A day after coach Pete Carroll said the Seahawks have no idea if Chris Carson will be able to play again, the running back said in two interviews he’s going to do everything he can to get back on the field in 2022.
But in the interviews with Heavy.com and Sports Illustrated, Carson — who had neck surgery in December to fuse a disc — also said there is “no timeline” for when he might return.
“Oh, we still going right now,” Carson told Heavy.com. “I see myself playing until I feel like stopping. My mindset is never to give up. So I’m staying positive like I said, and continue to fight and get back onto the field.”
Carson said he is “not trying to rush” his return.
“I’m just trying to take it one day at a time,” Carson told Heavy.com. “Just keep rehabbing, keep getting better. Keep building strength and then go from there. But like I said, there’s no timeline for me.”
Carson has not taken part in any on-field work with the Seahawks this offseason, and Carroll said Thursday that Carson was not cleared medically by team doctors while at the team facility about two weeks ago.
Carroll said Carson will have another exam in about two weeks.
“There’s kind of a big assessment to be done,” Carroll said. “It’s about two weeks from now, from the docs and the surgeon and all that. They’ll reconvene, see where he is and let us know.”
Carroll painted a somewhat ominous picture of the fact that Carson was not cleared two weeks ago, which was roughly five months after surgery.
“We could have made the decision that he was ready to go,” Carroll said. “That could have happened, that didn’t happen, so now we’re into the next phase of it and we’ll see what happens here. Just hold out good hope, because he’s worked really hard, and he really wants to come back and all of that, but I can’t tell you anything for certain now at this point. The fact that we could have known, just given us a green light, here we go. That didn’t happen.”
Carroll then mentioned the possibility that Carson won’t be able to play, stating:
“Our guys love this game that they grow up playing, and when they sense that there may be an end to it, it’s hard. It’s difficult, and it’s real. And we’re going to love him through it and help him as much as possible, if that’s the case, like we do with everybody when it comes to the end of it. It’s inevitable. It’s coming, but it’s always too soon, so we’re trying to fight that off.”
Carson, though, told SI.com he has not considered retirement.
“I never thought about stuff like that,” Carson said. “And my mindset is, if I have a chance to get out on the field, I’m going to do whatever I can to get back on the field. So I don’t think about stuff like that. I’m gonna make the decision that’s best for me ultimately. But like I said, my mindset is on playing.”
Carson said he has been working with trainers and physicians in Seattle and his hometown of Atlanta.
Carroll said Carson will have to show he has full range of motion before being cleared to play.
“He’s right at the cusp of getting there,” Carroll said. “The time is on him now. Can he beat the clock here a little bit? So he’s close, he’s really close, and he knows that. He’s frustrated that he couldn’t show it this time around, but he knows, OK, here’s our next loop, so he’s going for it, just like our guys know how to do. We’re all pulling for him.”
Carson, 27, was a seventh-round draft pick out of Oklahoma State in 2017 and is eighth all-time in rushing for the Seahawks with 2,502 yards and sixth in rushing touchdowns with 24.
He signed a two-year contract worth up to $10.4 million in March 2021, that included $5.5 million guaranteed. If he is released the Seahawks can save $4.6 million against the salary cap this year.
The Seahawks also re-signed Rashaad Penny this year and drafted Ken Walker III out of Michigan State in the second round, with Carroll on Thursday saying, “At this point, when we’re looking at him [Walker] and Rashaad, those two guys are the potential one-two kind of punch until Chris gets cleared.”