Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said Jimmy Graham is making progress, but he also said he doesn't know yet if Graham will be ready by the start of the season.

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RENTON — Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said tight end Jimmy Graham is “making progress” after offseason knee surgery, but Carroll also raised the possibility that Graham might not be ready to play by the start of the season.

Graham won’t play in Thursday’s preseason game against Minnesota, and while Carroll said Graham’s recovery is going well, it’s the first time he has mentioned the possibility that Graham might not be ready by the season opener.

“Really, we’re shooting for, ‘Where is he at the start of the season?’” Carroll said. “We’ll evaluate then to how much longer it may take, or he may be ready. We don’t know that yet. But he feels good. He’s confident that it’s going along well.”

If Graham isn’t ready for the start of the season, the Seahawks could use the short-term injured reserve (IR) designation and have him return later in the season, which is what the Seahawks did last year with injured linebacker Brock Coyle. Each team can use the short-term IR designation with one player each season.

A player can’t return from short-term IR until after eight weeks; the player can start practicing again after six weeks.

Graham is not eligible to return to the physically unable to perform list (PUP) because he practiced during training camp, meaning he either has to be on the 53-man roster at the start of the season or will have to be assigned the short-term IR designation and return later.

Carroll said the Seahawks are being cautious with Graham as he works his way back. Graham returned to practice last Wednesday. He has run routes and caught passes, but he hasn’t participated in any team portion of practice.

Graham talked last week about how demanding his rehab work has been and admitted to having some “dark days” while recovering.

Carroll said Graham is close to participating in scrimmage situations at practice. He said Graham hasn’t had any issues while running routes and catching passes in his limited work so far.

“We don’t have a timetable for this, that he has to meet any schedule at all,” Carroll said. “We’re just working him back. He’s gaining confidence, and it’s really important that he not have any setbacks so we’re being careful.”

The Seahawks are pretty deep at tight end with Luke Willson, rookie Nick Vannett and Brandon Williams slotted behind Graham.