Carlson puts in the work this offseason

Seattle has a history of under-utilizing the tight end position, but a rash of injuries made rookie TE John Carlson the leading receiver on the team in 2008. Now entering year two of his NFL career, the talented receiver is working hard on the other aspects of his game and he spoke recently about things including what the acquisition of WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh has meant to him...

"For me, going into my second year, it's great to see a guy who's proven himself in this league, who's been around for a while, really go after it in situations like that in mini-camps, in OTA's," Carlson told KIRO 710 AM's John Clayton on Saturday. "That to me tells me that this guy's made it, but he's still working, he's still proving himself, so for me as a second-year player I need to be up to that level and be ready to compete every day.

"It's to our advantage to have a taller receiver making plays down the field, getting open and going over smaller defensive backs, but the thing to me that sticks out most about T.J. is how competitive he is.

"Even in mini-camps and OTA's and every drill that I witnessed over the offseason, he's always competitive, he's always going 100% percent and it's fun to play with a guy like that and I think it will be good for us this season."

Carlson came from a pro-set offense at Notre Dame, one installed by former New England Patriots offensive coordinator Charlie Weis who took the helm of the Irish program back in 2005, and he said that has helped ease his transition to the NFL.

"Some things like adjusting routes based on coverage or audibling based on the defensive front, we did some of that stuff in college so that helps," Carlson said. "At this level you always have to read defenses and there are audibles all the time so the complexity of the game in the NFL is much greater than at the college level, but I do feel that coach Weis did help ease my transition a little bit."

Mike Holmgren's offense didn't use the tight end as much as new offensive coordinator Greg Knapp will, but Carlson noted it's still the same philosophy.

"There's quite a bit of carry over because it's still technically the West Coast offense, but in terms of new things, coach Knapp brings a few different nuances to my position specifically," Carlson noted. "We'll shift a lot pre-snap and move and motion and do different things to give defenses different looks and I think that's to my advantage.

"Sometimes it's hard as a tight end and in the down position to really get a clean release off the line of scrimmage, but doing those shifts and motions and things like that will help me get a better release and hopefully get downfield and make some plays."

As a rookie it's pretty rare for anyone to lead at team in receptions, much less a tight end, but that's exactly what Carlson did leading the team in catches (55), yards (627) and touchdowns (5) in his first season.

"I think it is rare, but I think people that have been around and that have watched football for a long time and the Seahawks specifically will notice we had a tremendous number of injuries and I was fortunate enough to be on the field the most," Carlson said. "We had a lot of guys hurt at the wide receiver position and I was lucky to be on the field a lot. I had some opportunities to make plays, but a lot of that was a function of the injury situation.

"As a second year guy and now that I've got my feet wet, I want to be in that position, I want to make plays and help the offense and help the team win and hopefully I have that opportunity this year."

This offseason Carlson mentioned his focus has been on his blocking and how to be more effective and consistent in that area.

"In college I did block a lot and that was a focus of mine, but making the jump from college to the pros is a significant jump," Carlson recalled. "There were some games that I felt I blocked pretty well and some games that I really struggled, so that's been something I've focused on this offseason – technique, footwork and hand placement – it's so important at this level because every defensive end is bigger and stronger than me. I'm not going to overpower anyone, so technique is really important."

Whatever happens in year-two of his career, Carlson won't be caught off guard because he didn't work hard.

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