RENTON, Wash. - You might have read this story before.
Twice in fact, or at least something similar to it, because since the Seahawks drafted Golden Tate in 2010, no training camp has been complete without a story regarding Tate’s potential emergence as a playmaker.
And if you’re tired of reading about it, well, that’s understandable. Tate is kind of tired of talking about it, if you want to know the truth.
“It’s tough because you’ve said it the past two years, and it clearly didn’t work,” he said. “Hopefully this is a different year. Hopefully I finally make the strides, and earn the playing time and make the plays they think I should make and I know I can make.”
Saying something is not the same as doing it, though. Tate knows that better than anyone, and after a strong finish to last season, he might never get a better chance than this one. The release of Mike Williams created a receiving vacancy on the opposite side from Sidney Rice. With Doug Baldwin entrenched as the slot receiver, Tate is competing with teammates Ben Obomanu, Kris Durham and Ricardo Lockette at split end.
So here we go again, another Seahawks season begins with the question of whether the receiver who was such a talented playmaker at Notre Dame is ready to establish himself as an NFL starter.
Tate, a second-round draft pick, had impressive offseason workouts leading into his rookie season, and there was hope he would make an immediate impact. He didn’t. Tate was a healthy scratch his first game, not included among the four receivers the Seahawks had active for the game. Tate finished his season with 21 catches.
It was a humbling experience. To that point, Tate’s athleticism had always been his trump card, a guarantee he would get opportunities.
“I’ve always been the guy you’re throwing the ball to,” he said. “I never had to work for my position. It was always given to me, I was always more athletic.”
Athleticism alone isn’t enough to succeed in the NFL, though, something receivers coach Kippy Brown said Tate had to learn.
“In pro football, where the talent level is so high and everybody’s good, the difference is guys that can do things right and execute,” Brown said. “He finally figured that out.”
It took some time, though. His second season began without the benefit of offseason training to learn a new playbook. He also switched positions, playing more slot receiver early in the year.
He caught a pass in all but one game last season, but it was the final month that he really emerged after injuries to Rice and then Williams left the Seahawks searching for alternatives. Tate caught 19 passes the final five games.
“The way I look at it, I definitely made strides,” Tate said. “I kind of earned the organization’s trust, earned the quarterbacks’ trust and guys on the team. So it’s kind of refreshing, looking back on it, I have somewhere to pick up from.”
He turns 23 this week, and while at 5 feet 10 he’s shorter than most starting receivers, he has good hands and is explosive running after the catch. Tate doesn’t have to learn a new offense this season - a first for him in the NFL - and also has the benefit of a full offseason of workouts. Maybe this year won’t turn out to be the same old story.