Focus on: Ricardo Lockette

Posted Aug 26, 2014

Ricardo Lockette’s first attempt at covering kickoffs was anything but special. But the Seahawks’ fourth-year wide receiver has developed into what coach Pete Carroll calls “as exciting a player on our special teams as anybody we’ve got.”

Ricardo Lockette is, in a word, fast.

Expand that description to two words and it’s really fast – as in NCAA Division II national champion in the 200-meter dash while at Fort Valley State in 2008, and a 4.37-second time in the 40-yard dash that tied for the third-fastest the NFL Scouting Combine in 2011.

But now that Lockette is learning to channel his speed into football skills, there’s more to talk about when it comes to the Seahawks’ fourth-year wide receiver and budding special teams standout.

“I can’t remember what year this was, but we went down to San Diego in preseason and we put him in on the kickoff coverage team and I was really excited to see him because knowing how fast he was,” coach Pete Carroll said after Monday’s practice in this short week to prepare for Thursday night’s preseason finale against the Raiders in Oakland.

“He ran a maybe 4.9 (seconds for 40 yards) on his kickoff coverage. He just couldn’t get going, couldn’t see where he was going.”

That was in the summer of 2011, when Carroll was in his second season as the Seahawks’ coach and Lockette was a rookie free agent. Flash forward to last Friday night and, well, Lockette did not look like the same players – because he’s not.

“The visual in my mind of what he looked like at one time to see what he’s doing now, he’s come a million miles,” Carroll said. “And he is a big factor. He’s as exciting a player on our special teams as anybody we’ve got.”

A symphony to Lockette’s hears, because he hasn’t always drawn such praise during his NFL career that had featured big plays with little consistency.

The 6-foot-2, 211-pound Lockette was on the 53-man roster for only the final two games his rookie season, but he had a 44-yard reception against the San Francisco 49ers at CenturyLink Field in Week 16 and a 61-yard touchdown reception in the season finale against the Cardinals in Arizona.

Lockette was released on the final cut in 2012 and signed to the practice squad, only to be released again. He was signed to the 49ers’ practice squad and became a very visible part of their run to the Super Bowl along the sideline and in the locker room.

After the 49ers released him last August, Lockette spent time on the Chicago Bears’ practice squad before being released and returning to the Seahawks in late October. He caught five passes for a 16.5-yard average during the regular season and added a 19-yard catch in the postseason. But his signature plays were a tackle on kickoff coverage in the Super Bowl that was featured in the Seahawks’ highlight film and another against the 49ers that was captured in a photograph that hangs in the locker room at CenturyLink Field.

This summer, Lockette has picked up where he left off. He has three coverage tackles to lead the special teams and two came against the Chicago Bears on Friday night – one at the Bears’ 22 for no gain on Jon Ryan’s only punt and the other at the Bears’ 12 on a kickoff.

“Those are extraordinary plays that he made,” Carroll said. “He’s just getting going. He loves participating and contributing that way. He’s really tough. He’s as fast as you can get. And he’s learning. He’s putting himself in good positions.

“He’s a big factor. We’re really excited about him.”