When the Seahawks traded for Jimmy Graham during the 2015 offseason, it sent shockwaves throughout the entire NFL. The Seahawks were just coming off their second straight Super Bowl appearance, so adding a dynamic offensive weapon like Graham would just propel the team even more. But the move did not come without growing pains.
Graham had only found the end zone two times in his first season with the Seahawks. His season ended after he suffered a ruptured patellar tendon in his knee during Week 12 of 2015. Graham spent that entire offseason rehabbing to potentially play in 2016. Remarkably, Graham was ready for Week 1 of the 2016 season.
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Graham played in all 16 games last season, putting up 923 yards on 65 receptions, racking up six touchdowns. But Graham was still dealing with the consequences of his injury, head coach Pete Carroll told ESPN’s Sheil Kapadia.
“We had to manage him the whole year,” Carroll said. “He just kept hanging in there. He played in every game and didn’t miss any time, but he wasn’t at his best. You can see him now. But that’s what great athletes, great performers and great competitors do. They find a way. Jimmy did that most admirably, and I know how grateful he feels now that he made it through that and we handled it the way we did. He survived it, and now he is really moving up.”
Now that Graham has the injury completely in the past, he could be looking at a big year in 2017. Without having to rehab his knee all summer, he was able to work out with quarterback Russell Wilson during the offseason and build chemistry. One aspect of their game that the two worked on was their efficiency in the red zone.
The coaches have also worked on getting Graham better results inside the 20-yard line. One thing the coaches have stressed is giving Graham the opportunities to make plays. Offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell talked about Graham last week.
“Give him opportunities,” Bevell said. “That’s what we’re always looking for, always trying to do. It’s a learning process for Russ and for Jimmy and the plays and how he fits into those plays. So, it’s a learning process there.”
Graham has lost 20 pounds heading into 2017, now weighing around 260 pounds. This is an attempt to continue to play at a high level as he continues to get older. This shows how much healthier he is this year than he was last year heading into the season.
In an interview on 710 ESPN Seattle’s John Clayton Show, Graham said that in the week leading up to a game last season, he would rehab twice a day and was almost always limited in practice.
Now that he is fully participating in practice, Wilson will be able to trust him more during games, which could lead to more targets. Last week, Wilson talked about the difference in Graham from last year to this year.
“Jimmy and I were just talking about that in the locker room,” Wilson said. “We were just talking about how much smoother everything is, how much confidence he has, how much confidence me and him have together. He had a great year last year, and we’re looking forward to even a better year this year.”
If Graham sees more targets this year, especially in the red zone, he could see an increase in touchdowns. And he could also be looking at the third 1,000-yard season in his career.