookies may determine not only how far the offense can progress this season, but how fast.
“I think these guys are going to be the real deal,” Carroll said.
They’re also going to be real different, an odd couple coming together to strengthen the Seahawks’ offensive line.
Danny O’Neil: 206-464-2364 or firstname.lastname@example.org