Now Carlson won't even get the chance.
Seattle coach Pete Carroll announced Tuesday that Carlson would need shoulder surgery to repair a torn labrum and will miss the entire 2011 season.
Carlson had missed the past two weeks of training camp after injuring his shoulder. Carroll gave no timeline for when the surgery would take place or how long Carlson would be out, but it comes as Carlson was entering the final year of his contract with the Seahawks.
"We were so excited about having Zach (Miller) and John play together, you know, and unfortunately that's not going to happen now," Carroll said. "It's disappointing because John's had a great start to camp. He was rocking and rolling and those two guys out there together looked really good."
Carlson's need for surgery will likely open a roster spot for either Dominique Byrd or Anthony McCoy, with last year's surprising standout, Cameron Morrah, likely beginning the season on the physically-unable-to-perform list.
Seattle planned on using two tight end sets with Miller and Carlson as the main options. Carlson was coming off a disappointing third season when he caught 31 passes and only one touchdown. Carlson did catch a pair of touchdowns in Seattle's playoff upset of New Orleans, but was carted off the field a week later in Chicago after suffering a serious concussion.
"Anthony (McCoy) has done a very good job and Dominique Byrd has done extremely well in catching the football and getting open," Carroll said. "We're certainly going to miss John. We were really counting on him having a fantastic year for us."
While Carlson is a significant injury, the tight end position is one of the deepest on Seattle's roster. The same can't be said for Seattle's rebuilt offensive line that's been the biggest concern for the Seahawks through the preseason.
Rookie James Carpenter was exposed in last Saturday's loss in Denver, but offensive line coach Tom Cable believes Friday's exhibition finale against Oakland is about Seattle's entire line and not just his rookie right tackle.
"It's an ultimatum for the group because you don't have any more practice games, you don't have any more do-overs," Cable said on Tuesday. "That's been our approach this week is just to go back to work. We don't panic."
Seattle's offensive line slogged through its first two games struggling to give new quarterback Tarvaris Jackson any time to throw. But those struggles were amplified against Denver and the pass rushing duo of Elvis Dumervil and Von Miller. Carpenter got picked on the most as he struggled moving laterally to pick up the quick pass rushers.
Cable said Seattle had kept much of its gameplan basic in order to see what it's young and inexperienced line could do without much help. But it became obvious something will need to be done on the right side, whether it's giving Carpenter more help or perhaps making a change.
Breno Giacomini spent some time playing with the starters in Denver in place of Carpenter and the duo split some time again on Tuesday.
"Giacomini has done a nice job. He's put together a really good preseason. He's been very solid. He hasn't played against all the same guys all the time, but he has had a very solid preseason. He's been around a little bit more. We want to make sure that he has the opportunity to show and see if he can help us. So we give him some opportunities with the first group."
Carroll also confirmed the team hosted former Dallas center Andre Gurode for a visit on Tuesday, but didn't expand on if or how Gurode could fit in. Seattle is going mostly young, with its intended starting line featuring two rookies, second-year tackle Russell Okung, third-year center Max Unger and veteran Robert Gallery.
"He's had a great career. It kind of ended suddenly, abruptly (with Dallas) for him and he got caught in this deal and not sure where he fits, so he wanted to take a look around and see what's out there," Carroll said. "We've had guys come in almost every day and we'll continue to do that."