The recoveries from season-ending injuries for Seahawks players Thomas Rawls and Jimmy Graham have gone as planned but it remains too early to establish a set timeline for their return, coach Pete Carroll said Tuesday.
“Everything’s going well, yeah,” Carroll said during the team’s annual pre-draft press conference. “Everything’s really in good shape. It’s just when they push to get back we are going to have to see what the timeline is, you know, so we can tell. It’s going good.”
Rawls suffered a broken ankle during a win at Baltimore on Dec. 13 while Graham suffered a torn patellar tendon in the win over Pittsburgh on Nov. 29.
While Carroll was vague about a timeline Tuesday, the team general feeling is that each could be ready for the beginning of the season — particularly Rawls, whose injury has a shorter timeframe for recovery — but that each might not participate much in the pre-season.
Our injury expert, Russell Manalastas, is fairly confident about Rawls being ready at some point in training camp, but predicts that Graham will be limited (at best) in Week 1 since it takes a while to recover from a torn patellar tendon. The tight end position is deep this year, so there is no reason to reach for Graham when there are plenty of good options available.
On how Thomas Rawls is doing in his recovery: “He’s doing really well. He should be fine and we anticipate that he’ll be fully recovered and ready to go at least by the time the season starts and hopefully by camp. Thomas had a terrific season. He just came out of nowhere and most people, they didn’t have any idea what he was going to do. He brought us attitude and style of play that we like. He was really physical and really tough, so we’re thrilled to have him coming back and we need to get him some help. Christine Michael re-signed with us which is a good thing; Christine did his best job of playing football for us in the short stint that he had. So those two guys will be the one-two punch right now and we’ll see where we go from there.”
On Jimmy Graham: “I’m communicating with Jimmy regularly. He should be fine. It is a substantial recovery. He’s doing great and he’s doing everything he needs to do, and he’s really competitive about it. We’re anticipating that he’ll come back and again we hope to have him by the start of the season. We’ll see how it goes as far as camp and all of that, but he’s an incredible football player and a great team member and we’re thrilled to have him on our club. We were just getting going with Jimmy last year, so we’ll be really excited to get him back in the lineup.”
Carroll sounded more optimistic about Rawls being ready for camp than he did of Graham. With Marshawn Lynch out of the way, Rawls is first in line for workhorse back duties given his performance in 2015. In the six games in which Rawls played and Lynch did not, the rookie averaged 20.5 touches for 120 yards and 0.84 touchdowns (on a stellar 5.6 YPC). That doesn't even include Week 3, when he turned 16 carries into 104 yards while Lynch was limited to five carries. Michael may form a "1-2 punch" with Rawls but we expect that Rawls will get the clear majority of the carries.
"It's too early to tell," he said. "It's a very significant injury."
Through the first 12 weeks, Graham was the #9 tight end in both standard and PPR formats. It was disappointing production given his history as a top fantasy threat, and now he has to recover from a torn patellar tendon injury. If he's healthy for training camp, we expect that he'll be one of the first 10-12 tight ends off the board on draft day.
The team announced the tight end inked a five-year contract extension on Monday, keeping him in Philadelphia through 2021.
NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported that the extension is worth $42.5 million, with $20 million in guarantees, which makes Ertz the fourth-highest paid tight end in average and guaranteed money, per a source. Jimmy Graham ($10 million), Julius Thomas ($9.2 million) and Rob Gronkowski ($9 million) are the top three in average per year.
Ertz finished as the #10 TE in standard scoring, but was #6 after his Week 8 bye, averaging 6.4 catches for 73 yards and 0.25 TD (on 8.8 targets per game) in his final eight games. On the season, he racked up 75 catches for 853 yards and two scores. Given his size and relative catch radius, his touchdown rate should increase eventually. Playing time was the issue in his first two NFL seasons, but he played 72% of the snaps in 2015 and 79% in his last five games.
Monday, November 30, 2015, 9:48am
Jimmy Graham tore the patellar tendon in his right knee in the fourth quarter of the Seahawks' win over the Pittsburgh Steelers. He'll have surgery, coach Pete Carroll said, and likely faces a long road to recovery that will extend deep into the offseason.
Graham caught 48 passes for 605 yards and two touchdowns. He's averaged 55 yards per game, which ranks ninth among tight ends. But there are a couple of areas where the Seahawks will need to make up for his production.
One is on third down. On Sunday, Russell Wilson hit Graham for a pair of 18-yard gains on third down. On the season, he's targeted Graham more than any other receiver (24 times) on third down, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Sixteen of those passes have resulted in completions, but Wilson will now have to look elsewhere.
The other area to keep an eye on is explosive plays. Graham has produced 11 gains of 20-plus yards, which is three more than he had all of last year with the New Orleans Saints. Graham ranks third among tight ends in explosive plays and leads the Seahawks.
The story said not much will change for the Seattle offense. Luke Willson will take over as the starting TE. Based on Graham's production, Wilson could have some lower TE1 fantasy value.
