RENTON — A week earlier, Golden Tate stood at his cubicle and talked of his embarrassment over not being included on the Seahawks’ active roster for the season-opener against San Francisco.
He had made some false assumptions, and taken some things for granted. He realized there were some things he failed to understand about how the National Football League worked.
He summed it up thusly: “Lesson learned.”
This week before Wednesday’s practice, Tate was again approached for comments. But this time it was about his 63-yard punt return against Denver on Sunday, and the 52-yard reception that made him the most threatening player on the team.
“I guess that shows how things can change in this business,” Tate said. “One week I could be inactive and the next week I’d dress and I’d get my chance. I guess the lesson is that you build trust with your quarterback and with your coaches by what you do in practice. If you look good in practice, they’re more likely to call your number.”
After his big plays in the loss at Denver, we all should be seeing more of No. 81, the rookie second-round draft pick out of Notre Dame.
But showing what a quick study he is, Tate was not about to make any more assumptions about playing time or his role in the offense.
“The way I see it, being active or inactive is up to me,” he said. “It’s not up to somebody being injured or not playing well, it’s up to me to practice hard and do everything right, to show the coaches I deserve to be out there. How I practice these next days is what will determine whether I deserve it or not.”
Tate’s recent history has been eventful. Although he was the Biletnikoff Award winner as the nation’s best college receiver, he was still available for the Seahawks in the second round of the draft.
He then got some unflattering press regarding the after-hours pilfering of maple bars.
But during minicamps and offseason training sessions, he kept making eye-catching plays with the kind of athleticism the Seahawks haven’t seen in a while at that position.
What he failed to do was catch on to the details of his craft, the small things, the discipline and precise geometry of the routes. And so he was left sitting when the season opened.
Message received for a big gain. Clue caught with both hands.
“The biggest thing is he’s open to learning,” said receiver Deion Branch, whom Tate credits as being a valued and trusted counselor. “Not all young guys are that open to learning. You get used to being ‘The Guy’ in college and you can do what you want, however you want. When you get to the NFL, everybody is ‘The Guy.’ So you have to take what guys tell you and what you learn in the classroom and lay that out on the field and do all the small things that are important.”
Cornerback Marcus Trufant has been covering wide receivers in the NFL for eight seasons, and has seen what it takes for the young ones to grow into professionals.
“He has all the natural abilities to play the position,” Trufant said. “He’s kind of a double threat because he’s played some running back, too. So that presents some matchup problems because he’s strong and he’s fast and he’s got great hands.”
Playing the position is more than just running past a defender and pulling down the ball, Trufant said.
“Everybody has a learning curve at every position,” Trufant said. “At wide receiver, it’s pretty big because of the schemes that defenses throw at you. You just can’t get away with doing the same things you did in college. But I think he’s up to speed and headed in the right direction.”
And doing it one day at a time.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re a 12-season veteran or a two-day rookie, you have to prove yourself every day and you can never relax.” Tate said.
“If I remember that I have to earn my job every day, then I’ll be fine.”
Dave Boling: 253-597-8440 email@example.com