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How Seahawks’ schedule, PUP rules affect Paul Richardson’s return

Seahawks receiver Paul Richardson tore his ACL in the divisional round of the playoffs last season. (AP)

RENTON – Seahawks wide receiver Paul Richardson became eligible to practice this week, which coach Pete Carroll previously said he was “100 percent” ready to do following offseason knee surgery.

So why didn’t he?

The answer has everything to do with both Seattle’s schedule and rules pertaining to the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list, which Richardson has been on while rehabbing from reconstructive surgery to repair the ACL he tore in the playoffs last season.

Players who begin the regular season on PUP must miss at least the first six weeks. They cannot play in games, and while they are allowed to work with trainers on the side (running, lifting, etc.), they cannot practice with the team either until the seventh week of the season, which began on Monday. Once a player on PUP begins practicing, the team has 21 days to activate him to their 53-man roster or else he cannot play for the remainder of the season.

The Seahawks and any other team in their situation would want to see how Richardson looks in practice for at least one and maybe two weeks before activating him from PUP to their 53-man roster, which would require a corresponding move to make room.

Here’s where Seattle’s schedule comes into play. Richardon became eligible to begin practicing on the same week the Seahawks play on a Thursday night, which significantly scales back their practice schedule. Instead of holding three full-scale practices ahead of a Sunday game, Seattle’s practice schedule on an abbreviated week like this one included two light walk-throughs and only one typical practice.

With only three weeks to activate Richardson from the time he starts practicing, the Seahawks’ thinking is that there was no sense in starting that clock on a week in which they couldn’t really determine his readiness to play.

“We’re going to get him a full week so he can practice,” Carroll said. “This is not a week to really test a guy and check him out because we have to go so light in terms of the tempo of practice.”

Richardson will presumably begin practicing next week. If so, he could in theory play that Sunday at Dallas, though he may not do so until two weeks later – following Seattle’s bye week – against Arizona. Brock Huard discussed in a recent edition of Blue 42 how Richardson’s return will help the Seahawks’ offense and also who in their wide receiver corps will be most impacted.