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Pete Carroll on Jermaine Kearse: ‘He’s a vital part of what we’re doing’

Posted Jul 31, 2013

Special teams. Slot receiver. Split end. Flanker. Second-year receiver Jermaine Kearse is juggling all these duties during the Seahawks training camp, and his versatility is vital with Sidney Rice and Percy Harvin sidelined.

To say that Jermaine Kearse can see the opportunity before him doesn’t tell the entire story for the second-year wide receiver from the University of Washington.

After spending the first half of his rookie season with the Seahawks on the practice squad and the second half on the active roster, Kearse has been getting snaps with the No. 1 offense in training camp practices because leading receiver Sidney Rice and offseason acquisition Percy Harvin are dealing with injury situations.

But the eye-opening aspect regarding Kearse’s improved play is that he had Lasik eye surgery during the offseason.

“It’s working out pretty well,” Kearse said. “I don’t have to deal with the hassle of contacts. I’ve got a stigmatism, so sometimes they move around and one eye may be blurry. So it’s nice to not have to worry about that.

“It’s probably the best thing I’ve spent my money on.”

Now Kearse can worry about increasing the role he carved out for himself last season after signing with the Seahawks as a rookie free agent.

“We like him across the board,” coach Pete Carroll said. “One of the great statements with him is he’s one of our core special teams guys. (Special teams coordinator) Brian Schneider has raved about his work there. That tells you a lot about him – he’s on our kickoff team, if you can imagine. He’s one of the starters on our kickoff team as a wide receiver. That’s a tremendous asset.”

Kearse is making inroads as a receiver this camp, whether lined up in the slot or outside at either split end or flanker.

“He’s versatile,” Carroll said. “He’s got terrific quicks. His catching range is excellent. He can play all three spots, which is great. So he’s a vital part of what we’re doing right now. It’s all to him. He’s busted his tail and really come through. And he’s been tough as heck, too.”

Which spot does Kearse consider his strength? Slot receiver, where that quickness Carroll mentioned is a plus? Split end, where he can use his 6-foot-1, 209-pound frame to his advantage? Flanker, where his catch radius is an asset?

“I feel like my strength is I can play all three spots,” Kearse said. “I feel a lot more confident, I’m a lot more comfortable with the offense. I know what to expect as far as what coach Carroll and (receivers) coach (Kippy) Brown want from me.

“I feel I’ve come a long way.”

Doug Baldwin, the team’s leading receiver as a rookie free agent in 2011 before playing through a series of injuries last season, also has noticed the change in Kearse’s game.

“Jermaine was very raw when he came in here his rookie season,” Baldwin said. “Now, he’s getting smarter about the game of football – he’s learning coverages, he’s learning to read defenses and defensive back’s positions. So now it’s all coming along for him.”

That definitely has been the case in practice the past two days. Tuesday, Kearse used a series of impressive moves to get off the line and then get open against 6-foot-4 cornerback Brandon Browner and catch a touchdown pass. Wednesday, Kearse caught a ball that was tipped by All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman while lying on his back.

“Jermaine is a phenomenal athlete,” Baldwin said. “He had that ability in college, but it’s just a faster pace at the NFL level. So to do what he’s doing now is phenomenal for being in his second year.”

Game Rewind: Seattle Seahawks