During the break between the Seahawks’ minicamp in June that concluded their offseason program and the start of training camp this week, the fourth-year wide receiver hit home runs in two charity softball games, led his foursome to the low score in the Jacob Green Charity Golf Classic and carded three pars in a five-hole stretch at the TPC Snoqualmie Ridge course in a promotional event for the Boeing Classic.
“You know what, for one, I’m just a competitor. I’m a competitor. I don’t like to lose,” Tate said through a smile after his stint at the podium following Friday’s practice at Virginia Mason Athletic Center. “I want to be the best at whatever I do.”
Better yet, Tate has continued to brandish his athletic ability in the team’s first two practices with several impressive receptions.
“I’ve grown up a lot,” he said. “I know what to do.”
Tate’s development since being selected in the second round of the 2010 NFL Draft has been a steady-as-he-goes process that has, at times, frustrated him and his coaches: 21 receptions for 227 yards and no touchdowns as a rookie; 35 catches for 382 yards and three TDs in 2011; 45 receptions for 688 yards and seven TDs last season, including more than his share of spectacular scoring grabs.
“Huge jump every year. Learned a lot each every year. Never been satisfied,” Tate said. “But I’ve had the coaching staff – (receivers coach) Kippy Brown and coach (Pete) Carroll – be on my butt. So I’ve just been working every day to get to the position I am now; to be a starter, to be a guy that this organization relies on.”
Don’t look now, but Tate has become that guy – and remains a guy who is capable of delivering even more. In addition to starting at split end, Tate is first in line in the search to replace Leon Washington as the punt returner. But his first priority remains catching the ball in the passing game.
“Golden is unbelievable when the ball is in the air,” said fellow receiver
“That’s Golden’s specialty. There aren’t many people in the league who have the capabilities Golden has when the ball is in the air.”
Just ask the cornerbacks Tate beat to the ball while scoring his seven TDs last season – two in the Week 3 upset of the Green Bay Packers; two more in the Week 10 win over the Minnesota Vikings; and one each in victories against the Carolina Panthers, New York Jets and Chicago Bears.
Asked about Tate’s impressive toolbox of skills, quarterback
“He’s got the strongest hands,” Wilson said. “Just how he goes up and gets the football.”
Just the way the 5-foot-10 Tate did along the sideline on Wilson’s back-shoulder throw against tight coverage from 6-4 cornerback
“Just two really good players going after it, and Golden makes a great, great catch and holds on it,” Wilson said. “Golden is spectacular.”
But wait, there’s more to Tate than those vice-like hands and his ball-in-the-air ability.
“He’s very quick, has cat-like reflexes. Just how he moves and he makes people miss,” Wilson said. “Golden is a really important player.”
Asked about the receiver who was part of his initial draft class with the Seahawks, Carroll opted for Tate’s total – and still evolving – game.
“He’s a tremendous football player,” Carroll said. “It did take him a while to catch on to the whole expectations of what it takes to play here. It was never because he wasn’t talented. It was never because he wasn’t a good athlete or any of that type of stuff.
“It just took him a while.”
Tate realizes he’s still far from perfect, but he’s also perfectly fine with the on-going process.
“When I go in the film room now and watch a route run incorrectly, I know exactly what the coaches are going to say to me to make that better,” he offered. “I’m having fun. This is my job. My job is I get to come out here and play the game that I love and get paid for it.
“So I can’t complain. It’s a blessing to be able to do this.”
And the Seahawks feel blessed to have him.
“We have no hesitation to feature him and get him the football,” Carroll said. “He is a very good football player. Right now, it’s all ahead of him. He is just kind of getting started in a sense. But I think we got a fine player.”