FORT WORTH, Texas—It has been a long road back for Seahawks cornerback DeShawn Shead, but after two surgeries and months of rehabilitation, Shead is ready to return to the playing field more than 11 months after he went down with a serious knee injury in Seattle's playoff loss at Atlanta.
Shead, who opened the season on the physically unable to perform list, returned to practice three weeks ago, and on Saturday, he was added to the 53-man roster, making him eligible to play in Sunday's game at Dallas. No corresponding move was necessary, because the Seahawks waived linebacker Kache Palacio earlier this week and did not fill that roster spot. Palacio has since re-signed to Seattle's practice squad.
When Shead returned to practice earlier this month, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said he was both "thrilled" and "fired up" for the defensive back who in his first five seasons in Seattle went from undrafted free agent in 2012 to spending the better part of two seasons on the practice squad to eventually becoming an every-down player as Seattle's starting right cornerback last season.
"It's been a long haul for him and anytime you ever heard me talk about him, I would tell you, he is ridiculously on it in terms of his rehab and his effort and his preparation and all of that," Carroll said earlier this month.
Shead’s road back included a second arthroscopic surgery this summer to clean up some scar tissue, and as is always the case with ACL injury, a long, tedious rehabilitation process that lasted months and had plenty of highs and lows.
Given Shead's long layoff from football, it's probably not likely that he'll step right back into one of the starting spots held by Byron Maxwell and rookie Shaquill Griffin, but he does immediately provide starter-quality depth to the secondary while also giving Seattle a big upgrade on special teams. Prior to being a starter last season, Shead was one of Seattle's top special teamers, both in terms of playing time and productivity, and last year he was voted a special teams co-captain, along with Jon Ryan, by his teammates
"He's a fantastic special teams player," Carroll said. "He's one of the best that we have ever had."
Asked what Shead's return would bring to the defense, defensive coordinator Kris Richard said, "Veteran, poise, experience, great energy. Awesome communicator and just a fantastic guy to be around. That's who he has been throughout his whole entire career here. It's just that kind of level of optimism is what he brings every single day."
Photos of receiver Tyler Lockett and cornerback DeShawn Shead working their way back from the injuries that ended their 2016 seasons early.