RENTON As expected, the Seahawks placed recuperating tight end Jimmy Graham and running back Thomas Rawls on the physically-unable-to-perform list at the start of training camp, coach Pete Carroll confirmed following the preseason’s first practice on Saturday.
That doesn’t mean they had a setback or won’t be ready for the opening game in six weeks. It means Seattle is being cautious with both keys to the offense, knowing neither needs to prove anything on July 30 or anytime soon.
“They are in fantastic shape. No one’s worked harder in the offseason than those two guys,” Carroll said, adding he mentioned that to the team in a meeting, to show their work as an example he’d like all players to note. “We want to see where they are under our guidance, full on. They are working twice a day. They are going to show us that they can do all of that before we make the next step.
“The good thing about this level, this PUP thing, is you can bring them off that whenever they are ready to go.”
Yes, the NFL’s PUP-list rules say Graham and Rawls could return to practice at any time this preseason. Carroll and general manager John Schneider say they expect both players to start in Seattle’s opening game Sept. 11 against Miami.
Graham ruptured the patellar tendon in his knee during a win over Pittsburgh last November, a premature end to his Seattle debut season of 2015 following his trade from New Orleans. Rawls, the replacement for retired Marshawn Lynch as Seattle’s lead running back, is seven months and three weeks removed from breaking his ankle and tearing ligaments in it.
While on the PUP list they can’t practice or do any on-field work with any coach. That is why they spent the first part of Saturday’s first practice stretching on their own on the side, along with injured defensive tackle Sealver Siliga. Siliga went on the non-football-injury list with a calf injury Carroll said he got before he reported for camp on Friday.
As they watched practice, Christine Michael -- wearing a new, “Michael Sr.” name tag on the back of his jersey -- was the No. 1 running back. He got roars from the thousands of fans watching the start of camp with a bolting run on the first snap of team scrimmaging.
Brandon Williams, a 28-year-old free agent signed from Carolina this offseason, alternated with rookie third-round draft choice Nick Vannett at tight end in place of Graham. Luke Willson caught one of Russell Wilson’s first throws of the team scrimmage, about 20 yards down field on a seam route.
Rawls became Lynch’s heir last season when he became the first undrafted rookie in NFL history to rush for at least 160 yards in two games. The Seahawks drafted Notre Dame’s C.J. Prosise to be their new third-down back to catch passes, plus Alex Collins from Arkansas and Zac Brooks from Clemson.
The coach said there is no estimate for when Graham or Rawls may begin practicing.
“We are kind of looking at them in segments. We are going to look at these next four days, then break and see where we are after that,” Carroll said. “If they are really looking good, then maybe we go ahead and make the move (to take them off the PUP list so they can practice). We are not going to be impatient at all with this, but there will be a time when we will want them to develop, because they can’t do stuff with the coaches, only with the trainers.
“They will be a time -- but there’s plenty of time. The running-back spot, he can fit in. It’s a little bit more complicated for a tight end, with all the stuff that we ask them to do. So we’ve got that in mind for Jimmy, to make sure that we can bring him along so he can be ready.”