The team has three weeks to place him on the 53-man roster, which could happen before Sunday’s game against Dallas. Or the Seahawks could wait until after the bye week and then a home game against Arizona on Nov. 15.

Share story

RENTON — In the instant he grabbed for his left knee, Seahawks receiver Paul Richardson knew.

He’d been down the same road before, having torn the anterior-cruciate ligament in his left knee during his college days at Colorado.

So when he again felt the same popping sensation as he slowed to jump for a deep pass from Russell Wilson in the third quarter of a divisional playoff game against Carolina on Jan.11, he didn’t need to be told what had happened.

“I sat there and just yelled,’’ he recalled Monday. “I sat there on the ground just yelling, just upset at myself for getting hurt again.’’

What he also knew, though, is what would happen next — surgery and nine months of rehab.

And he knew he could get through it, having recovered from the initial ACL tear suffered at Colorado to become the Seahawks’ first pick of the 2014 draft, No. 45 overall in the second round. It was the third-highest pick the team has used on a receiver.

So there he was Monday, back on the field with the Seahawks, having returned to practice after having been on  the Physically Unable to Perform list. The team has three weeks to place him on the 53-man roster, which could happen before Sunday’s game against Dallas. Or the Seahawks could wait until after the bye week and then a home game against Arizona on Nov. 15.

Richardson said he’s ready as soon as called.

“I feel good,’’ he said after his first full practice with the team Monday. ”Blessed to say I feel good.’’

Having been through the process before, he said, made it “easier mentally.’’

He had surgery in Pensacola, Fla., four days before the Super Bowl. Stuck initially in a wheelchair for a few days as he recovered, he hoped to attend the game. But with his leg immobilized that proved unrealistic.

Within a few days of the playing of the game, though, he was back on the road to recovery.

“I had to learn how to walk again,’’ he said. “But it was just motivation, watching my teammates without me, that motivated me. I watched a lot of football. I was just itching to get on the grass. But I said as soon as I started walking I was going to start running, so as soon as I dropped the crutches I put on the cleats.’’

Richardson said there was no “Why me?’’ moment, saying “I believe everything happens for a reason’’ and that his main frustration was “not being able to help my teammates.’’

The injury came just as Richardson and the team felt he was beginning hit his stride He caught five passes in each of Seattle’s last two regular-season games for a combined 112 yards, and then caught a 21-yarder from Wilson early in the third quarter against Carolina.

On the next play, he ran deep down the left side with Carolina’s Bene Benwikere in man coverage. As Richardson neared the goal line he had to slow down a bit to adjust to the ball.

“The ball’s in the air, and I was so comfortable,’’ he said. “And as I gathered myself it popped.’’

Richardson said he demanded to know from trainers if they thought he’d torn his ACL again before he left the field, but he also said, “I knew. I didn’t want to get off the field just thinking ‘I wonder if it’s my ACL?’ But I knew when it popped.’’

Richardson said the knee was repaired by taking a patellar tendon from his right knee.The first time, doctors used a patellar tendon from his left knee. He said the hope is that will make it stronger and minimize the odds of a similar injury happening again.

He said he’s been ready to return for about a month but by NFL rules, the earliest he could have returned was last week and the team decided to wait until Monday due to a short week of practice last week.

“He looked lightning fast,’’ coach Pete Carroll said of how Richardson practiced Monday. “He’s got the fresh legs, and he’s already really fast.’’

Asked if Richardson could play against Dallas, Carroll said, “I don’t think it’s unrealistic.’’

The team doesn’t have to make a decision and subsequent roster move until Saturday for Richardson to play Sunday.

Richardson’s return would further add to the competition at the receiver spot — the team has six already.

Carroll, though, sounded excited Monday about what Richardson may bring noting the impact he was beginning to make (he caught 13 of his 29 passes for the season in the last three games).

“Paul was really starting to come on late in the year,” Carroll said. “He was catching a lot of passes and kind of intricate route things that we were doing with him. Advanced stuff, timing things that we were really counting on him, and he was getting in and out of his breaks beautifully. So we really started to go to him late in the season. So it was a great sign and it was unfortunate that he got banged up. I don’t know where we’re going to pick up from there. I don’t know that. We’re just going to wait and see. This is really the first hour we’ve had on the field all year. But we’re hopeful he’ll be a real big factor for us when we can get him back in there, and we’ll just fit him in.”

Richardson’s just glad to be part of the mix again. He said he has been timed since the surgery and is faster now than before the injury.

Asked how fast, he smiled and said, “We’ll see when I make the 53-man roster. I definitely know.’’