RENTON — With 6-foot-4 receiver Sidney Rice on one side and 6-foot-5 Mike Williams on the other, second-year Seattle Seahawks receiver Golden Tate figured out pretty quickly that he needed to find a specific role for himself.
“I understand what’s going on,” Tate said. “I understand we’ve got two big, big targets with great hands on the outside. But I don’t think you have too many 6-4 slots, so I’m trying to make that my spot.
“Whenever you’ve got third-and-short or third-and-long, you can put Golden in the slot and let him do something and make a play. So, hopefully, I’m trying to get that trust with the organization and see how it goes.”
Tate’s maturation as a receiver was hampered by the lockout. Most NFL observers think that receivers experience the most growth and development between their first and second years in the league.
However, Tate was not able to reap the benefits of offseason workouts with Seattle coaches at the team’s facility because of the lockout. For the past four months, he stayed mostly in his hometown of Nashville, Tenn., working out with members of the Tennessee Titans.
“That’s been very frustrating because I’ve heard that’s when it kind of clicks, and you really kind of get the game,” Tate said about the offseason work. “So that would have been a great time for me to learn the offense and also learn some little things in the game. So it’s been frustrating. But I’ve got to do what I’ve got to do.”
Tate did have the benefit of working with veteran receiver Brandon Stokley last season, considered one of the better slot receivers in the game. After practice, Tate regularly worked with Stokley on route running, footwork and getting in and out of breaks quickly.
“The biggest thing is learning this slot,” Tate said. “So I’m trying to focus on learning the ins and outs of it. I’ve been watching (Minnesota’s) Percy Harvin on film and Brandon Stokley, and trying to figure out what they do. I actually talked to Stokley a couple times, getting some little pointers. So I’m learning. (I’ve) got a long way to go, but hopefully the coaches are finding confidence in me and that they can trust me.”
As a rookie, Tate finished with 21 receptions for 227 yards in 2010, and also returned a punt for 63 yards in an early-season game against Denver. But Seattle’s second-round draft pick out of Notre Dame was expected to make more of an impact.
Coach Pete Carroll has said he expects Tate to have a breakthrough year in his second season.
“I’ve got a better grasp of the game as a whole,” Tate said. “I need to focus on my route running because that was something that kept me off the field and being dependable. I mean I know I’m an athlete, and so does everyone else. So I think if I can get down the fundamentals of the game, then I can be successful and make an impact on the team this year.”
OLD MAN GALLERY
Rookie offensive guard John Moffitt knows a thing or two about showing respect for his elders.
Moffitt spent the first couple weeks of training camp picking the brain of veteran Robert Galley, who plays the same position.
“He’s old,” Moffitt said, before catching himself. “I mean he’s 31 – not old, but older for the league. He’s an experienced vet, so he’s got a lot of information. I like to sit by him in meetings and bounce stuff off of him.”
Moffitt, the former Wisconsin lineman, said he’s still transitioning from college to the pros, but he’s getting more comfortable with each repetition he takes in practice.
“The good thing is that I know what I know, and I’m starting to get a good grasp on what I don’t know,” the 24-year-old said. “I think once you can do that, you start to nail everything down.”
One aspect of the game that is being emphasized on the offensive line is false starts. Every time one of the offensive linemen jumps offside, they have to run a lap around the field and endure some playful taunting from the defense.
Moffitt said he has two false starts for far but refuses to use the compressed learning curve because of the lockout as an excuse.
“Blaming that is not a luxury that we have,” he said. “ The time we have is the time we have, and (we’ve) got to get things straight as soon as we can.”
Wide receiver Ben Obomanu returned to practice after an excused absence to tend to a death in the family. Wide receiver Kris Durham and linebacker Aaron Curry missed practice for undisclosed injuries. Others sitting out included defensive end Chris Clemons (ankle), cornerback Walter Thurmond (ankle), defensive tackle Red Bryant (knee), running back Thomas Clayton (unknown) and defensive lineman Kentwan Balmer (unknown). Wide receiver Deon Butler (leg), defensive tackle Colin Cole (ankle), tight end Cameron Morrah (toe) and defensive back Roy Lewis (knee) have not practiced and have been put on the physically unable to perform list. ... Members of the Blue Angels attended practice.
a few minutes with
DEFENSIVE LINEMAN ALAN BRANCH
NEW KID ON THE BLOCK: Alan Branch played defensive end for NFC West rival Arizona for four seasons, but he will move inside for Seattle and is tentatively slated to start next to Brandon Mebane at defensive tackle.
“I’m just a little more aggressive, that’s the main thing,” Branch said. “I’m still kind of reading, but mostly it’s just aggression and getting in the backfield as much as possible in this defense, and that’s the way I kind of like it.”
Branch, 26, still will see some playing time at defensive end, backing up Red Bryant once he’s healthy. But the former University of Michigan lineman said it doesn’t matter where they put him, he’s just getting after the football.
“I’m really comfortable all over the line,” he said. “If (coach Pete Carroll) wants me to play any technique, honestly, it doesn’t matter. I’ll be a wide receiver in a three-point stance if he wants.”
12TH MAN LOVE: Branch said he’s looking forward to escaping the heat of the desert, along with playing with crowd noise behind him at CenturyLink Field. “It’s been pretty good,” Branch said about the transition. “It’s better than 110 degrees outside, I’ll tell you that. So I’m having a good time out here. I’m liking it.”
And what was it like as a visitor at CenturyLink Field?
“It’s loud. Super loud – that 12th man is something else,” he said. “All the defenses talk about that like, ‘Man, if we had that at our home stadium how much better our (jump) would be.’ So I finally got that on my home side, so we’ll see what’s up with that.”
300-POUND PUNT RETURNER: An all-state defensive tackle at Cibola High School in Rio Rancho, N.M., Branch was highly recruited out of high school – as a defensive tackle, offensive tackle and fullback. At 6-foot-6 and 315 pounds, Branch actually returned three punts for touchdowns during his high school career.
“I was the only one who could catch the ball, so we just wanted possession there,” he said.
Eric D. Williams, staff writer