RENTON A change this past offseason to NFL rules means the Seahawks more time to decide whether DeShawn Shead will return any time this season from the physically-unable-to-perform list.
The Seahawks’ starting right cornerback in 2016 has had two knee surgeries since January.
The Seahawks and the league confirmed on Thursday the rule to return from the PUP list is now like it is for injured reserve: any player, up to two per team for injured reserve, can return in that season provided he is on the list for a specified amount of time. For PUP it’s for at least the first six weeks of the regular season. For IR it’s eight consecutive weeks during the regular season.
The old rule specified teams had from the first day following the sixth week of the season until the first day following week 11 to decide whether to bring PUP list players back to practice, and then had three weeks after that to decide if such players were able to play. That first day after week 11 is Tuesday. If after the first day of week 11 those players weren’t back to practice they had been subject to IR and lost for the season.
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This new rule means Shead can still return sometime this season, beyond Tuesday, into December, or perhaps even in January’s playoffs--if Seattle (6-3) gets that far for the sixth consecutive season.
Monday, on his weekly show with Seattle’s KIRO-AM radio, coach Pete Carroll said Shead’s recovery had hit something of a plateau.
The Seahawks’ battered secondary sure could use Shead. Richard Sherman is out for the season after surgery Wednesday for a ruptured Achilles tendon. Kam Chancellor has been seeing doctors this week about a neck injury. Earl Thomas is trying to make it back from a pulled hamstring that has sidelined him the last two games; the team thinks Thomas will play Monday night against Atlanta.
"DeShawn Shead is really close," Carroll said Thursday. "We are trying to get him over the hump. He is really frustrated by it because he has worked so hard and he is in great shape, but he just isn’t quite fully functioning the way we need him to be to cut him loose.
"So he is right at the edge of it. And we will just keep cheerleading for him because he is such an extraordinary kid and we wanted him to have that op to help us."
Top rookie draft choice Malik McDowell is in a similar situation as Shead, though the defensive end who had a serious ATV accident and head injury in July is technically on a different reserve list, the non-football-injury one.
“They are in totally different stages,” Carroll said of McDowell’s and Shead’s recoveries. “Malik is still out of action right now, getting activity. He is doing some activities and stuff like that.”