Seahawks coach Pete Carroll seems almost giddy at the thought of Thomas Rawls and Jimmy Graham having a healthy off-season.
If Pete Carroll’s answers to questions about Richard Sherman and Marshawn Lynch drew most of the attention from his media session at the NFL league meetings earlier this week, the giddiness of his comments about two other players — Jimmy Graham and Thomas Rawls — was also hard to ignore.
As Carroll noted, this time a year ago, Graham and Rawls were each limited in their off-season work, resigned to rehabbing from significant injuries that had knocked them out the year before.
But this off-season, each is healthy and Carroll seemed like he could hardly contain his excitement at that thought. As he also could have noted but didn’t, it’s also the first full off-season for each healthy and as a Seahawk. Two years ago, Rawls didn’t join the team until signing as an undrafted free agent following the draft while Graham was traded to the Seahawks in March.
But this year, each headed into the off-season with a clear understanding of what the team expects and a full off-season to try to get that done.
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Carroll, asked about Rawls, noted the two broken legs he suffered in 2015 and then early 2016 (the broken ankle in 2015 and a fibula in the second game of 2016.
“Two broken legs since the last time he played (a full season),” Carroll said “Broke a leg, got it repaired, came back, broke a leg again (he slammed the table with his hand as he mentioned each leg). Different break. He’s going to be extraordinarily different, just the way that he’s stepped into the offseason. He’s fit and ready to go. Last offseason, he was in a boot, on crutches and limping.”
Throw in a healthy Rawls with newly-acquired Eddie Lacy and C.J. Prosise in his second year — and also healthy after a variety of injuries as a rookie — and Seattle’s backfield looks much more stable than a year ago this time.
“I think it’s one of the future,” Carroll said when asked to assess the running back position. “I think for all those guys. I think everybody, Eddie’s, gotta get back. Thomas is going to have a tremendous offseason, which he didn’t have last year – he had a rehab offseason. I know he’s really excited about the opportunity to get right, fit and all of that. C.J., he was in the office I heard yesterday and the guys think he looks great. He’s doing good all-around. Preparation for camp – he’s stronger than he’s ever been. He had a tremendous impact when he played last year. So I think everything is to the future for those guys. Alex (Collins) was the steadiest of the guys last year. He stayed healthy and grew a lot and improved over the course of the season. I think it’s a very good group for us. I’m really excited about the versatility of it.”
Graham, meanwhile, suffered a patella tendon injury in the 11th game of the 2015 season that some speculated could alter the rest of his career.
Instead, after sitting out preseason games and playing sparingly in week one, Graham went on to earn a Pro Bowl bid in setting Seattle tight end single-season records for a tight end for receptions (65) and yards (923).
“So communicating to Jimmy lately, it’s a similar position that Jimmy’s in (to Rawls),” Carroll said. “Jimmy’s in no pain. He feels the best he’s felt in years. He’s in great shape. He’s already able to do everything he can think of. He’s working with Russell (Wilson) in the offseason (you can see some of that in the Tweet below). He’s throwing and meeting with him and working on stuff, which he couldn’t do any of that last year. He couldn’t run until we were into camp. So those kinds of guys, you can expect them to take a big step forward and it’s such a good thing for these kids because they get to go after the game as opposed to going in, trying to get fixed and get healthy and get right.”
Graham and Rawls are each entering the final seasons of their current deals — Graham can be an unrestricted free agent next year and Rawls restricted — making this a pivotal year for each to determine their long-term future in Seattle.
For now, Carroll seems pretty excited about their present and what it could mean for a few months from now.