After months of brutal rehab for a busted knee, Jimmy Graham returned to practice on Wednesday. He got on the mic afterwards and told reporters about what he's been through to get to this point. Then it was offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell's turn. Here's what they had to say, in their words.
- On how it felt to run out onto the field: It's probably the best it has ever felt. When you're away from it for as long as I have been it is very sweet when you get the opportunity to do it again.
- On what the hardest part of the rehab and comeback was: There were some dark days. It's been eight months. It has been a constant eight months. I've never been through something that every day you had to do something for it. Every day you wake up and until you go to bed you are doing some type of rehab. It's been like that for me for like eight months and it will continue to be like that for me for the next eight months. It is something that I will always have to pay attention to. It's a part of life now. It makes me appreciate the game even more than I did. You know, just being out there today, I am full of passion, full of fire. I get goose-bumps just walking outta that door. It was a great day.
- On when he had the cast on: I didn't have a cast on it: It was immobilized for about ten to twelve weeks. So if you can imagine not walking for eleven or twelve weeks. You know, even after that it was kind of learning how to walk again. Learning how to stand and all that stuff.
- On if he knew immediately it was a bad injury: Yeah, the pain was terrible. When you look down at your knee and you don't see your knee cap something is wrong.
- On what he has learned about his specific injury: For me one of the biggest battles is mentally. You have good days and bad days. Randomly you'll feel good for weeks then have a bad day when you feel really sore. You end up questioning yourself like am I doing the right thing? Why is this so hard? Especially for me in my career I feel like a lot of things have come easy. I've always just been athletic and fast and to have to learn how to walk again has been very humbling, that's for sure. I've learned patience and staying mentally strong every day, set goals, and never get frustrated with the process, kinda embrace the process.
- On how he processes the injury that has been hard for other guys to come back from: I don't label myself or this injury as anything. I know everyday I'm going to work. I know every day I have worked how quickly I have felt better and come back from it so far. It is an everyday grind. I think I am a little different. I am still fast which is real good.
- On if he has personal timelines for when he wants to get back: No, not right now. The biggest timeline was to get on the field and to start the connection with Russell again. That was the biggest goal for me for the last three months, how soon can I get out here and start this connection with Russ? For me that is the most important thing and the second was to get out here for my group and for my tight ends. How quickly can I get back on, so you know, just show them how I work as well.
- On his perspective on the inconsistencies with trying to work into the offense: Last year I think across the board it was a rough start for all for all of us. Towards the middle to the end we turned it on and everything was clicking and working. Every season has its own challenges and this team had a ton of challenges early last year. You can feel the buzz through OTA's, mini-camp and this. It's a different mentality this year. The guys have bonded and everybody is one. I don't think you'll see that this year.
- On if he has talked to anyone else who has gone through the same injury and rehab: Yeah, one of my old tackles had it out there in New Orleans and Victor Cruz spoke to me about it and talked to me early in the process. Obviously he has been through it. One of the bigger things is injuring something else coming off of this. That is why I have been doing a full body rehab. The longest I have taken off from working out in my entire career is two weeks. So to have to have months of off I guess the rest of my body had time to heal as well.
- On how long he had to keep his leg straight: My leg was straight for about eleven to twelve weeks.
- On how many times he has had a surgery before: I have had one other surgery on my wrist. For living down the middle and getting hit as hard as I get hit because people don't really like me I've been lucky.
- On if Victor Cruz gave him any advice or tips on avoiding secondary injuries: It's one of those things where you don't want to rush it back. You want to take your time and come back when you're ready. That's why I wasn't out here day one. I've been running for a long time and I've been running routes, cutting hard. To me the rehab is twice as hard as practice has ever been. Just grinding through all these agilities. I'm running 36-50's out here, you know that is not fun at all. For me, just take my time and don't feel rushed. Everybody in the organization has been great about that. They've all been awesome taking the time and being patient with making sure the knee is strong enough.
- On when he would have tried to come back if he was rushing considering some are surprised he is back this soon: I would have tried to come back a long time ago because I am a knucklehead. We've done it right. We've done it safe. This is time for me to start the connection with Russ and I think we both felt it. I've been out here busting my butt every morning and afternoon so you know it's time.
