Jake Heaps prepares for big encore with Seahawks
Thu., Aug. 11, 2016
SEATTLE – The trick for Jake Heaps Saturday will be to pretend that the moment of a lifetime doesn’t really mean a thing.
One of the most-decorated players in Washington state prep history at Skyline High before enduring a rocky college career that included stops at three different schools, Heaps is expected to see playing time at quarterback for the Seattle Seahawks in their preseason opener Saturday at Kansas City.
And while it may just be the preseason – and potentially just a few series to close out the game – for Heaps it marks not only the most significant opportunity yet to revive his career but also the culmination of what he said was his “childhood dream’’ of playing for the Seahawks.
“Stepping out on that field is going to be an amazing thing,’’ Heaps said of Saturday’s game at Arrowhead Stadium. “But I’ve just got to hold in those emotions and control them and just go out there and have fun.’’
That’s what he’s tried to do through the first two weeks of training camp, a time during which his steady play has earned raves from coaches and players.
“He’s been the most accurate quarterback in camp so far,’’ said receiver Doug Baldwin, who also often did individual work with Heaps during the offseason. “There’s not that many guys that come in with his work ethic. It’s very nice to see because he’s humble, he’s going to work his tail off and he’s done an excellent job of progressing, learning the playbook. But then you see him out here on the field and he’s dropping dimes all the time.’’
Offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell went as far as to say on Wednesday that Heaps is “pushing’’ rookie Trevone Boykin for the backup spot behind Russell Wilson.
“Both these guys are making some big splash plays out here,’’ Bevell said. “So it is going to be fun to watch them play and see how much they are going to be able to retain and react to.’’
That’ll be the real key – how they perform under the pressure of a game – for each to give the Seahawks faith that they can actually hold down the backup quarterback job.
The Seahawks have said they will keep all options open when it comes to the backup quarterback spot, including scouring the waiver wires for a veteran when cuts are made in a few weeks.
But for now, the battle remains between Boykin – an undrafted rookie free agent from TCU – and Heaps.
For Heaps, simply being in camp is something of a victory in itself.
After a mercurial college career that ended in 2014 at the University of Miami in a season in which he threw just 12 passes, Heaps received a training camp shot last year with the New York Jets. But he got on the field for just one series, throwing just one incomplete pass, before being released.
He later played two games with the Brooklyn Bolts of the Fall Experimental Football League but eventually returned home and worked as a quarterback tutor while continuing to explore any and all playing options, including the Canadian Football League.
Along the way he had a few workouts with the Seahawks. A turning point came when Heaps threw passes at the University of Washington’s Pro Day in March with Seahawks coaches in attendance. With contract talks lagging with Tarvaris Jackson, the backup the last three seasons, the team signed Heaps in May to add depth behind Wilson and Boykin.
And if some might view Heaps as the proverbial camp arm who can be trusted to know the playbook and understand what the team wants, Heaps was just happy to get any foot in the door.
“It’s been ups and downs (the last year) now knowing where exactly I’m going, where I’m going to end up,’’ said Heaps, who turned 25 in June, the same month in which he also became a father when his wife, Brooke, gave birth to a boy, Jackson Tyler.
“Been a lot of emotions back and forth. … you definitely have doubts. But I just have always been a big believer that you just keep positive, you just keep working hard and good things will follow.’’
He takes that same tack when asked if getting on the field in any manner for the Seahawks serves as a measure redemption for a college career that was always going to have a hard time living up to the hype that surrounded his high school career and never went according to plan as he went first to BYU, then Kansas, then Miami.
“I think through all of those things there might be people that want to take the negative approach on it,’’ he said. “It’s had its ups and downs. But it’s helped me become the player I am today. I’ve been through a lot of different styles, I’ve seen a lot of different things, and it’s helped me a lot with my game moving forward.
“So having this opportunity, I feel like this is the right place and the right situation for me and now it’s just a matter of going out there and capitalizing on the opportunity.’’
Around the league
Jimmy Garoppolo made his preseason debut, spreading the ball around for 168 yards and the New England Patriots beat the New Orleans Saints 34-22 on Thursday night in Foxborough, Massachusetts. Garoppolo played the entire first half as he preps to start the first four games of the regular season with Tom Brady suspended for his involvement in the “Deflategate” case. … Mark Sanchez made a strong opening argument for Denver’s starting quarterback job, throwing for 99 yards and a touchdown in the first quarter in the defending Super Bowl champion Broncos’ 22-0 victory at Chicago. … San Diego Chargers wide receiver Stevie Johnson will miss the season with a knee injury. Johnson hurt his right knee during the second practice of training camp. The nine-year pro underwent surgery Tuesday and was told Wednesday that his season was done.
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