A Seattle Seahawks playmaker a 5-foot-10, 200-pounder built in the mold of Percy Harvin showcased his dynamic versatility Sunday afternoon at CenturyLink Field.
Except the playmaker who looked like Harvin was not Harvin. Obtained at a steep cost in a trade with Minnesota, Harvin is recovering from hip surgery and likely wont make his Hawks debut until late November.
But the disappointment of losing Harvin for three months was minimized as Golden Tate was revealing an uncanny resemblance to a slot receiver/running back/return man during his teams 45-17 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars. First time Tate touched the ball on a lateral he took from quarterback Russell Wilson he gained 20 yards to midfield, beginning the seven-play touchdown drive that gave Seattle a 7-0 lead.
The second time Tates number was called, he picked up 9 yards on an end-around. A trend was afoot: The Seahawks coaches would be asking Tate to do a little bit of everything against the Jaguars. Tate would respond by doing a lot of everything.
He caught five passes for 88 yards. He returned four punts for 33 yards. Factor in those two first-quarter rushing attempts, and Tate finished with 150 all-purpose yards.
I had a blast, said the Notre Dame graduate, the Seahawks second-round selection in the 2010 draft. I was able to go out and play football. I got to be me, making plays and still having fun doing it.
An ebullient sort more prone to smile than lose himself in deep thoughts, Tate appeared to have a downsized role after the Hawks acquired Harvin for a 2013 first-round draft choice, along with a No. 3 and No. 7 in 2014. Considering Tates contract status his rookie deal expires after this season he was looking like he might be the odd man out.
And though coach Pete Carroll emphasized that the trade with the Vikings was all about Harvin and not a repudiation of Tate, theres only so many all-purpose threats an offensive huddle can accommodate.
When the Seahawks learned the extent of Harvins hip problems, Tate acknowledged the obvious.
Hes a huge playmaker, Tate said in August, and we had big plans for him in this offense. But were not going to be weeping without him.
Translation: The guy who wears jersey No. 81 knows how to elude tacklers in the open field, too.
Tate considers himself an unfinished product. He took blame Sunday for a short Wilson pass intended for him over the middle that was intercepted by Jaguars middle linebacker Paul Posluszny.
That was on me, said Tate, an ex-collegiate center fielder who believes he should catch any ball thrown in his direction. Ive still got to work on some things, fix some things.
Tate cant wait to return to practice Wednesday, when the Seahawks will go to work on their game plan for the Texans next Sunday in Houston. But first, hell sit down with the coaches and review his imperfect but impressive performance against the Jaguars.
I had a blast, he said. This team is having a blast. Every single day, the intensity is up with the coaches. Everything is clicking. Weve got the best fan base. Our trainers are coming up to us every single day, asking How are your bodies feeling? The nutrition guys are serving us great food to make our bodies feel right.
Every person in this locker room thinks hes important. Were doing what we need to do: massages, ice tubs, extra film. Everything is clicking right now.
You think Carroll is rubbing off on these guys? Tate not only radiates the vibes of his ever-positive head coach, he also talks in the same free-flowing stream of consciousness.
I asked Tate if this 2013 season was the most fun hes ever had playing football.
Most fun? he repeated. I wouldnt say most fun because college days having 11 catches for 150 yards you cant beat that. But its been a dream to be in this position, to be doing this since I was a young kid. I feel blessed and feel very, very fortunate that every time I show up at the stadium, Im like wow, Im doing what I love.
Im actually playing like a kid. Its awesome.
Hes playing like a kid, doing what he loves. And when Harvin is healthy enough to return, the question wont be whether Harvin cuts into Tates playing time.
The question will be: How will the Seahawks assimilate the old Percy Harvin into their offense? Because the new one is looking like a star.