Against the Rams, Seahawks tight end Jimmy Graham caught six passes. That would put him on pace for 96 receptions for the season, which would be more than all but his career-best of 99 in 2011.
RENTON — One of Jimmy Graham’s stock responses to the inevitable questions about adjusting to a new team is to smile and acknowledge that “everything is different. Even my zip code.’’
OK, so maybe Chris Rock won’t be stealing that line.
But in his first game as a Seahawk on Sunday, Graham showed he still knows where to go on a football field — even if he appeared he needed some time to find his bearings.
@ Green Bay, 5:30 p.m., Ch. 5
Graham had just one reception through the first 35 minutes of Seattle’s 34-31 overtime loss at St. Louis on Sunday, leading to angst on social media from Seahawks fans eager to get their first regular-season look at the team’s highest-profile offseason acquisition.
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In the final 30 minutes, though, Graham showed what all the fuss had been about. The tight end caught five passes and a touchdown and finished with statistics not that different from his years in New Orleans — six receptions on eight targets for 51 yards and a touchdown.
That would put him on pace for 96 receptions for the season, which would be more than all but his career-best of 99 in 2011, his second year in the NFL.
True, Graham gained just 8.5 yards per catch, down from his career average of 12.5. But that was in keeping with a Seattle offensive plan that revolved around a short, quick-strike passing game to offset St. Louis’ pass rush. The Seahawks’ passing game averaged just 7.8 yards.
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said there was no real reason that Graham was more involved in the second half than the first.
“The routes that were called, the ball could’ve gone there,’’ Carroll said. “Jimmy’s such a good addition to our team, he’s always part of the scheme. We’re not putting him to rest for a while and then using him, that kind of stuff. We’re not thinking that at all. It just worked out for us better in the second half and he was a bigger factor for us. We wish we could’ve done that earlier.’’
|Tight end Jimmy Graham turned it on in the second half Sunday:|
Graham was targeted just once in the first half, on the second play of the game — a 7-yard reception.
He wasn’t targeted again until the last snap of Seattle’s first drive of the third quarter. After that, Graham was targeted seven times, making five catches.
The receptions were the most for a Seahawks tight end since John Carlson had seven in a loss at Tampa Bay on Dec. 20, 2009.
Graham on Thursday mostly shrugged at questions about why he was able to get the ball more in the second half.
“Stuff like that doesn’t matter to me,’’ Graham said. “Just out there doing my job.’’
As the Seahawks had promised, Graham was used both as a tight end and essentially as a receiver.
According to Pro Football Focus, Graham was on the field for 76 of Seattle’s offensive snaps. He lined up as a tight end on 51 of those snaps. He lined up as a slot receiver on 16 and split out nine times.
His touchdown came when he was split left and defended by St. Louis linebacker Alec Ogletree in man-to-man coverage.
Graham was open on that play, but Seattle offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said one key to getting Graham more involved is understanding how adept he is coming down with catches in traffic.
“Sometimes you just have to throw him the ball,’’ Bevell said.
Graham caught one pass when heavily covered in the fourth quarter on the drive that led to his touchdown, the kind of play the Seahawks think will occur more often as Graham and Wilson get even more comfortable.
“I think that’s really on the practice field and some of the confidence that you can gain there, when guys are draped all over him,’’ Bevell said. “‘Can I throw this in here? Where can I locate it?’ …
“The more he (Wilson) does it, the more confidence he’ll have with that.”