The Seahawks will use a by-committee approach to replace third wide receiver Paul Richardson.
That was the word from Seattle head coach Pete Carroll during his Wednesday meeting with the media, when Carroll said the club would use a rotation of Kevin Norwood, Ricardo Lockette, and Chris Matthews in place of Richardson, the team's first pick in the 2014 NFL Draft who suffered a season-ending ACL injury after going up for a ball in this past Saturday's 31-17 win over the Carolina Panthers.
"Everybody is going to just contribute," Carroll said. "It's not going to change us that much, but we'll miss him. Wish we had him."
In Richardson, what the Seahawks will miss is a player who put up 29 catches for 271 yards and a touchdown during the regular season. But more importantly, they'll be without a player who had come on strong toward the end of the year.
Fifteen of Richardson's 29 grabs came through the Seahawks' final four games. Those catches went for 169 of his 271 yards, including two 50-plus-yard outings in back-to-back games to close the season.
"We'll miss Paul Richardson, he's a guy that really stepped up," Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson said on Wednesday. "This guy played some great football in the past several weeks, so we're going to miss him.
"But we have other guys that are going to come in and play great football."
That list of "other guys" starts with Norwood, the rookie wideout out of Alabama who the Seahawks selected in the fourth round of last May's draft, and Lockette, Seattle's special teams ace who has had success hauling in the deep ball. Through the team's 2014 campaign, in limited work behind Richardson, starters Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse, and since-traded Seahawk Percy Harvin, Norwood and Lockette combined for 20 catches for 297 yards and two touchdowns.
Norwood's nine grabs for 102 yards came despite being inactive for seven games this season and after a foot injury forced him to miss a good chunk of training camp last summer. Knowing his number might be called more in Sunday's NFC Championship game against the Green Bay Packers isn't changing Norwood's approach.
"I don't care what game it is," said Norwood. "I go out there with the same attitude, same mentality. Just go out and do what I do best - that's catch balls, make first downs, and big plays. Whatever they need me to do and whatever I can to help the team win."
The way Norwood prepares for this week's game might not be any different with Richardson out, but offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell noted Norwood has been in increased harmony with Wilson on the practice field.
"I think he's got really good rapport," Bevell said of the Norwood-Wilson connection. "I mean just the last couple days, knowing he has the chance to be active he's gotten a lot of balls out here, even on the bonus day that we had. He works with them all the time. There was a few weeks back where he was active, I think he had 45 plays in that game. We got him a couple throws.
"It's not like they haven't worked together and Kevin's not ready to go," Bevell added. "He's ready."
In Lockette, the Seahawks feature a fast and physical former NCAA Division II national champion in the 200 meters who has flashed big-play ability this season. He finished the year with 11 catches for 195 yards and had Seattle's first touchdown of the season on a 33-yard pass from Wilson in Week 1, when the Seahawks hosted the same team they'll meet in Sunday's conference title tilt.
"That had nothing to do with this game," Lockette said of Seattle's 36-16 September win over Green Bay. "This is a totally different season right now, different game, and I'm just preparing like I prepare every week.
"I think the preparation that the coaches have for us and the plan they prepare for us will have me ready to play," he added. "I have no worries."
Photos of the Seahawks Wednesday Practice in the lead up to the NFC Championship game.