NFL offseasons are all about hope for the future. Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll is already a glass-half-full guy anyway, so there's a chance he was overly optimistic Wednesday in suggesting the team's top pass-rusher could be available for the 2013 regular-season opener, counter to previous expectations.
Chris Clemons possibly returning from ACL surgery for Week 1 is worth our attention regardless.
"Yes, he does have a shot to be ready, according to the doctor," Carroll told reporters. "Like I said from the beginning, we're not going to rush it. We’ll make sure he’s really well and ready to go and all of that, but he is well ahead of schedule and he’s in great shape and so we’re really pleased."
Dropping the phrases "according to the doctor" and "well ahead of schedule" gives us something more to go on than the standard post-surgery optimism.
Clemons' recovery timetable has taken on added performance since the Seahawks learned fellow defensive end Bruce Irvin would miss the first four games of the regular season while serving a four-game NFL suspension.
Seattle is not going to rush Clemons back to fill the void, but having Clemons available even in a situational role would help. He ranks tied for sixth in the NFL since 2010 with 33.5 sacks. The chart shows where he ranked last season among current Seattle players, some of whom played elsewhere in 2012.
Clemons suffered a torn ACL during the Seahawks' Jan. 6 playoff game at Washington. The Seahawks open the 2013 regular season Sept. 8, eight months (245 days) after Clemons suffered the injury.
Seattle has options with Clemons. The team could carry him on its active roster heading into the season if Clemons passes a physical in time. If Clemons does not pass a physical, the Seahawks could place him on their physically unable to perform (PUP) list, in which case Clemons would have to miss the first six games of the season. He could then return to game action as late as Week 15 under a revised PUP rule proposed this offseason.