Throughout his eight-year career, Tyler Lockett has been a key player for the Seahawks, first as an All-Pro kick and punt returner, then eventually as a receiver who has developed into one of the best, albeit underrated, pass-catchers in the game.
What Lockett has also been throughout his career is remarkably durable, missing only one regular season game due to injury—and it took a broken leg for that to happen—so it will be a rare occurrence for the Seahawks to have to play the Chiefs on Saturday without Lockett on the field.
"It's always going to be strange whenever Tyler is not playing, or somebody has been there for so long and not playing," receiver DK Metcalf said. "It's just another challenge along the way that we've got to overcome."
The good news for the Seahawks is that Lockett, who had surgery on Monday, isn’t expected to be out long, possibly returning as soon as next week, but for this weekend at least, the Seahawks know they need to, as Metcalf put it, overcome the absence of their offensive captain and leading receiver.
Exactly how they'll make up for Lockett won't be known until gameday—they could throw more to Metcalf, or they could increase the roles of players like Marquise Goodwin or Laquon Treadwell, who was signed off the practice squad Tuesday, or they could throw more to tight ends, or they could try to run the ball more often—but one thing Seahawks coach Pete Carroll does know is that it won't fall on one player to replace Lockett's impact on the offense.
"It really gives an opportunity for Marquise and Treadwell, see what he can do to help us through, and all the way through the ranks," Carroll said "Dareke (Young) will continue to play, Penny (Hart)'s working at it too. So everybody's going to have to fit together. You can't replace Tyler. He's too extraordinary in what he does. We'll do other things to offset."
Without the presence of Lockett, who leads the Seahawks with 964 receiving yards and eight receiving touchdowns, the Chiefs could decide to focus more of their attention on Metcalf, who has a team-high 79 catches for 924 yards and six scores. If that happens, Metcalf will be ready.
"I'm just going to continue to go out there and continue to play football," he said. "Whatever the defense does, I'm just going to continue to run my route and just try to beat whoever is in front of me."
And Metcalf is also confident that Goodwin, who has been very impressive as Seattle's No. 3 receiver, catching 27 passes for 387 yards and four touchdowns. While Goodwin hasn't been targeted a ton so far—that'll happen when you're teammates Lockett and Metcalf, he's come through in big moments, with 18 catches for first downs on 35 total targets.
"They are going to have to put their track shoes on, because he's pretty fast from what I've seen at practice," Metcalf said of Goodwin. "It's a chance for him—and Laquon is being called up—so it's an opportunity for him to step up and make some plays for us. It's going to be a fun game to watch and see what everybody does and how they try to stop us."
Said Carroll when asked about Goodwin, "He's done everything. He's caught every ball we have thrown at him. He's made all the plays. He's been spectacular in his role. I think he has four or five touchdowns. He's doing a good job and he flies. We are thrilled that he may even get more attention."
For Treadwell, this game is a chance to build upon what, on the practice field, has been a good early impression with the Seahawks after signing to the practice squad in November. A former first-round pick, Treadwell's career hasn't gone exactly as he'd have hoped, but he's looking forward to an opportunity to close out the season strong.
"I'm super excited," Treadwell said. "It's truly been a blessing being here in Seattle. From the first day I got here, I felt very comfortable coming in… I take every opportunity seriously and I'll put my best foot forward every opportunity I've got. This is the most important one right now because it's the only one I have. I'm going to do my best to be the best version of myself each and every day, be the best teammate, and try to help my team win in any possible way."
Treadwell, a 2016 first-round pick of the Vikings, is coming off the best season of his career, having caught 33 passes for 434 yards in Jacksonville last season, and he signed with Seattle in part because of the presence of offensive passing game coordinator/receivers coach Sanjay Lal, who was Jacksonville's receivers coach last season.
"I'm definitely at a space in my career where I have a lot more in the tank," Treadwell said. "I know I can still play at a high level. At Jacksonville I was allowed to play a little bit more last year due to the situation that was going on there, and I kind of showed myself more than what other people may have expected, but I truly still hold myself at a high standard, I still think I can play at a high level each and every week. Leaving Jacksonville last year, people may say this happened or that happened, but the coaching staff knew that I was one of the hardest workers in the building.
"I don't take these opportunities for granted, and if my name is called, I'll be ready."
With Goodwin, Treadwell, Young and Hart all potentially stepping into bigger roles, and with the tight end trio of Will Dissly, Noah Fant and Colby Parkinson ready to do their part, the Seahawks will still miss Lockett's presence, but they're confident the offense will still get the job done.
"We are going to miss him, he's a warrior, but we are going to have to pick up the flag and try to get a win for him," Dissly said. "We'll see. I think we have to get back to taking what the defense gives us, going and attacking their weak spots, and try to create plays. If it happens to be in the air or on the ground, the tight ends are happy to help.