In interesting, but not altogether too surprising news, John Schneider and Pete Carroll both revealed this morning on local radio that once James Carpenter gets healthy (which may or may not even be this season) he'll be making a move to left guard -- Pete Carroll said 'one of the guard spots' on Brock and Salk, Schneider said left guard, on with Mitch Levy. This makes some sense, I think, with the emergence of Breno Giacomini as a viable option and combined with the struggles that Carpenter had at the right tackle spot. Carpenter made his pay as Alabama's left tackle, taking on the SEC's finest, and so some have posited that he'd do better on the left side, at guard. This has been explained in that learning to play on the right, - footwork, hand placement, general movement - verses the left is akin to learning to shoot a basketball with your opposite hand (or for you extreme sports enthusiasts, perhaps similar to learning to ride 'switch' in snowboarding or skateboarding).
Frankly, I can see it, as someone that's dabbled in basketball and snowboarding over the years. When you're used to moving your legs and feet in concert with your hands and balance in one direction, switching it to the other side can be, ... strange? At least, it could take some getting used to. We'll give him the benefit of the doubt that a learning curve, at least, would be involved. Now, Carpenter did play at left guard in Week One last season against San Francisco and if memory serves, it wasn't an overly encouraging performance. That said, again, it was week one, after a lockout, with a bunch of dudes that had never played together before with zero established run game and a quarterback that tends to hold on to the ball for too long against the best front seven in the NFL, so... I don't know, how much can you really determine from that game?
I think that in time, Carpenter can emerge as a quality guard in the NFL and if we're looking deep into the future of this team (or not), as Thomas has repeatedly noted here at Field Gulls, for Russell Wilson to tap into his potential as a quarterback, it's going to be very, very important to get solid guard play. It will become essential to keeping the pocket clean and to create nice, open passing lanes. As you know, Drew Brees has benefitted from probably the best guard tandem in the NFL over the past couple of seasons in Carl Nicks and Jahri Evans, and the importance of this cannot be overstated for a quarterback with height deficiencies.
Because of this, in the long run, I'm encouraged by the move because I do think that Carpenter is a talented lineman, a powerful, powerful man. His strengths should lend him to, in theory, do a little better on the interior, in more closed spaces where his athleticism and ferocity can be better used against tackles and not every team's best speed rusher. Combined with the re-signing of Max Unger, should Carpenter emerge as a force at guard, the Seahawks might have a nice interior line to work with. I realize this is a huge cart before the horse scenario, but it's one that I believe the Seahawks may have in mind.