After the Seahawks wrapped up Tuesday's practice, their eighth of organized team activities, Tyler Lockett stayed on the field to work with rookie receiver DK Metcalf on the second-round pick's release at the line of scrimmage.
It was a brief moment that helps illustrate how things could be different for Lockett in his fifth season with the Seahawks. It's not that Lockett wasn't willing to help his fellow receivers in years past, but prior to this year, Doug Baldwin was more likely going to be the one giving advice to young receivers. With Baldwin no longer on the team however, and with the Seahawks featuring a very young group at that position aside from Baldwin and Jaron Brown, Lockett has already started to show that he will have a different role on the team this season than he has in the past, even if he already demonstrated last year that he could be the team's top receiver in terms of production.
"He senses it, I'm sure, just by the way he's expressing himself," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said earlier in OTAs. "His background, experience, success that he's had, he's naturally in that position right now. I've seen a number of instances already where it's obvious that he gets it. You kind of grow into it, and he's doing that."
But as Carroll and Lockett have both noted, Lockett taking on a bigger leadership role doesn't mean Lockett is trying to replace Doug Baldwin.
"I don't think we replace Doug," Carroll said. "Doug was Doug, and we won't ever replace him."
Instead, Lockett, who last year led the Seahawks with 57 catches for 965 yards and 10 touchdowns, will use one of the most important lessons he learned from Baldwin and apply it to his leadership.
"The biggest thing that I learned when it comes to Doug is you have to be yourself," Lockett said. "I have to be able to understand who I am as a leader and what I bring to the team as a leader. The things that he brought, I was able to learn from that and I was able to see that. But he also taught me how to be myself, because if I can't be myself, everybody else won't be able to accept the message that I'm trying to allow them to be able to receive. So I have to be able to speak from a willing heart."
Lockett, who as offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer put it, "had a monster year" in 2018—Russell Wilson had a perfect 158.3 passer rating when targeting him last year—doesn't need to change his approach to take on more of a leadership role. Schottenheimer said Lockett "is going to lead the charge" at receiver, but that will happen not because Lockett suddenly tries to take on Baldwin's persona, but rather because what got Lockett to this point in his career will allow him to help young players grow as they learn from him.
"I think it happens naturally," Schottenheimer said. "They watch the way he works. He doesn't have to say much, just because of the way he works. If I'm nitpicking, he dropped a big third down pass, right? We came right back to him and he scored; I think that's the best example for a young player… So he doesn't have to say much. He's a terrific player, he's a great young man, and he's very well respected."
And for Lockett, part of the process of becoming more of a leader will be embracing the uncomfortable parts of taking on that new challenge.
"It's all about how you approach it," he said. "Obviously, it could be very uncomfortable, but every situation is uncomfortable whenever you haven't experienced it before. That's basically what growth is—it's something that you've got to get accustomed to. People who have kids, they never were ready to be dads. You can prepare and you can do everything that you can, but until you finally get that kid in front of you, it's a learning experience and it's something that you learn each and every day. And that's kind of how I view this approach when it comes to leadership, when it comes to growing as a man and growing as a player. Every single day, something new is going to be able to happen, so I have to be able to approach it in a way of just being able to go with the flow. And that's kind of the way that I've just been trying to develop my mindset is to go with the flow. Don't expect too little, don't expect too much. See what presents itself in front of you and then respond accordingly."
Photos from the Seattle Seahawks' eighth session of organized team activities held on Tuesday, June 4 at Renton's Virginia Mason Athletic Center.