When the Seahawks begin training camp next week, there is a more-than-fair chance Jimmy Graham and Thomas Rawls will be on the physically-unable-to-perform list.
Don’t just take my word for it. Take the head coach’s.
“Whether it’s the first day of camp or not, or it’s PUP or whatever, we’re going to have to wait and see...,” Pete Carroll said last month at the close of Seattle’s offseason workouts.
Putting Graham or Rawls on the PUP list sounds ominous and suggests setbacks in their recoveries, but that would not necessarily be true. The Seahawks don’t need Rawls or Graham to prove a thing in August, including in any of the four exhibition games. If the team chooses to put one or both on the active/PUP list to begin camp, that would provide roster insurance. In case either or both aren’t fully game-ready by the opener Sept. 11 against Miami, Seahawks would be able to put them on the reserve/PUP list for the first six weeks of the regular season without losing them for the entire season to injured reserve. The team would not have to carry them on the 53-man active roster while unavailable to play.
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Not saying either won’t be ready for the opener -- coach Pete Carroll has said the Seahawks are “kind of counting on” both playing in game one -- but NFL rules state if one isn’t on the PUP list to begin training camp he can’t go on the PUP list to start the regular season.
A player on the active/PUP list to begin camp remains on the 90-man offseason-preseason roster but cannot practice. He can come off it at any time during the preseason when and if he is fully ready to participate. Once such a player comes off the PUP list he is not eligible to go on the PUP list to begin the regular season, so those roster advantages and insurance vanish.
Rawls, the replacement this season for Marshawn Lynch as the Seahawks’ lead running back, is seven months and two weeks removed from a broken ankle and torn ligaments he got to end his breakout rookie season. He vowed at Richard Sherman’s charity softball game in Seattle this month he will not only be full-go for first game but for training camp’s first practice July 30.
Graham was the NFL’s most prolific receiving tight end until last season when his Seahawks debut ended with a ruptured patellar tendon in right his knee Nov. 29. He had surgery the first week of December. That was seven months and three weeks ago.
Many estimates for that type of surgery say it takes at least nine months to be fully running and longer than that to be back to full strength in the leg.
Graham was jogging and catching passes from Russell Wilson May 27 on a Seahawks organized-team-activity day. After that day’s practice Wilson said: He’s going to be back sooner, I think, than people think.”
Yet patellar-tendon ruptures are less common and recoveries from them are often more complicated than what torn anterior cruciate ligament in the knee have become.
Just ask Victor Cruz. The New York Giants wide receiver ruptured his patellar tendon in October 2014. Last August, 10 months after the injury, he tore the calf muscle in his other leg trying to return during training camp. He missed last season, too. He’s trying to come back for 2016, but no one knows if he will.
The Seahawks don’t need Graham -- or Rawls -- to be healthy by July 30. Or even August 30. That’s why starting camp on the PUP list may be the safe, prudent option.