A little bit has changed for Jimmy Graham now that he plays for the Seahawks.
For starters, consider the tight end's answer when he is asked if he is doing different things in terms of blocking than he did with New Orleans.
"Yeah, I'm blocking here," Graham said with a grin. "Out there the last few I was pretty banged up so midway through the year I kind of stopped blocking, and I just routed people up. Now here, I'm blocking quite a bit and I love it. It's very important for me to be a part of that here because that's about 75 percent of the offense here, and when you have a back like that you want to be in there on those explosive runs, and you want to be a part of that."
Another change for Graham is the way his quarterback can extend plays, meaning receivers and tight ends have to keep running after completing their initial route. As chaotic as plays can look in Seattle's offense when Russell Wilson escapes the pocket, there is some order to what happens next, which plays a big role in Seattle having one of the most explosive offenses in the league despite being near the bottom of the league in pass attempts year after year.
"Russ has obviously a great arm, he can really flip the ball, especially on those outside routes," Graham said. "Truly his ability to extend the play, it's truly never over. A lot of the routes, for me out there in New Orleans, once I planted, if I wasn't getting the ball then it was over. Over here, sometimes the play just begins."
But even if Graham is being asked to do a few things differently than he did in New Orleans, where he was one of the league's most prolific pass-catchers, he has no complaints about having to take on a few new challenges.
"To be here, to be a part of something special like this, and to work on this connection with Russ, and to build this bond with my tight ends, it's been truly amazing so far," Graham said.
Developing the chemistry necessary to execute all of those plays will take some time, but already Graham has shown a knack for finding holes in the defense when Wilson extends the play. According to both Wilson and Graham, their on-field chemistry is strengthened by the bond they have formed off of the field. Not long after the Seahawks traded Max Unger and a first-round pick for Graham and a fourth-rounder, Wilson invited Graham to Hawaii for the offseason workouts he was organizing with teammates. Their relationship only grew stronger when Wilson missed organized team activities in May to attend the funeral of Tamara Meyerson, who was Graham's manager and a mother-figure in his life.
"That was a big deal," Graham said. "Not only for me, but really for my family and friends. To see just how real it is here, just how immediately everyone just accepted me as a brother and really ran to help when they didn't have to."
That connection, both on and off the field, between Graham and Wilson could be the biggest difference maker in 2015 for an offense that was already very dangerous a year ago. If Wilson and Graham are on the same page, and by all accounts they are, that's a very big (literally) weapon to add to an offense that already has a number of playmakers.
"I think with Russ it's bigger than the game, it's bigger than football, and that's how you know something special is going to happen, when it extends off the field," Graham said. "So far so good, I mean it's been amazing. Him learning me, and what some of my hints are when I'm going to break, and me understanding him, where he's going to place the ball, and what he likes in the routes. It's been great so far, and we haven't even run the red zone yet."
Ah, yes, the red zone; the area where Graham excels most, and one of the biggest reasons the Seahawks were so eager to add him. Graham has averaged 11.5 touchdowns per season over the last four years, and in 2013 he caught 11 touchdowns in the red zone alone. Those numbers might be tough to match in an offense that attempts far fewer passes than New Orleans, but Graham will still be a big part of Seattle's offense, and not at all surprisingly, he has been a standout in camp so far, even if the Seahawks haven't yet focused on the red zone.
"What an exciting addition for a club and everybody can feel it," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. "We've got some things we do that he fits right in with, there are a couple little tweaks we do too of things that we've found that they've done with him in the past. It's just going to be building the connection, but it's going to go quickly. He and Russell have been together already, they've already got a feel for one another, we're thrilled about it."
The Seahawks acquired Pro Bowl/All-Pro tight end Jimmy Graham in a trade with the New Orleans Saints.