By Brady Henderson
The Seahawks have a glut of pass rushers after adding Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett in free agency.
That's part of the reason why they're in no hurry to get Chris Clemons back on the field even though he's apparently progressing nicely in his recovery from a torn knee ligament.
The Seahawks are playing it safe with Chris Clemons as he recovers from a knee injury he sustained in January. (AP)
Clemons, the Seahawks' most productive pass rusher in each of the past three seasons, tore the ACL and meniscus in his left knee during the team's playoff game against the Redskins in early January.
The timing and nature of that injury make his availability for the start of next season a question mark. The good news for Seattle, though, is that the recovery timetable for ACL injuries has become increasingly shorter. Seahawks guard James Carpenter, for example, was back by Week 1 of last season after suffering a torn ACL in mid-November. Clemons also has a reputation as a quick healer, having returned from previous injuries earlier than expected.
"He's way ahead of schedule. He's in great shape," Carroll said. "These guys are recovering so fast now from the ACL surgeries, and he's one of those guys. So we're thrilled about what's going on. He looks great right now, but we'll take our time."
It isn't entirely clear how the Seahawks plan to use Avril, a pass rusher they feel has the versatility to play strong-side linebacker as well. Ditto for Bruce Irvin, whose role is expected to expand after being used mostly in a situational pass-rushing role as a rookie last season.
Either way, those two make the Seahawks better equipped than other teams to survive the loss of their best pass rusher, even for an extended period of time. Avril has 29 sacks over the past three seasons. Irvin had eight last year to lead all rookies. Carroll expects him to make significant strides in his second season, noting how much he's improved physically over the offseason and that the team plans to move him around more in order to create favorable pass-rushing matchups.
"Cliff Avril and Bruce will take the load on the edge for us rushing until he gets back. Getting Cliff really did help us take the pressure off Clem wanting to come back and help this football team," Carroll said. "So we're going to be able to do this really well and take our time with it. It should work out great. We just don't want to rush it. We don't need to."