With Graham out, Cooper Helfet hopes to catch on with improved blocking

Dec 2, 2015, 10:05 AM | Updated: 10:34 am
Seahawks tight end Cooper Helfet will undergo surgery for a broken bone in his foot. (AP)...
Seahawks tight end Cooper Helfet will undergo surgery for a broken bone in his foot. (AP)

Cooper Helfet is four inches shorter and has about 420 fewer catches than his teammate Jimmy Graham. But the fourth-year tight end won’t be asked to carry the entire load with the three-time Pro Bowler out of the lineup.

“Really, really big shoes to fill,” Helfet said on 710 ESPN Seattle’s “Danny, Dave and Moore.” “Figuratively and literally, obviously.”

With Graham sidelined for the rest of the season, the former undrafted free agent’s role is expected to increase. The 26 year old will likely be the primary back-up to Luke Willson, and has shown improvement as a blocker after primarily being a receiving threat at Duke.

“Being a smaller tight end, you’ve got to really use technique and leverage, beat the guy to the punch, have the right steps and footwork, hat placement and all of that stuff to really get the job done,” said Helfet, who is listed as 6-foot-3, 239 pounds. “It just really comes with reps, so luckily I’ve really just taken what they’ve given me and tried to take it as far as I could and I’ve seen a lot of improvement in that field for sure.”

The fourth-year tight end caught 12 passes for 185 yards and two touchdowns in his first increased role last season. With Graham in the fold, he’s made just one catch for seven yards in 2015.

Helfet said he’s looking at Graham’s injury from Seattle’s typical “next man up” perspective.

“That’s kind of the mentality of our team: Fill in when you need to when your name is called and make the plays you know you’re capable of making,” he said. “So I’m ready to rock, and have been all season, and yeah, hopefully I get the chance now.”

Other highlights from the conversation:

&#8226 Helfet is popular among the female 12s, thanks to his side-job as a model, but said that job has been placed on hold.

“I’ve taken a little break on the modeling venue,” he said. “There’s not too many gigs up here in Seattle.”
He said teammates sometimes give him a hard time about his part-time posing, with someone even creating a “Zoolander” meme with his face on it.

“They try and give me a hard time and then I show them the paychecks and they’re like, ‘OK, we see it, we see what’s going on here,'” he said.

&#8226 Helfet had an interesting route to the NFL, earning a college scholarship to John Hopkins for lacrosse before eventually switching to community college and landing on the Duke football team.

“(Lacrosse) just wasn’t my passion,” he said. “I figured if I was going to be working that hard I might as well take it at football, my passion.”

&#8226 Helfet caught passes at the end of his senior season through his NFL Pro Day from Peyton Manning, who at the time was rehabbing from his major neck surgeries and looking for a new team.

“I got to catch balls from him every day and he’d give me pointers,” he said. “It was honestly a great little transition to come to the pro level because he just kind of gave me a bunch of tips and pointers, and obviously I got to catch from one of the greatest of all-time for a couple months there.”

Seattle Seahawks

Joe Fann

Fann: Seahawks’ meeting vs injury-plagued Rams needs to be ‘get-right’ game

The Seahawks face a Rams team missing most of their stars due to injury, and that presents a perfect opportunity for Seattle, Joe Fann writes.
17 hours ago
Seahawks Quandre Diggs...
Brent Stecker

Bump’s Breakdown: 3 things Seahawks must do to get on track

The Seahawks' four-game win streak seems like a distant memory after two straight disappointing losses. How can they rebound? Michael Bumpus breaks it down.
17 hours ago
Seahawks Johnathan Abram...
The Associated Press

Seahawks land 2019 1st-rounder Johnathan Abram for safety depth

The Seattle Seahawks claimed safety Johnathan Abram off waivers on Wednesday, adding depth to a position that’s been thinned by injuries.
2 days ago
Seahawks Raiders...
Brent Stecker

Seahawks Football 101: A close look at run defense’s returning issues

The Seahawks were ripped on the ground again Sunday in their overtime loss to the Raiders. What are the problems? Dave Wyman breaks it down.
2 days ago
Seahawks Rams Aaron Donald...
The Associated Press

Rams to play Seahawks without Aaron Donald; QB Stafford also likely out

Seven-time All-Pro DT Aaron Donald will miss a game because of injury for the first time in his NFL career when his Rams host the Seahawks on Sunday.
2 days ago
Seahawks Tariq Woolen...
Brent Stecker

NFL Draft insider on why ’22 Seahawks class hit, possible ’23 targets

Seattle Sports' Brock and Salk caught up with ESPN NFL Draft analyst and insider Matt Miller to get his read on the Seahawks' rookies and what they could do in the 2023 draft.
2 days ago
With Graham out, Cooper Helfet hopes to catch on with improved blocking