Last Sunday, second-round wide receiver Paul Richardson joined fellow rookie receiver Kevin Norwood and second-year running back Christine Michael on the inactive list.
Carroll said he will try to get the league to change the game-day roster rule next offseason, but — as roster choices are being questioned in the wake of the offense’s ongoing struggles — he said he is not going to change his game-day personnel.
Because Bryan Walters is the punt returner, he has been active over Norwood — and Richardson last week. For some reason, Walters has been on the field in key situations in close games — and he hasn’t made any plays. After catching two passes on five targets vs. Denver, he caught one of three vs. Dallas. He also was involved in an odd busted play that seemed to be a perfect example of why the Hawks need to refine their rotations.
Carroll admitted the Hawks have little rhyme or reason to how they use their offensive personnel.
“If you notice, we’re randomly kind of going about our substitutions,” he said. “Sometimes we get the guys that are exactly the right guys, sometimes we don’t. It depends on what happened the play before or the couple plays before.”
Asked whether he might consider changing the punt returner to get Richardson or Norwood active, Carroll said, “We’re going to keep moving like we’re moving. I like the way things are going, with the exception of them not being available to us.
“We’d love to have those guys playing. They practice like starters — they really do — and they’re really top-notch guys. It kills me.”
As for Michael, a 2013 second-round pick who hardly played as a rookie and has been inactive in every game this season, Carroll said, “He’s kind of in the same boat as Kevin and Paul. We’d love to get him out there. Everything has just stayed so static for us in a sense with guys being healthy that he hasn’t had the opportunity yet. He’s practiced really well. He’s working really hard at it. He’s frustrated and he wants to get out there and help his team, too, and play ball. And we are too. We’d love to see him get out there.”
That took Carroll back to his argument for making the entire roster available.
“Why do we have a limited number of guys dressing every week?” he said. “These guys are fantastic players that work their tails off. Why can’t we have 53 guys dress and get them all out there? Everybody could do that. We’re paying them, they’re practicing and they’re ready. If for nothing else, to help other guys stay healthy longer, get more rotation so that guys can stay healthy and contribute.
“Those are three great guys,” Carroll said of his young skill players, “and there are a couple other guys who are ready to play football for us right now. They would be in games, they’d be getting the chance to catch the ball, cover kicks, carry the football. But, because of the restrictions of the numbers, we can’t do that.”