Phil? Full? By any moniker, Bates is just doing whatever is asked; whatever might help him earn a spot on the 53-man roster after spending most of his rookie season on the practice squad.
“It was cool,” Bates said. “Coach (Tom) Cable came to me and talked to me about it. And, I mean, I’m willing. Whatever I can do to help the team, and benefit myself as well as them, I’m with it.”
It helps that Bates has been in the offense, and makes a habit of learning the entire offense and not just his responsibilities on any given play.
“I don’t study like one position, I try to learn the whole picture,” he said. “So it hasn’t been that hard. I’ve just got to really fine-tune what to do.”
And he has been getting ample help, starting with Pro Bowl-caliber fullback
“Watching Mike Rob has helped out a lot. He’s amazing,” Bates said. “All the guys in the backfield help me out – Marshawn, Turb. Even Spence has been helping me out, just getting lined up right. So it’s really been cool.”
“He’s a big kid,” coach Pete Carroll said. “He was 233 pounds when we started this experiment and he’ll be 240 within another week. He’s just a really good all-around football player. We love that he’s really fast. He’s a terrific catcher.
“So if it could work out, then we might be able to develop a player.”
Carroll pointed to what Cable, the Seahawks’ offensive line coach, was able to do with Marcel Reece while the head coach of the Oakland Raiders. Reece was a wide receiver in high school and at the University of Washington. Cable moved him to fullback and he caught a 30-yard touchdown pass against the Seahawks in 2010, Carroll’s first season as coach.
“We have that thought in the back of our mind, too, that maybe we can create that,” Carroll said.
The move to fullback is not an indictment against how Bates was playing at his original position.
“He’s done very well at wide receiver. He’s had a really good camp,” Carroll said. “We just thought maybe there might be something special there for us.”
If nothing else, the move has given Bates a new nickname.