One thing coach Pete Carroll values most is taking care of the ball. Lockett’s ability to catch the ball while running forward bit him Monday night against the Lions.
RENTON — It was right after watching Tyler Lockett’s cutthroat, 105-yard kickoff return against the Bears on Sept. 27, and Seahawks linebacker Mike Morgan had some veteran glowing to do about his team’s rookie returner:
“One of the best things about Lockett is he’s not afraid to get hit,” said Morgan, a key special-teams player. “A lot of returners that I’ve seen around the league, when they catch the ball, they catch it going backward. He catches it going forward. He’s almost already at full speed going forward, punts or kickoff returns. He’s a special dude.
“He’s able to hit it full speed. A lot of guys hesitate or are afraid to get hit. He makes our job so much easier. As a blocker, me and all the other guys know that all we have to do is hold onto our guy for one second, and he’ll be good. It’s almost like Golden Tate.
“When we first picked Lockett up, I was like, ‘He looks like Golden, he runs like Golden, but he’s faster than Golden.’ Golden was shifty, but he wasn’t as explosive down the field.”
That’s a lot to digest from Morgan, but here are the two relevant parts for the moment: 1) Lockett’s teammates and coaches value him as a truly special return man and rave about him; and 2) Lockett’s ability to catch the ball while running forward bit him Monday night against the Lions.
You remember the play: Lockett tried to take a running start on a hanging punt, only to have the ball bounce off his chest as he tried to catch it.
“He would tell you: He was trying to get too much out of that instead of just making a good, sure catch,” coach Pete Carroll said. “It was a very bold attempt. ‘Not now’ is kind of how we looked at it.”
And to his credit, that’s exactly what Lockett told reporters.
“You want to do a running start with the kickoffs, not the punts,” he said. “I just tried it out with a punt, tried to catch it on the run because I saw a wide-open hole, and it just didn’t work out.”
Lesson learned, and it’s an important one. One thing Carroll values most is taking care of the ball, which is why Bryan Walters had the punt-return job a year ago. Lockett has vault-like hands as a returner, but his gamble caught up to him. The Seahawks reminded Lockett this week that they want him to have both feet square under him when he fields punts.
Lockett does so many things so well that the Seahawks trust he will strike the right balance between risk and playing it smart. In fact, his decisiveness is one of the traits coaches and teammates appreciate most. Special-teams coach Brian Schneider said Lockett never stops moving his legs while returning, which sounds like a small thing but is vital to the job.
“That’s what makes most returners special,” Morgan said. “You see guys like Tavon Austin and guys like that run side to side, but a lot of times he’s losing yards. He might hit one big, but doing it the way Lockett does is more consistent and more positive yards. Dude is special.”
• The Seahawks’ injury report for Thursday included one change from Wednesday, with running back Marshawn Lynch listed as a limited participant.
He originally was listed as having not participated, which was his same status as Wednesday.
But the Seahawks revised the report, seeming to indicate he is making progress with a hamstring injury that kept him out of Monday night’s game against Detroit.
Carroll said Wednesday he hopes Lynch will be able to play Sunday at Cincinnati, calling it a game-time decision.
Here are the six players who did not take part Thursday: DE Demarcus Dobbs (shoulder), CB Tye Smith (hip), CB Tharold Simon (toe), CB Marcus Burley (hand), RB Fred Jackson (ankle and LB Kevin Pierre-Louis (hamstring).