Around the NFL  

 

Tyler Lockett's speed, versatility taking center stage

Print

Several Seattle Seahawks offensive stars are injured, but the team keeps rolling towards January, plowing opponents into a snow bank along the way.

The Seahawks have lost such firepower as Marshawn Lynch, Jimmy Graham and Thomas Rawls. Overcoming those losses has looked easy, thanks to Russell Wilson's near-perfect play over the past four games and Doug Baldwin's touchdown barrage.

One overlooked aspect of the Seahawks' offense is the emergence of rookie Tyler Lockett as a receiving weapon.

The 5-foot-10, 182-pound speedster has 13 receptions, 194 receiving yards and two touchdowns in the past two contests. For the season he's compiled 41 receptions, 540 yards and five receiving scores.

Lockett combines blazing speed, sticky hands and a willingness to take contact. Lockett has caught 29 of his last 32 targets (90.6 percent). Last week, en route to being voted the Pepsi Rookie of the Week, Lockett hauled in an impressive 49-yard TD.

"The speed is what jumps out, and then Russell's trust that he would run by the guy," Carroll said this week, via ESPN.com. "Because Russell has to throw that ball before he's by him, so he gave him a shot at it. He's a good threat down the field, and he's really, really fast."

Lockett joined Gale Sayers (1965) as the only rookies in NFL history with five-plus receiving touchdowns, one-plus kick return TD and one-plus punt return TD.

While his special teams spark has been noticeable from the jump, his contributions on offense the past month have leapt off the screen.

"There's some growth there for sure," said offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell. "We knew when we got him, and we've had this conversation before about the punt-return thing. It was really quickly that we saw what kind of player he could be and the quickness that he has, his skill at being able to catch the ball down the field. With all the punts that he's fielded, he does a great job tracking the ball down the field.

"As you go through practices, and as you go through starting to throw the ball to him, you start to see that he comes through. That excites the quarterbacks a little bit. They start to see that, they start to get more opportunities. The more opportunities, you continue to grow with it. I do think it's been a gradual thing, and the confidence has just continued to kind of skyrocket over that time period."

Lockett's play has skyrocketed as well, providing Wilson with a deep threat who can stress a defense. With a banged-up backfield in flux, the rookie and the passing game should now take center stage in Seattle.

Print