Seahawks’ Jimmy Graham: ‘I can block anybody I want to’
RENTON – Jimmy Graham is eager to show that he’s a willing and able blocker contrary to the reputation that followed him to Seattle.
Maybe a little too eager considering his response following a Seahawks practice last week when asked how he would assess that area of his game.
“I mean, I could show you,” Graham said, drawing laughter from a group of media members who were thoroughly amused by the visual of an NFL tight end manhandling a diminutive scribe.
Blocking defensive ends and linebackers is another thing, and Graham’s ability to do so has been considered a question mark since he was acquired in a trade with the Saints in March. Even before that, actually. Recall Seattle’s Michael Bennett calling Graham “soft” following a playoff win over the Saints two seasons ago, part of that opinion being based on how Graham “doesn’t help on the blocking plays.”
For all the success Graham has had catching passes – scoring 51 touchdowns in his five seasons – he’s never been known for his blocking, which to some extent he’ll need to do in Seattle’s run-first offense.
“Listen, man, I’m 270 pounds. I can block anybody I want to,” he said. “It’s all about want-to. We’ll see come this first Sunday.”
Graham’s move from New Orleans’ offense to Seattle’s is something of a 180. The Saints finished 19th, 26th and 29th in the NFL the past three seasons in rushing attempts while the Seahawks were either first or second in the league in that span, meaning there figures to be considerably more run-blocking in store for Graham than he’s been accustomed to. And it’s not only the volume of run plays that will be different in Seattle compared to New Orleans but the variety as well. Graham has a lot to learn.
“For me, that’s really the main focus of this offseason is really to get my mind wrapped around this run game because it is a little different,” he told “The John Clayton Show” last weekend. “I’ve never been in a read-option type of system, but they also do just straight-up run the ball. So for me it’s some different concepts, and their footwork is a lot different than the way I’ve done it. But it’s exciting, something new and I think just the evolution of kinda my game and growing as a player.”
Evaluating Graham’s progress in that area is difficult during this stage of the offseason. Live contact is not permitted and Seattle’s players have been wearing baseball caps and bucket hats as opposed to helmets during the 11-on-11 portion of practice. Blocking is essentially simulated. What seems clear, though, is that Graham is fully accepting of the blocking responsibilities he’ll have in Seattle’s offense.
“We’ve talked about it at length with him,” offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said. “Tight ends coach Pat McPherson has talked to him about it, (offensive line coach Tom Cable has) grabbed him and talked to him about it. It’s something that he’s totally willing to do, and we want to teach him the way we want it done and just our techniques. He’s totally willing to do it. He’s excited about it. I think he kinda has a little chip; he wants to prove it as well. We’re looking forward to that.”