Jimmy Graham expected to play, Thomas Rawls won’t start in Seahawks’ opener vs Dolphins
Sep 9, 2016, 4:51 PM
RENTON – The answer to what has been one of the biggest questions surrounding the Seahawks was answered Friday when coach Pete Carroll said he expects tight end Jimmy Graham to play in the team’s regular-season opener against Miami.
Carroll also confirmed what had been the apparent plan at running back, saying Christine Michael will start Sunday with Thomas Rawls coming off the bench.
The only major personnel question left unanswered was the Seahawks’ plan at right guard, where Germain Ifedi’s ankle injury forced the Seahawks to adjust their offensive line days before the season opener. Ifedi is listed as questionable, which under the definitions of the NFL’s new injury designations means that he’s “uncertain” to play. But he may as well be ruled out considering he sustained a high-ankle sprain on Wednesday that has kept him from practicing the last two days.
Ifedi could be sidelined for a matter of weeks given the typical timetables for high-ankle sprains.
“We’ll find out,” Carroll said when asked about the severity of Ifedi’s sprain. “We don’t know. We’ve got to give it a couple days.”
Carroll wouldn’t reveal what the Seahawks plan to do in Ifedi’s absence – “We’ll wait and see,” he said – but the likeliest of several options appears to be inserting J’Marcus Webb at right guard. Webb played that position for Oakland last year and has been practicing there since Ifedi went down.
Asked what Webb has shown at guard this week, Carroll said, “That it’s not a tough move for him. He played, I think, 11 games at (right) guard last year … so he’s been there. And if that’s the way it goes, he has background, he’s been at the spot. He’s a very versatile player. He’s played on both sides. This was not a difficult move for him at all. If he’s ready to be the starter – I think he is ready to be the starter if we need him.”
Among Seattle’s other options would be to insert sixth-round pick Joey Hunt at center and move Justin Britt to right guard, though that would mean putting a rookie in an exceedingly tough spot against a star-studded Miami defensive line while also shaking up two positions as opposed to just one. Rookie third-round pick Rees Odhiambo is listed on Seattle’s unofficial depth chart as Ifedi’s backup, though Carroll said Friday that he’s been backing up at left guard.
So Webb, who was signed in the offseason to be Seattle’s right tackle, appears to be the starter at right guard heading into the opener.
There’s much less doubt about Graham’s status. He was a full participant in practice all three days this week, maintaining the momentum he has built in his comeback from a torn patellar tendon that cut short his first season with the Seahawks. It seemed likely based on Carroll’s previous comments as well as the unpredictable nature of recoveries from patellar-tendon injuries that Graham’s status wouldn’t be determined until close to game-time, but Carroll said he expects him to play, even though Graham is listed as questionable.
It will be Graham’s first game of any kind since his injury as he didn’t play in the preseason.
“He had a great last few weeks,” Carroll said. “He’s done everything we could ask of him. He couldn’t be more excited about playing.”
Same for Rawls, who’s coming off a broken ankle that cut his stellar rookie season short. He sat out the first three preseason games and only got a handful of plays in the finale. Carroll has said that this will be the equivalent of his second preseason game, which is why Michael will get the start and presumably the bulk of the carries while Rawls comes off the bench.
“I’m fired up,” Rawls said. “I’m ready to go. I worked so hard. The opener is here and I’m excited.”
• Carroll said cornerback Tharold Simon (knee) is OK after missing a practice this week. Defensive tackle Jarran Reed (toe) is expected to play as well, but Carroll wouldn’t say whether he or Tony McDaniel will start alongside Ahtyba Rubin.
• Tight end Nick Vannett (ankle) is the only player the Seahawks have ruled out. Pro Bowl center Mike Pouncey (hip) and running back Jay Ajayi have been ruled out for Miami.