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Jimmy Graham’s rehab takes him back to the basketball court

Seahawks tight end Jimmy Graham dressed up for pregame workouts for the second week in a row. (AP)
LISTEN: Why basketball is part of Jimmy Graham's rehab

Most NFL teams would cringe at the thought of one of their players on a basketball court, where cutting and jumping present plenty of injury risk. Some even write stipulations into contracts that explicitly disallow it.

The Seahawks, though, have actually encouraged tight end Jimmy Graham to play basketball during these final stages of his rehab from a torn patellar tendon, something Brock Huard discussed on the television broadcast of Seattle’s preseason game against Dallas.

Graham was an all-state basketball player in high school and played power forward for four seasons in college at Miami, where he averaged 4.0 points and 5.9 rebounds per game as a senior while blocking 36 shots.

Getting him back on a basketball court is one way the Seahawks felt he could clear a mental hurdle as he comes back from his knee injury, which cut short his first season with Seattle and has entailed an especially difficult rehab. He’s beginning to take part in team drills, which present a significantly different setting from the controlled workouts like sprinting and running routes vs. air that he has been largely limited to. Coach Pete Carroll said playing basketball has the same effect.

From the sounds of it, Carroll and Graham went one-on-one.

“The idea was to give him a chance to have to make moves that are not controlled …” Carroll said. “I thought if he were to just feel that, it would show him that he’s ready to go to the next level. And we just had some fun doing it. I had him 3-2, as a matter of fact – he doesn’t want me to tell you that – then I stopped playing.”

Carroll has raised the possibility that Graham may not be ready to play by Week 1, but there are some encouraging signs. Carroll said his participation in team drills will soon increase, and Graham took part in pregame warmups in full pads as well as an additional workout Thursday even though he wasn’t playing.

“He looked great in pregame, didn’t he?” Carroll said. “He was flying. He was really fired up. … He was lit up about it afterwards. He really felt good. That was a big step for him. Excited for him.”