They all told him about the dreaded rookie wall. He hit it, then emerged stronger.
Carlson had 25 of his 55 receptions, a 100-yard receiving game at Dallas and three of his five touchdowns after Week 10. By season’s end, he had set franchise records for a tight end in catches and yards (627).
“I think the thing that surprised me the most was how the length of the season affected me,” he said. “Everyone that I talked to, my former teammates, they all told me that as a rookie you kind of hit a wall around Week 8, 9 or 10.
“Up to Week 8, I was like, ‘Wow, the season is almost half done.’ When I got to Week 8, I was like, ‘Wow, this season is only half done.’ Once I overcame that hurdle, things started to go a little better for me.”
Carlson, who returns to Indiana to face the Colts on Sunday, is off to a strong start with 15 catches for 169 yards. He had his first two-score game in a season-opening win against St. Louis.
“Unfortunately you can’t just multiply things in the NFL, because injuries come into play,” he said. “Otherwise, after Week 1, I would have been really happy. I was on pace for 32 touchdowns.”
As a rookie on a team ravaged by injuries, Carlson had the most receptions. This year, he’s second to wide receiver Nate Burleson’s 20.
Carlson credits working in the Charlie Weis pro-style offense at Notre Dame for preparing him to make the transition to the NFL.
“His offense that he brought from New England has a lot of checks and reads and audibles, and that’s the kind of stuff you have to do in the NFL,” Carlson said. “I’m glad I got a little bit of a taste of that in college so it wasn’t completely new to me.”
Seahawks coach Jim Mora likes how Carlson puts the team first. Ask about last year, the tight end doesn’t bring up his numbers. He recalls his team’s inability to finish close games and a 4-12 record.
“He’s a joy to be around,” Mora said. “Every day, for him it’s about being the best he can be and helping this team win. If he continues that way, and all indications are that he will, he has a chance to really be something special.
“That’s one of the things that attracted us to John in the first place. Besides the obvious talent on the field, it’s his character. And he hasn’t disappointed. He exhibits that every single day. He’s just a real quality person and certainly a good football player.”