By Danny O'Neil
RENTON – Guard James Carpenter didn't return to the Seahawks this week as the team began its offseason conditioning program, but that's only because he never left Seattle.
Carpenter remained in town working out to prepare for the upcoming season after finishing each of his first two years on injured reserve.
"He's very, very strong right now," general manager John Schneider said. "From what they tell me, he's the strongest guy on our team."
Carpenter was Seattle's first-round pick in 2011, chosen No. 25 overall to be a mauling right tackle. He was out of shape after the lockout, but by the second half of the season was showing real progress until he suffered a serious knee injury during a one-on-one pass-blocking drill during practice. He was placed on injured reserve after nine games.
There was some question whether Carpenter would make it back to play last season, but his rehab progressed to the point he returned to the field Week 4 at St. Louis. He had changed positions, sliding inside to play guard, and he started seven games before reinjuring the knee in Week 13 at Chicago. He was again placed on injured reserve.
Where do things stand for Carpenter now?
"It's going to be a pure confidence thing for him," Schneider said. "The whole thing is going to be his lower body, flexibility, movement and strength."
Defensive end Chris Clemons' status is a little less certain. He is coming back from a torn knee ligament suffered during Seattle's playoff victory at Washington. Schneider said the training staff indicated Clemons was progressing, but it was too soon to tell whether he would be ready to be on the active roster when the season begins in September.
"He's doing great," Schneider said of Clemons. "He's a quick healer – I can't tell you how he's going to fit in there. Obviously, we'll know more in two months."