- On how he got through the toughest part which was the mental aspect: Close friends and family really helped me through this. Not only that but it is really interesting with this team, a lot of teams when you are hurt they kinda make you leave the building or they want you to go get rehab somewhere because they don't want you to be lingering around. But this team and everyone of my teammates just uplifted me the entire time. I'm talking about Richard Sherman everyday comes into that training room and encourages me. Every time I am out here running he steps out here. You know, Luke Willson, Pat [ McPherson tight end coach], everybody has been nothing but positive. Nothing but encouraging about everything. Telling me how much I mean to them, how much they can't wait to get me back.
- On if the injury kept him from flying for a while: Yeah, I didn't fly for a long time. About after twelve to thirteen weeks I said either you give me a knee brace that will help me fit into this plane or I'm just gonna do it without it so they gave me a knee brace way back. I was able to fly pretty early. In all my maneuvers I just flew left instead of right.
- On if there is anything he needs to see or do to know he is back to being Jimmy Graham of old: I can't wait for that first touchdown honestly. That will probably be the sweetest moment for me. To overcome this and to do it the way I have done it, to know how much went into it, I mean I have done nothing but this and I have dedicated every second of every day to this. I have a rehab facility at my house now, big tax breaks there. That's all I've been doing.
- On if there was a moment last season when he felt like it was starting to click: Yeah. Even in that game [Steelers] you know I think we were just clicking as a whole in that game on all cylinders and we just started believing and trusting in each other. Things were clicking in that game and that game was a huge turning point. This year is all about starting fast. That's super important you know because this division is important to get this home field.
- On watching the offense after he got hurt: It's tough. Sitting at home watching in that pain and dealing with that every day. For me that was probably the hardest part of this entire thing was to know I couldn't be out there helping us out, especially when we made it to the playoffs just not being able to do my job. I've never had that in my career so the first time to sit at home and just watch was probably the toughest thing I have ever been through.
- On potentially having mixed feelings watching Russell and the offense go ballistic after he got hurt: Oh yeah, you wanna be, when a team and offense is clicking like that you want to be out there. That makes the game fun. I've been through many, many games like that where you just feel like you are unstoppable and you feel like no one can stop you no matter what you do out there. So I'm excited to get that and be a part of that.
- On if he knows how he got hurt, whether his legs got tangled or something else: I don't know. I haven't watched the film and I probably never will. Coming off the sideline, getting back out there, you know being kinda stiff, being 275 lbs at the time running go-routes is probably not the smartest thing. I've lost some weight and I'll be ready this time that's for sure.
- On what it meant to be part of Russell's wedding party: It meant a lot. Over the last year and a half have been through a lot. Russell has been there for me through some tough times in my list. You know, I've been through quite a bit over the last year and a half, you know personally and on the field. He's a guy that stood by me in all those moments even with the passing of a very close person to me. For me it meant a lot and that's why I flew half way around the world for it.
- On where his weight is at right now: 260 lbs. Back to my young weight which is good. I lost about 15 lbs.
- On if there is any doubt he will play in the opener: I can't answer that. I am not allowed to answer that.
- On having a lot of running backs out recovering from injuries: It is tough for the guys that are down. There are really things we need to see from those guys. We haven't been able to get a good look at them as this point. We've also done a few things. We've got a look at more guys. We've got [George] Farmer on our side of the ball now. He's got really nice skills and ability. He's got some of what we are asking him to do in our past. It was nice to see him pick up some pressures and get into some pass routes in some of these live periods.
- On having Jimmy Graham back: It is exciting. I think it uplifts the whole team. Particularly to have a guy like Rawls back, a guy like Jimmy back, it picks up everybody. Still gotta be smart with them.
- On incorporating Jimmy into the offense last year and it seeming like there were issues early on to do so: I wouldn't see it that way. I think we were doing him a good job of getting him involved. The one thing is we don't throw it the same amount of times that New Orleans does. There was a good percentage going to him. Cool thing about our offense is we have a lot of skill guys returning, a lot of guys at similar positions, there is some good rapport already built up with Doug, Jermaine, Tyler and Jimmy and Luke and we don't feel like we have to force feed it to anybody. Never before I don't think have I had a guy who has had one hundred catches and I don't foresee it being that way. If we can spread the ball out and everybody is making plays for us then I think we are a much more effective offense that way rather than trying to force feed that guy.
