For Seahawks’ wide-outs, it’s better to receive than to give

Posted Jul 25, 2014

The Seahawks held their first training camp practice on Friday without Golden Tate and Sidney Rice, but there was no drop off at the wide-out position because of the efforts of Percy Harvin, Doug Baldwin, Kevin Norwood and others.

Doug Baldwin got past cornerback Byron Maxwell along the sideline to run down a long touchdown pass from Russell Wilson. Paul Richardson, this year’s top draft choice, caught a short pass from Tarvaris Jackson and used a nifty stutter step to get around the defender. Rookie free agent Kevin Smith hauled in a TD pass from Terrelle Pryor. Percy Harvin got the ball and was a blur as he exploded up the sideline, to the delight of the fans filling the berm adjacent to the practice field.

And rookie Kevin Norwood continued to look like a steal of a fourth draft choice by making impressive catches of passes thrown by Jackson, Wilson and Pryor.

During the initial practice of the Seahawks’ Training Camp presented by Bing on Friday, it was difficult to tell that the offense was functioning without last year’s leading receiver – Golden Tate, who signed with the Detroit Lions in free agency; and its most-experienced wide-out – Sidney Rice, who announced his retirement on Wednesday.

“We love our position,” coach Pete Carroll said when asked about the position that has lost two good-hands guys.

Having Harvin on the practice field and contributing is a good place to start with Carroll’s love affair with the wide-out group. Last summer, after the Seahawks acquired him in an offseason trade with the Minnesota Vikings, Harvin couldn’t practice and eventually had hip surgery that limited him to one regular-season game.

“He’s had an extraordinary offseason. He looks great,” Carroll said of Harvin. “He’s a highly conditioned guy and he looks fantastic and fast out here today, right off the bat. So that’s a big deal.”

So was the fact that Harvin was feeling as good as he looked.

“It feels tremendously good,” he said through a smile. “We were just talking to all the trainers earlier today and saying like last year at this time I was in there consulting with a whole bunch of doctors looking through the window and seeing all the fans and wanting to be out here so bad.

“So this year, just to be able to get my foundation back and go through the whole offseason with no problems – OTAs, mandatory camp and then to this camp. So as long as I just keep practicing and just keep building my foundation, I’ll be fine.”

And when Harvin is fine, well, it’s like he said, “I’m just looking forward to putting it all together and being the monster I know I can be.”

Carroll and receivers coach Kippy Brown also are encouraged by the continuing development of Doug Baldwin, who has had 51 and 50 receptions in his two full seasons since joining the team as a rookie free agent in 2011; and Jermaine Kearse, who showed that he deserved more playing time with every big catch he made during the team’s run to the Super Bowl last season.

And Richardson and Norwood were added in the draft this year to complement The Big Three. Richardson brings the type of speed the Seahawks have not had the position since – dare we say – Joey Galloway was catching 36 TD passes from 1995-98. Norwood, meanwhile, has a nice combination of size (6 feet 2, 199 pounds), speed and skills.

“What we’ve seen is really positive,” Carroll said. “Those guys have great hands. They’ve have tremendous catching range. They’re natural catching all the balls. They have really obvious receiver instincts.

“But we’ve got to get them banged around. We’ve got to get them in the speed of things and get them out against our guys when we get the pads on and see how that goes. I don’t anticipate any problem. They look so comfortable and so natural; I think they’re going to be able to contribute. They’re different types of receivers and we’ll see how we can fit them in. But we’re very encouraged at this time.”

Also in the hunt for what likely will be five or six spots on the 53-man roster are Ricardo Lockette, Bryan Walters, Phil Bates, Arceto Clark, Taylor Price, just-signed David Gilreath, Matthews and Smith.

“That’s just a hats off to the whole organization – the whole scouting department and coach Carroll and those guys,” Harvin said. “The last couple of years, they’ve been drafting this roster to get it to where it’s at today, where there are tons of players at each group – whether it’s linebackers, or DBs, or receivers, or running backs.

“We’ve got depth at all positions and I think that’s what makes this team very dangerous.”

It’s a matter of strength in numbers, because one of the cornerstone strengths of Carroll’s approach is competition that brings out the best in everyone.

As Carroll concluded, “It’s just obvious that we have a good strong position group and we’re excited about these guys.”