The Seattle Seahawks have several, big-body receivers battling for roster spots in a crowded position group.
Braylon Edwards, Terrell Owens, Ricardo Lockette, Kris Durham and Ben Obomanu all measure at least 6-foot-1 and weigh over 200 pounds.
But the Seahawks’ smallest receiver has made perhaps the biggest impact so far this exhibition season.
Fourth-year pro Deon Butler has been working mostly at slot receiver because Doug Baldwin has been nursing a hamstring injury the past two weeks.
Butler has just four receptions for 26 yards through the first two games, but three of his four catches have resulted in first downs. Quarterback Matt Flynn has looked to the Penn State product in critical stretches of the games.
The 5-10, 182-pound Butler, 26, is in the final year of the rookie deal he signed after being selected by Seattle in the third round of the 2009 draft.
He suffered a gruesome broken leg against San Francisco in December 2010 that cut short a promising season in which Butler had a career-high 36 receptions for 385 yards and four touchdowns.
But after spending the first six weeks of 2011 on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list, Butler worked his way back on the field, finishing with six receptions for 51 yards in the last five games.
“I definitely feel I’m back,” said Butler, who remains one of the fastest players on the team. “Last year I still played, and I was playing at game speed. But now I’ve really had my legs underneath me, and it’s just kind of different. With Doug (Baldwin) being out they’ve moved me to the slot, and I can still play outside. So I’ve been kind of doing a little bit of both. … And I think they like the way I move around in there, and it just fits well. And that’s the whole thing, just figuring out how you fit well into this offense with so many receivers.”
Seattle coach Pete Carroll has noticed.
“He did real well in the slot,” Carroll said. “He did a nice job again. And that’s two games in a row he’s done very well. He’s a very good player.”
Butler also had a first in exhibition play – his first tackle as an NFL player on a kickoff.
“That might have been my first tackle since Penn State,” Baldwin said with a laugh. “I kind of just got in the way there and he ran into me. I thought he was going to break to the outside, so it looked awkward because he kind of tried to run me over and caught me off guard.
“But as a guy that’s not going to be a No. 1 or No. 2 receiver you’ve got to play special teams. So I just got the opportunity to show that I’m not afraid to stick my nose in there. I’ve been smaller than a lot of people all my life, so it’s not like all of sudden I’m afraid of contact or hitting people.”
After taking Sunday off, the Seahawks will watch film and have weight training today before returning to a full practice schedule Tuesday in preparation for the team’s third preseason game Friday at Kansas City. … Seattle’s first-unit defense has forced five turnovers in a little more than three quarters of work so far in exhibition play. … Safety Jeron Johnson leads Seattle in tackles with eight through two games. … Rookie Greg Scruggs leads the team in sacks with 1.5. … Matt Flynn is 17-for-26 passing for 102 yards with no touchdowns and one interception. He’s been sacked three times, has a 3.9 yards per completion average and a 56.9 passer rating. … Rookie Russell Wilson has competed 22 of 33 passes for 279 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. Wilson has been sacked once, has an 8.5 yards per completion average and is third in the league during preseason play with a 110.5 passer rating.Eric D. Williams: 253-597-8437 firstname.lastname@example.org blog.thenewstribune.com/seahawks/