Seahawks tight end Jimmy Graham suffered a torn patellar tendon in Seattle's win over the Steelers and did not return to Seattle's thrilling 39-30 win. The injury will require surgery, coach Pete Carroll told reporters.
Graham was carted off in the fourth quarter with an air cast on his right leg after coming down awkwardly on a jump ball in the end zone.
It's been a rough first season in Seattle for Graham; the tight end is averaging just over four catches per game and has totaled two touchdowns in 10 games. Graham was having possibly his best outing of the season against Pittsburgh, which included a momentum-swinging 36-yard grab in the third quarter just two drives before his injury. Graham left with four catches for 75 yards.
As the story said, it's never a good sign when a player gets carted off with an air cast on -- a precaution typically used to prevent a serious injury from worsening. How long Graham will be out remains to be seen, but his absence on the streaking Seahawks' offense will be missed. Luke Willson would fill in for Graham but hasn't been used a whole lot this season catching 11 balls for 140 yards and a TD before this week.
"I'm disappointed," Carroll said, per ESPN Seattle. "Because we really have had the intent, just like you would think, exactly like you guys think, like everybody thinks. We want him to be a big part of the offense."
There's no reason to panic about Graham. He had a quiet Week 2, but he had quiet weeks in New Orleans as well. He caught six passes for 51 yards and a TD in Week 1, and after complaining about his role in Week 2, he's likely to produce against a very shaky Bears defense.
Monday, August 31, 2015, 8:24pm
He had two catches for 24 yards on five targets Saturday night. Graham has played 52 preseason snaps, and he's been used as a run blocker 36.5 percent of the time. The results have been mixed.
On an early Marshawn Lynch 3rd-and-1 carry, the Seahawks didn't generate any kind of push, and Graham let a defender slip past him as the run was stopped short of a first down. He did a good job on Robert Turbin's 7-yard run in the first.
But in the third, Graham looked like he was unsure of which defender to block, and a defensive lineman went right past him in the red zone to drop Turbin for a 7-yard loss. In other words, Graham appears to be a work in progress as a run blocker.
If the Seahawks can keep Graham on the field in running situations, it will only help to open the passing game for play-action passes which is where Graham could thrive.
For all the issues the Seattle Seahawks still have to work out on offense, the chemistry between their quarterback and top pass-catcher isn't one of them.
It was again evident Friday night in Seattle's 14-13 preseason loss to Kansas City. Jimmy Graham caught all three passes that Russell Wilson threw his way during the two quarters in which the Seahawks' offensive starters played, but one of them stood out.
Lined up in the slot on second-and-18, Graham released up the seam against tight coverage from safety Ron Parker. Graham wasn't open when Wilson delivered a perfectly placed pass toward his back shoulder for a 21-yard gain. Then again, he didn't need to be.
"He's hard to miss, being 6-7 and being able to show up and run as fast as he can," Wilson told reporters.
Call it whatever you'd like -- chemistry, trust, rapport -- but Wilson and Graham certainly seem to have built plenty of it already, the story said. It's good news for those who were worried about Graham switching offenses. It sure looks like he's going to be a key part of the Seattle offense, too, and is of course one of the top TEs in fantasy drafts.
“He’s added a new dimension to our offense,” offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell told Peter King. “He’s been amazing. Awesome. He’ll help on third down, help in the red zone. In some of those areas you feel like he will be able to be a big factor. I think he will have the effect that you imagine a tight end would, pulling some coverage, and maybe changing some stuff for guys outside and guys other places as well.”
Graham finished with 85 catches for 889 yards and 10 touchdowns, but his season was somewhat disappointing, especially down the stretch. He averaged 4.0 catches for 44 yards and 0.2 TD in his final five games, including a weird zero-target goose egg in Week 13 against Pittsburgh. Now he heads to Seattle, where the Seahawks have been looking to upgrade at tight end for a while. Graham's value takes a minor hit as he heads to the run-oriented Seahawks, though he'll continue to be a target hog given the current state of the Seattle receiving corps.
They call themselves the “Bash Brothers,” a nod to the Mighty Ducks movies from the ‘90s and not the tandem of Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco from the ‘80s.
However they label themselves, tight ends Jimmy Graham and Luke Willson present Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell with an interesting two-headed chess piece. It seems likely that Bevell and the Seahawks will deploy even more two-tight-end formations than in previous seasons after adding Graham via trade this offseason. (The Seahawks also have tight ends Anthony McCoy, Cooper Helfet and RaShaun Allen competing for roster spots.)
“I think a lot of double- and triple-tight-end sets for us are really going to start to come out this year and really give defenses a fit,” Graham said. “We’re going to be able to run the ball so effectively with all those tight ends in the game. But also in the pass, play-action is going to be pretty amazing.”
In June, Bevell said the Seahawks’ two-tight-end formation is one of his favorites because of the difficult choices it forces defenses to make.
