RENTON, Wash. — Beginning his third year in the league, Golden Tate appears poised to finally have his breakthrough season with the Seattle Seahawks.
Tate no longer looks lost on the practice field. He doesn’t get overly excited while making a catch in practice and has a quiet confidence to go along with his athleticism.
Tate became a more dependable weapon for the Seahawks (No. 22 in the AP Pro32) late last season. Sidney Rice had been placed on injured reserve after suffering a concussion in late November, which gave Tate the chance to step into a more pronounced role. Tate responded with 19 catches for 209 yards in the final five games.
“It takes guys a while at times at the receiver position,” receivers coach Kippy Brown said. “He’s got to be exact on his assignments and doing things right, he’s got to react to different coverages and it takes guys a while to get comfortable and be able to do it full speed.”
Tate’s rookie season was a struggle. He struggled to get a handle on the playbook and the nuances of playing the position at the professional level. He had managed to become a star at Notre Dame mainly by relying on his athletic ability.
Despite being a second-round draft pick, Tate was inactive for the season opener against San Francisco. He struggled to find playing time and managed just 21 catches for 227 yards and no touchdown in his rookie campaign. Last summer’s lockout didn’t help either as he wasn’t able to be around the coaches during the offseason and had to work on him own to improve his understanding.
By the end of last season, it all started to click.
“I’m confident in the offense so now I can focus on the details of the offense,” Tate said. “There’s a huge difference. The game is slowing down to me and I’m feeling more comfortable.”
Head coach Pete Carroll puts some of Tate’s lack of production on his own shoulders.
“I don’t think we used him enough and we didn’t bring him along as fast as we would have liked to early on, but never because we didn’t believe in him,” Carroll said. “He’s really a good football player and I’m really excited about him, he’s going to make good stuff happen.”
Rice has seen the growth in Tate both on and off the field. He’s no longer celebrating catches in practice and is going about his business like a veteran who’s done it all before.
“He’s grown a lot as a player. He used to make big plays, jump up, throw the ball in the air, jump around, things like that. I see him gaining a lot more professionalism out of himself. He’s doing much better,” Rice said.
With Rice still sidelined from contact as he recovers from offseason surgeries on both shoulders, Tate has been heavily involved with the first-team offense throughout camp. The team also added veterans Antonio Bryant and Braylon Edwards to the mix early in camp to push Tate as he tries to win a starting job.
Tate embraces the competition and sees it as pressure that forces him to get better every day. It’s a sign of the maturity he’s gained over the last two years.
“I feel like I’ve grown up a lot,” Tate said. “This year I’m just trying to stay focused. I know what I want and know what I want to achieve and just go after it.”