DeShawn Shead is back.
The Seahawks cleared their special-teams captain and 2016 starting right cornerback off the physically-unable-to-perform list onto the active roster on Saturday. Shead will make his 2017 season debut on Sunday at Dallas, 11 months after he had reconstructive knee surgery.
Shead had a second, clean-up surgery in July that set back his recovery. He returned to practice three weeks ago, and as he expected then the team used all three weeks it had before league rules required it decide whether to activate Shead or put him on injured reserve.
He takes the spot on the 53-man roster vacated earlier this week when Seattle waived reserve linebacker Kache Palacio.
Earlier this month, Shead said: “I thought I was going to be back the first game of the season. But that’s just my mindset. That’s just me being optimistic. But it’s a daily grind.
“All I could do is take it day by day, and grind. And trust the process.”
Shead has been grinding since late January to get back, a couple weeks after he tore knee ligaments making an outside cut defending a pass during Seattle’s loss at Atlanta in the divisional playoffs.
“It’s been a long haul for him,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said earlier this month. “And anytime you ever heard me talk about him, I would tell you he is ridiculously on it, in terms of his rehab and his effort and his preparation and all of that. I’m thrilled for him...”
Last offseason, after his injury and surgery, Shead was on track to be a restricted free agent. But in early March the Seahawks decided not to tender him a restricted offer. That made him an unrestricted free agent. Still in the beginning stages of his recovery and rehabilitation, he talked to Buffalo this spring about a possible contract.
“We definitely talked, talked numbers and everything,” he said of the Bills. “But ultimately I wanted to be here, with my brothers. I’ve been here since my rookie year. I wanted to be here with my brothers.”
The Seahawks signed him to a one-year contract on March 17, a little more than one week after they made him a free agent.
I asked Shead what it meant to him that a few months after knee reconstruction the Seahawks signed him back instead of keeping him away.
“It meant a lot. It meant they trusted me,” he said. “They know what type of person I was. They knew I was going to attack this process 110 percent, and take it as another challenge to come back and be better than I was before.
“It means a lot to me that they know who I am, and they know that I am going to come back better than I left.
“So for them to trust in me and do what they did, I mean, I’m not going to let them down.”