Graham admitted at last weekend's Pro Bowl that he "barely practiced" during the 2016 season, Liz Mathews of USA Today reports. After suffering a torn patellar tendon in Week 12 of his first campaign in Seattle, Graham faced an uphill battle to regain even a semblance of his former standing among the top tight ends in the NFL. Indeed, he didn't make an appearance last preseason and earned just 17 of 82 offensive snaps in the 2016 season opener. Ramping up his workload as the weeks ticked by, he notched the first of three 100-yard efforts in Week 3 and scattered six end-zone visits throughout a complete 16-game slate. The preceding was possible due to Graham's regular appearances on the injury report, typically due to non-injury, suggesting that rest was the recipe for his success. There's no telling if this is his high-water mark as a Seahawk, but he will turn 31 in November, meaning he could be hard-pressed to replicate a 65/923/6 line due to a combination of his age and medical history.
Graham brought in all three of his targets for 22 yards and a touchdown in Saturday's 36-20 divisional-round loss to the Falcons. Graham capped off an impressive 12-play, 89-yard drive on the game's opening possession with a seven-yard scoring reception, but he was essentially a non-factor the rest of the way. That was a theme that seemed far too common this season for a player the caliber of Graham, who tallied between just one and three catches in seven games during the regular season. The seventh-year pro may have been indirectly affected by Russell Wilson's health concerns during the campaign, which lead to several sub-par outings for the Seattle offense overall. Graham finished the 2016 season, his second in Seattle with 65 receptions (95 targets) for 923 yards and six touchdowns over 16 games.
Graham hauled in three of four targets for 37 yards in Saturday's 26-6 wild-card victory over the Lions. The play-making tight end was relatively quiet on the night compared to fellow pass-catchers Doug Baldwin and Paul Richardson, who both turned in memorable performances. However, Graham's final reception of the night stood out, as his 10-yard catch on third down with 9:33 remaining in the game brought the ball to the Lions' four-yard line, setting up a Thomas Rawls touchdown run a play later. Despite the modest output Saturday, Graham could well play a key role in next Saturday's divisional round playoff against a Falcons squad that surrendered 11.5 yards per reception to the tight end position this season.
Graham caught four of seven targets for 64 yards in Sunday's win over the 49ers. Graham did the bulk of his damage late in the first half on a 42-yard deep ball in which he returned to his basketball roots and boxed out the San Francisco defenders. Graham has run anywhere from lukewarm to cold down the stretch, having failed to reach 70 yard receiving in a game since Week 9. He gets a favorable match up in the playoff opener against a Detroit team that has surrendered nine touchdowns to tight ends this season, fifth worst in the league.
Graham caught only two passes for 43 yards Saturday in a loss to the Cardinals, but he scored his sixth touchdown of the season. Graham has been a victim of circumstance recently, totaling four receptions on nine targets in the last three games. The Seahawks often align him tight to chip block before he starts his route and coach Pete Carroll said Monday the Cardinals were "rerouting him more at the line of scrimmage than we would like." That, however, doesn't really explain Graham's lack of use in the red zone where he's had two targets the last three games. With Tyler Lockett out for the season, Graham could see more targets in Week 17 and the playoffs, but that didn't help him Saturday.
|* indicates player did not play that week|
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