RENTON Your summer love is back.
Preseason rushing leader Troymaine Pope signed with the Seahawks to join their practice squad Friday, after the New York Jets had cut him on Tuesday.
The Jets used him in just one game and gave him just one carry, two weeks ago in their win over Baltimore. He was inactive for New York’s other seven games this season, including Oct. 2 against the Seahawks in the New Jersey Meadowlands.
“I just feel like it was an unfortunate situation going into,” Pope said of the Jets. “I just feel like they didn’t really have a plan for me, or any opportunity to play me...It was just, ‘Let’s get this guy.’ That’s what it felt like.
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“Then Seattle called. It was between Seattle and Green Bay, and I was like ‘I know where I’m going’ because I am more familiar with Seattle -- the atmosphere, the players, the playbook.
“This is where I wanted to be, where I am comfortable at, where I’ve got brothers in the backfield that I can trust.”
Pope was as big a summer sensation around Seattle as Seafair. He averaged 6.8 yards per touch in the preseason. He scored two touchdowns. He won his first NFL game, the preseason opener at Kansas City, with a two-point conversion run with no time left. The Seahawks ran off the sidelines and mobbed him like the new guy had just won a playoff game.
The following exhibition he romped for 86 yards against Minnesota, and for 52 yards in the preseason finale at Oakland Sept. 1.
But on Sept. 3, he was gone. Seattle put Pope on waivers at the end of the preseason hoping he’d clear those so the team could sneak him onto its practice squad to begin the regular season. But the Jets claimed the undrafted rookie from Jacksonville State off waivers and put him on their active roster to begin the season instead.
"When they released me I didn’t know what to think," Pope said of the Seahawks.
"I really just wanted to get the (active-roster) money so I can help take care of my daughter."
The 22-year-old Pope has a 3-year-old, Cassidy. He earned $31,765 per week for two months with the Jets even though he played in just that one game. Practice-squad players in the NFL make a minimum of $6,900 per regular-season week.
“I was torn between making money (signing with the Jets) and being here,” he said. “This is where I wanted to be.”
Seahawks fans remained gaga for Pope. His name shows up on message boards and my Twitter feed more than many who have been on Seattle’s active roster all season.
Oh, yes, he noticed. He said he kept getting messages of love. Still gets them, in fact.
“I got a lot of stuff: ‘Why are you not here?’... It was crazy, man,” he said, chucking over Seattle’s fan love. “But I just appreciate it, though.
“I get a lot of it on my Instagram and stuff, and they are going right now. They are happy to see me back, and I am happy to be back.
“It’s a good thing.”
It could become even better. The Seahawks’ running game is 28th in the NFL. Starter Thomas Rawls has been out since Sept. 18 with a cracked fibula though may try to return for the Nov. 13 game at New England. Christine Michael is showing wear as the fill-in lead back. Coach Pete Carroll said this week rookie C.J. Prosise is going to get more chances; the Seahawks drafted the former Notre Dame wide receiver in the third round to be their third-down, receiving back.
And now another potential option: everyone’s darling from August. Pope said Seahawks coaches want him to focus on intricately learning the entire running-back game, specifically pass blocking. If he can show progress there, he could find a way onto the active roster over the latter half of the regular season.
“Now that I’ve been around a few places I’ve learned, the more you know mentally the better you will be,” he said, words he wasn’t saying in August.
The need is certainly there in the Seahawks’ backfield.
“It’s a blessing,” Pope said. “I’m glad to be back.”
The Seahawks released wide receiver George Farmer from the practice squad to make room for Pope’s return.
GRAHAM LIMITED IN PRACTICE
The Seahawks listed tight end Jimmy Graham as limited in Friday’s outdoor practice with a knee injury. It’s a new listing but likely old issue, the remnants of his surgery to repair the torn patellar tendon he got last November.
Nothing so far suggests this was nothing more than some rest and maintenance off that tricky injury. Graham played 49 of the 54 plays last weekend at his former New Orleans Saints. He had three catches on five targets for 34 yards and was conspicuously not involved in Seattle’s final, frantic drive to try to win the game -- including not on the Russell Wilson’s final pass from the 10-yard line that went incomplete out of the back of the end zone to Jermaine Kearse on the other side.
Afterward Graham did not talk to The News Tribune nor the many Louisiana media members who followed him halfway across the Superdome to the Seahawks’ team bus to do so.
Strong safety Kam Chancellor again missed practice for a pulled groin he’s had for a month now. It seems he will miss his fourth consecutive game on Monday.
Coach Pete Carroll has called the injury “substantial” and on Thursday said the captain of the defense had a setback a couple weeks ago trying to come back then.
“After about 10 days he tried and it just didn’t feel right,” Carroll said. “It showed that he wasn’t making the progress that we could have hoped for. It just set him back a bit in that regard.”
Starting left tackle Bradley Sowell was limited in practice with the sprained medial collateral ligament he got in his right knee Oct. 23 at Arizona. Undrafted rookie George Fant started at left tackle last weekend at New Orleans and may again Monday against Buffalo. Fant impressed Tom Cable enough that the veteran line coach said Thursday the college basketball power forward is ready to compete with Sowell for the job when Sowell is healthy enough to play again.