- On if he thinks the offense could have been better had Jimmy be around: Well we think he is a huge part of us, yeah absolutely. We know that we are better with him. We know we are a great talent. He does so many things well for us and he would have just been another part of that.
- On what he is looking for from the offense in the first preseason game: There are going to be a lot of guys with opportunities to play and we want to give them the best opportunity to execute at the highest level they are able to do. We are not going to over load them. We want to be able to see their skills and abilities take over. Obviously they have to have some retention of the plays and see how they react in live situations and them make corrections and adjustments. We just want to go out and play clean.
- On how much of the full offense does Boykin know and can he employ: I've been really pleased with him. He's done a really nice job. From the system that he has come in from and to come into our system, when he was not calling plays in the huddle, sometimes that can really hamper young QB's. I think he's done a nice job of coming in, studying the playbook, being on the words and verbage he has to repeat in the huddle. That will be a cool thing to watch in the game. There's not going to be a coach standing there to make sure he is saying it right. Once he's broken the huddle he has done a really nice job of okay now I can focus on what's going on, where everyone is going. And I think he has really played well out here. We've got good competition at that position. Jake Heaps is pushing him as well. Both of those guys are making big splash out here.
- On how Boykin is with the quick read and quick release offense that started last year: He's been good. Yeah, he's been really good at it. I think he sees the field well. That's similar to some of the style he played at TCU so it's not foreign to him. He's got a big arm so there are throws he's willing to make that some young guys aren't willing to make so we haven't seen hesitation that way either. So he's done a great job for us.
- On if we will have enough healthy running backs to run the ball on Sunday: It remains to be seen. There will be guys back there for sure. There will be guys that we want to see and we want to get out of it but as the week progresses here we'll see who will actually be there and how we want to play it.
- On if Webb is okay: As far as I know everything is okay.
- On how viable it is to have an undrafted rookie as your number two running back: It's going to be a good process for him to go through these next four games. That is going to speak volumes for him. Obviously we are getting a great opportunity going against our defense every day. That is a great challenge for him. He's been able to hold his own. Then he'll have to continue to progress and get through the preseason and show us he has a great handle on it and this will be his first test coming up.
- On Jahri Evans: Just got a quick look. We need to give him an opportunity to get comfortable with what we are doing before we make too big of an evaluation.
- On where things stand at fullback now that Cottom is out: Giving guys opportunities. We've moved Tani over there on this side. We've got a couple of other guys that we are working in. It still may continue to be a revolving door and we've just gotta see how that ends up shaking out. We have a lot of tight ends as well that we might give opportunities to move around and the more versatile you can be the more it helps us.
- On how much catch up Prosise will have to have: There's a lot. There's a lot that is going to be on his plate. The good part is he is out here at practice so he is getting the mental reps part of it. We're really testing him on the parts that we can. Then he will have to see how he carries it over to the field when he starts taking snaps. He's doing a good job with the mental part but it's a whole nother thing when you break the huddle to actually go up to the line of scrimmage and actually function. He's got a lot of time to makeup.
@1j_reed Everything is ok I'm perfectly fine ..see ya tomorrow out there 12s
My Retirement Notice:
I thank you all for really enjoying the notes I have been able to write. I love that my work which started elsewhere got me the opportunity to write on Field Gulls. At this time the writing out of the transcripts of these press conferences is just taking up so much of my time (typically two hours on average a day) that I am started to get overwhelmed by it. Not to mention the monotony of writing down everything the players and coaches say which has typically been fed through their public relations training. I have noticed a lot of other outlets (Twitter, local sports journalists, even the daily "News, Notes, Tweets, Observations" articles posted here on Field Gulls) cover enough of what is said in these pressers that I don't need to be spending so much time dictating out everything. So again I thank you for enjoying my work and I have enjoyed my time doing it and interacting with the Field Gulls readership. Now excuse me while I go and try to throw a pair of shoes on a telephone wire and take a picture of it to post onto twitter.