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Seahawks: Can they tackle something bigger than a Super Bowl?

Coach Pete Carroll plans for the coming season: Develop players that others write off, and overcome enemies more formidable than the 49ers.

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They deemed a handful of the 2013 crew special, and had to pay premiums keep Thomas, cornerback Richard Sherman, defensive lineman Michael Bennett and, next offseason, quarterback Russell Wilson.

Most important: They seek to develop marginal players on the roster into frontliners.

The best example from Tuesday's conversation was James Carpenter, the 330-pound guard the Seahawks took in the first round four years ago who has yet to live up to his potential — except for the last few games of the past season and the Super Bowl. Carroll reserved his biggest gush for the progress of Carpenter, who dropped 15 pounds and actually appeared to move like a standard biped, only larger.

"He’s had a fantastic off-season," he said. "He’s been focused, he’s in it, and he’s moving like crazy. He doesn’t look like the same guy physically. He’s looked the best he’s ever looked by far right now.

"So we’re really fired up about James. He’s excited about it too. He feels great, he’s the smartest he’s been, he understands the most, and he feels the best. That’s all great stuff for us.”

Carpenter's right knee has been injured, affecting his balance. But now he's healthy. If that stays true, the Seahawks have added an almost-new, first-round-caliber lineman.

When many declared Carpenter a bust, Carroll and offensive-line assistant coach Tom Cable stayed with the big guy, perhaps now creating a player where once there appeared to be a stiff.

Doesn't always work that way. But with these guys, it happens more than most.

if you were listening to President Obama's salute to the Seahawks at the White House last week, he mentioned the four members of the Legion of Boom by name. He included Byron Maxwell, a sixth-round draft choice in 2011 who started 2013 as a third-stringer, and ended up replacing Brandon Browner and Walter Thurmond on the way to helping win a Super Bowl.

That's player development. And that's how a team can survive hubris of champions and the predations of free agency.

That's not a prediction. But it is the plan for handling a 2014 fist to the face.

Notes

The intriguing news of the day was Carroll's declaration of Thomas as the successor to the departed Golden Tate in returning punts. Thomas returned punts early in his college career at Texas, but has not done so in the NFL. Carroll also named Percy Harvin, Richard Sherman and Bryan Walters as competitors. Thomas was fired up: "I’ve been trying to tell Coach Carroll to put me back there for the longest," he said. "I always try to go back there during walk-throughs, just to try to sneak a punt return. I’m an offensive guy at heart. That’s why I don’t try to go out of bounds when I catch interceptions.” . . . Since OTA's are voluntary, no one was surprised Marshawn Lynch wasn't around. Asked if the media will see Lynch (who also skipped the White House ceremony), Carroll said, "You just may . . ." or may not. Others not around for personal reasons were defensive end Cliff Avril and QB Tarvaris Jackson.

Art Thiel is co-founder of Sportspressnw.com, a former sports columnist for The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, and author of the 2003 regional best seller about the Seattle Mariners, Out of Left Field.


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