The first name to spring to Pete Carroll’s mind when asked who made the biggest impression on him this offseason was tight end Jimmy Graham.
Graham, set to enter his third season with Seattle after coming over in a trade following the 2015 season, is back to full health after spending all of last year’s offseason recovering from a torn patella tendon in his knee.
“I think Jimmy’s offseason is a big highlight for us,” Carroll said. “Last year at this time we didn’t know what he was going to be like. We were positive, but didn’t know. He had a phenomenal offseason and great work with us.”
Graham set franchise records for Seattle in receptions (65), receiving yards (923) and touchdowns (6) by a tight end last year. While his receiving ability has never been in question, Carroll said Thursday that Graham has become much more adept at blocking during his two years with the Seahawks.
“Gosh, I think it’s been awesome,” he said. “He’s become such a complete football player. Wait until you see him block again this year because he had a very, very good year in advancing his blocking skills and the demands that we placed on him he accepted and took to heart. You can just tell now his confidence level is in the clouds. He knows he can block guys. He knows he can block big guys and (line)backers and DB’s. He has no hesitation. He’s just totally grown in that area so he’s so much more of a complete player than maybe we thought he would become even. So he’s surprised us.”
Graham has only managed eight touchdowns in his two seasons in Seattle. He had at least nine touchdowns in four of his five seasons with the Saints before coming to the Seahawks. Carroll did acknowledge that getting more out of Graham in the red zone is a focus for them this season.
“He and Russell (Wilson) are really tuned in. They spend a lot of time together. They communicate beautifully. I think it will hopefully show up as we get closer to the end zone. Not quite as productive as we thought we could be but that’s a big area of focus for us now, but not because he hasn’t made every effort. He didn’t even have an offseason (last year). He wasn’t thinking about ‘I’m going to go make plays.’ He was just trying to get to camp and get healthy. That’s not what his focus has been on and he’s had a beautiful, beautiful offseason so I think we should expect to get even more out of all of that as we move ahead.”