If the Seahawks go with more two-tight-end formations, they will need Graham to block for running back Marshawn Lynch. Graham’s blocking has long been one of the few concerns about him, the story said. Graham added he's been banged up the last two years and didn't block like he's capable of. The story also added that Graham knows he won’t see as many passes in Seattle as he did in New Orleans, which means he will have to capitalize on the important ones and he's prepared to do that. Graham still ranks as our number-two TE and it sounds like he's going to be a big part of the offense even if his targets drop. Multiple TE sets could also hurt the fantasy value of Seattle WRs.
Saints beat writer Mike Triplett on TE Josh Hill:
As I've written before, the best statistical season by a Saints tight end other than Jimmy Graham in Sean Payton's offense was Jeremy Shockey's 2009 season (48 catches, 569 yards, three touchdowns). That's a realistic target for Hill, with maybe a few more TDs thrown in. I'll be curious to see how much of a red zone target Hill is -- and if defenses pay more attention to him than they did last year, when most of his TDs came as the result of being the open man.
We have Hill projected for 52-627-5.1, so we're slightly more optimistic than Triplett about Hill's production this season. The Saints need playmakers in the passing game, and Hill brings more to the table than Watson. But he needs to get (and stay) on the field to make a significant impact.
After Brandin Cooks and Marques Colston is where it really gets interesting for the Saints WRs. The Saints will have two relative newcomers in their top-four rotation after trading away TE Jimmy Graham and receiver Kenny Stills and opting not to re-sign Robert Meachem.
Fourth-year pro Nick Toon will get the first crack at the No. 3 job since he’s been waiting in line the longest. Toon helped his case with a solid finish to last season when he finally got an extended opportunity -- 17 catches for 215 yards and a touchdown over the final six games.
Brandon Coleman’s massive size (6-foot-6, 225) makes him the most intriguing roster contender since he could develop into a red-zone monster. Coleman seemed to be playing faster and more at ease this summer after struggling last summer -- a good sign that he’s on the rise.
Seantavius Jones shouldn’t get lost in Coleman’s shadow. The 6-3, 200-pounder has flashed a great combination of size and athleticism. And he was actually promoted to the active roster ahead of Coleman late last season when the Saints needed injury reinforcements.
The author thinks both Jones and Coleman make the roster while the team parts ways with Josh Morgan and Joe Morgan. The article said Toon (6-4, 218) can help his case even more if he proves to be a strong blocker (a valued skill that used to be one of Meachem’s specialties). Also mentioned was the possibility Colston becomes a red zone threat, taking over for the departed Graham. However, we think C.J. Spiller also takes on a huge role in the passing game from the running back position.
There are plenty of ways to break down just how bad the Jaguars' offense has been the past several seasons, but the best way to illustrate the ineptness is by looking at how the unit has performed in the red zone.
According to ESPN Stats & Information, the Jaguars scored an NFL-low 13 touchdowns and completed an NFL-worst 39.1 percent of passes on an NFL-low 85 snaps in 32 red zone possessions in 2014. They were still last in TDs and completion percentage if you include the 2013 season, too.
The blame is spread between the quarterbacks, offensive line, backs and receivers, and play calling. Not much the Jaguars have tried the past two seasons has worked consistently and as a result the team has averaged just 15.5 points per game the past two seasons.
Things could be significantly better in 2015, though, thanks to the addition of tight end Julius Thomas. The 6-foot-5, 250-pounder was not only one of the league's better tight ends the past two seasons – catching 108 passes, including 24 for touchdowns – he was one of the NFL's most effective players in the red zone.
Thomas had 13 catches in the red zone in 2014, including nine for touchdowns. Only Green Bay receiver Randall Cobb had more (10) and Thomas had the same number as New England's Rob Gronkowski, Miami's Mike Wallace, New Orleans' Jimmy Graham, and San Diego's Antonio Gates, the story said. Obviously potential owners of Thomas need to keep in mind the situation is now a little bit different. The Jags don't have the same weapons Denver had a year ago that also needed to be accounted for in the red zone, and don't forget about Peyton Manning as the QB. Still, Thomas will be looked at as a big red zone option, and if the Jag WRs can step up as threats, that should also help Thomas' chances to continue his success. Thomas is ranked eighth among our TEs and is available in the middle of drafts.
Nick Toon, who spent his first three years at the X receiver spot, has moved to the Z in the Saints’ base offense. Toon will line up off the ball more often, and he’ll be lining up on the strong side of the formation, as opposed to the weak side. Toon, at 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds, has become one of New Orleans’ better run blockers at receiver, an ability that can come in handy as an extra blocker outside the tight end.
For Toon, the key is putting it all together. He should have plenty of chances.
“We saw at times last year in practice, even though he’s not receiving reps in the games, certainly we’ve seen his progression, he understands the system well and he’s working hard,” Payton said. “I think the key is just getting snaps, but I think we’ll see his snaps go way up.”
Toon figures to serve as the WR3 behind Brandin Cooks and Marques Colston. The role hasn't traditionally been a big fantasy producer, but Jimmy Graham is gone so the team figures to get less production out of the tight end position. If anything happens to Cooks or Colston, fantasy owners should have Toon on speed dial.
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