The Seahawks expected to make tight end one of the strongest positions on the team, using both John Carlson and Pro Bowler Zach Miller together. Now, Miller's addition prevents it from being a glaring weakness.
RENTON — John Carlson caught more passes in his first two years as a Seahawk than any other tight end in franchise history.
Now he can’t catch a break.
Carlson is out for the year because of a shoulder injury, coach Pete Carroll said after Seattle’s practice Tuesday. He must undergo surgery to repair a torn labrum and is likely headed to injured reserve.
“We’re certainly going to miss John,” Carroll said. “We were really counting on him having a fantastic year for us, and that’s a big loss for us.”
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But not as big of a loss as it would have been had they not signed Zach Miller as an unrestricted free agent from the Raiders in the first week of August.
By acquiring Miller, the Seahawks expected to make tight end one of the strongest positions on the team, and Carroll said Seattle’s offense would include a heavy diet of those two players together. Now, Miller’s addition prevents it from being a glaring weakness.
“It’s disappointing because John has had a great start to camp,” Carroll said. “He was rocking and rolling, and those two guys out there together looked really good.”
Carlson, 27, played in Seattle’s first exhibition game, which was Aug. 11 at San Diego. He was on the field when the Seahawks returned to practice two days later, but sat out because of the shoulder beginning Aug. 14. Carlson watched Tuesday’s practice, but was not available for comment.
A second-round choice in 2008, Carlson led the team with 55 receptions as a rookie, the highest season total by a Seahawks tight end. He caught 51 passes in 2009, and many projected he could become a Pro Bowler last season.
Instead, he saw his role in the offense recede to the point that he was handling some of the blocking duties usually handled by a fullback when Michael Robinson missed a month with a hamstring injury. Carlson finished with 31 catches last season, a career low.
Carlson has 1,519 yards receiving over the previous three seasons, No. 17 among all tight ends in the league. Miller ranks fifth with 2,268.
This is the final season of Carlson’s rookie contract, and Miller’s addition cast a doubt on whether Carlson would be back.
Miller is 25 and already a Pro Bowler. There are only four tight ends who have caught more than 50 passes in each of the previous three seasons, and Miller is one of them.
Seattle still has depth at tight end with Anthony McCoy and Dominique Byrd — both played at USC under Carroll. McCoy has two touchdown receptions in three exhibition games, and Byrd has also scored.
Both had played so well in training camp that there was a thought the Seahawks might keep four tight ends on the regular-season roster for a second consecutive season. Cameron Morrah has been recovering from toe surgery and is not expected to be ready when the regular season begins.
“Fortunately, our tight ends have really played well,” Carroll said.
But Carlson’s injury means that position won’t be as deep as the Seahawks hoped.
• RB Marshawn Lynch (ankle) and LB David Hawthorne (knee) will not play in Friday’s exhibition finale against Oakland, according to Carroll.
• LT Russell Okung (ankle) is progressing in his recovery, but it’s unlikely he will be available Friday.
• SS Kam Chancellor, who missed Saturday’s exhibition game with a foot injury, remained out from practice, but he ran Tuesday and could be close to returning.
• S Josh Pinkard did not practice Tuesday, watching in full pads while resting a sore knee. WR Sidney Rice sat out the last portion of practice, resting a shoulder that has been sore. Other players not practicing: WR Isaiah Stanback (undisclosed), DE Dexter Davis (hip), LB Aaron Curry (knee), DE Chris Clemons (ankle) and DE Pierre Allen (hamstring).
Danny O’Neil: 206-464-2364 or firstname.lastname@example.org