Tyler Lockett's preseason success has the team preparing an even bigger role for him in the offense than might have been expected.
As the Seahawks enter the regular season opener against the St. Louis Rams, one of the more intriguing aspects is how rookie Tyler Lockett performs in his role as a receiver.
I think there’s little question he will make a sizeable impact as both a kickoff and punt returner, pulling off long returns for touchdowns of each during the preseason.
That preseason success, though, was no real surprise as the team made a heavy investment to get Lockett (trading three picks to Washington to move up 26 spots to take him in the third round of the draft) on the assumption he would make an immediate impact as a returner.
What was a little more eye-opening is what Lockett did as a receiver — even if only because that often requires a longer adjustment period — with six receptions for a team-high 129 yards, including a 63-yarder in the finale against the Raiders that was the only touchdown scored by the No. 1 offense in 13 possessions.
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Seattle offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said this week that the success Lockett had as a receiver has increased the role he figures to have in the offense to start the season.
“For sure,” Bevell said Wednesday. “I think I said up here before, we thought of him, or at least I thought of him as a kick returner. But he’s come in and done a fantastic job of what we’re asking him to do, he’s picked up a lot of the offense. For a young guy, he’s light years ahead of where I thought he’d be. He’s a legitimate threat for us at wide receiver.”
For now, that likely means a regular role in the receiving rotation, spelling Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse at times, and other times playing alongside them in three-receiver sets. While both Baldwin and Lockett are maybe best-suited to be inside receivers, each has played on the outside in the preseason, as well, and at times together, with one inside and one outside.
“He really is a fantastic wide receiver as well, dynamic play maker,” Bevell said. “You can see the things he does with the ball in his hands. You’re going to have to factor that in as well. Love what he’s done in the preseason, and we’ll continue to bring him along and have things for him, as well. We just want to make it as difficult as we can for the defense of the opponent.”
There is, of course, the necessary caution that preseason success is one thing and replicating that in the regular season can be another.
But Seattle’s veteran players sound confident Lockett will pick up where he left off.
Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman, asked about Lockett Wednesday, couldn’t help but get in a playful dig at his 5-10 height in the process of predicting big things ahead.
“Very quick, very fast, vertically challenged,” Sherman said. “Elusive, he’s dynamic, he’s not indecisive, he’s not scared. He’s a little guy but he’ll throw it up in there. You can’t simulate his speed, you can’t simulate his change of direction. Punt return is such a throw up play. Anything can happen, any guy can make a tackle, break a tackle, and things can get chaotic. That’s almost a perfect play for him, because he’s so fast and so tough to deal with, he sets up blocks so well, so I mean he’s going to be an asset for us if they give him a chance.”