When Seattle Seahawks tight end Jimmy Graham tore his patellar tendon against the Pittsburgh Steelers last year, the first thought by many was, “Is this the end of his career?” After all, Victor Cruz of the New York Giants has not played since tearing his patellar tendon 26 games ago. However, news about the injury and subsequent rehab has mostly been positive in the months since, including an expectation that Graham would not even miss a single game in 2016 because of it.
That expectation took a pretty big hit on Wednesday.
Via ESPN’s Sheil Kapadia, head coach Pete Carroll said, “Really we're shooting for: Where is he at the start of the season? And we'll evaluate then on how much longer it may take, or he may be ready. We don't know that yet. But he feels good."
Despite saying that there have been “no issues at all” since Graham returned off of the PUP last week, Carroll sounds hesitant to confirm or deny that he’ll be ready to play against the Miami Dolphins on September 11. He’s already been ruled out of their preseason game against the Minnesota Vikings on Thursday, though that — and that Graham would miss the entire preseason — has been expected for months.
If Graham isn’t ready to go by Week 1, it will mean increased reps for Luke Willson, Nick Vannett, and perhaps Brandon Williams, the hard-charging free agent pickup who seems a lock to make the roster, all but easing the mind of Carroll and his coaching staff should Graham not be ready in three weeks. Even if Graham is full-go for Week 1, he likely still won’t be true “full go” all season. The team has no reason to be anything other than cautious with the tight end, hoping to avoid the long rash of subsequent injuries like those suffered by Cruz.
"We don't have a timetable for this that he has to meet any schedule at all. We're just working him back, and he's gaining confidence, and it's really important not to have any setbacks. So we're being careful.
"With three really big weeks coming up here, we'll see how he goes. We'll be continuing to progress him more with the action around him and stuff. He's doing fine running routes and catching balls, and he looks good doing all that stuff."