When Joey Galloway won NFC Special Teams Player of the Month as a rookie for the Seahawks in 1995, Tyler Lockett was three years old.
"I remember hearing his name whenever I was a little kid, like playing football, tackling myself in the living room with my grandpa, being able to watch football games and stuff like that," Lockett said Thursday after learning he was just the second Seahawks rookie to be awarded the monthly special teams honor. "I honestly think it's just a great feeling to be able to be mentioned with the greats like that, Joey Galloway.
"It's a great honor and I'm going to always cherish it and for me it's just continuing to get better each week."
Lockett, who returned a punt 57 yards for a touchdown in Week 1 against the St. Louis Rams and brought back a kickoff a franchise-record 105 yards for a touchdown in Week 3 against the Chicago Bears, was the only NFL player to return two kicks for touchdowns through the first month of play. The pair of scoring plays made Lockett, whose 334 return yards (240 kickoff, 94 punt) are most in the League, the second rookie in NFL history (Tony Green, 1978) to have both punt-return and kickoff-return touchdowns in his team's first three games to start a season.
"That's really exciting recognition for him," Seattle coach Pete Carroll said. "But also for all the guys that blocked for him."
Lockett agreed with his head coach's assessment, deflecting praise to the 10 teammates who were in on his returns for touchdowns.
"The biggest thing is a returner can't do any of the things without his other 10 people out there," Lockett said. "If you took the other 10 people out of the equation it's one versus 11 and obviously a returner wouldn't be able to do any of the things he's capable of doing. So you've got to have people out there that's willing to sacrifice, that's willing to do their jobs. That's why whenever anything great happens I always give them a shoutout just because it's their blocks that some people don't ever see, or don't ever talk about, that help the returner get loose."
Breaking records is nothing new for Lockett, who set high marks in 17 categories as a receiver and return specialist at Kansas State, a career that included besting his father, Kevin, for Wildcats records in receptions (249), yards (3,710), and touchdowns (29). When asked about his early success in the NFL, Lockett said he still has a ways to go to become the player he wants to be.
"The biggest thing for me is I'm still learning a lot," Lockett said. "The biggest thing is just me going out there and being able to play, not think. Even in the return game there's some things that I want to be able to learn as far as maybe just down the road. I may not ever need it or I may need it, just learning how to set things up differently than how I've been setting things up now.
"As far as receiver, just me being able to continue to get better, continue to understand my role and my job on the team. Being able to make sure I'm making those blocks when they need me to, making sure I'm open whenever they need me to be, just little things like that. Because you never know when your name's going to get called, but as soon as it gets called I want to make sure that I'm ready."
Lockett returned two kicks for touchdowns in the preseason, too, so as his accomplishments start to stack up in the regular season he's heard the chatter that teams may eventually stop kicking him the football. If that's the case, Lockett outlined the approach he'll take.
"For me, it's all about that one opportunity," he said. "So even if we play a team and they start kicking every single ball out of bounds and they keep kicking touchbacks, the good thing that I always said in college was if I wasn't getting enough passes and stuff I still have kickoff return, if they're not kicking it to me they've still got to punt it to me, and if they want to punt the ball out of bounds and stuff like that I'll take it, it gives us great field position.
"But that one time that they mess up, that's what we need to be able to capture and we need to be able to make the best out of that opportunity once they kick it to us."