Jermaine Kearse was meeting with the media in front of his locker Sunday when his interview was interrupted by fellow Seattle Seahawks receiver Doug Baldwin.
“I just want to say one thing: Jermaine Kearse is a beast,” Baldwin said. “He is a beast. I don’t know how many catches or how many targets he had, but he was phenomenal when he got the opportunities. So I just want you guys to know — since you guys don’t give him the credit — I’m going to give him the credit. He is a beast.”
Kearse put up beastly numbers in Seattle’s 30-13 win over the Cleveland Browns, leading all receivers with seven catches on eight targets for 110 yards. That brought his totals to a career-high 43 catches for 613 yards. He has three touchdowns, one short of his career high from 2013.
And those numbers could have added meaning, as Kearse will become a free agent at the end of this season.
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He was asked if he agrees with Baldwin that his contributions are sometimes overlooked.
“I’m just waiting for my ops,” he said. “When they come, you make the most of them. That’s really what it is. That’s our mindset. We wait for our ops — our opportunities — and when they come we make the most of them.”
Once again Sunday, even Kearse’s career-high receiving yards seemed likely to be overlooked in favor of Baldwin’s two-touchdown performance. Those scores pushed Baldwin to 10 touchdown receptions over a four-game stretch, something done by only one other receiver: Hall of Famer Jerry Rice.
Still, Kearse is every bit the cheerleader for Baldwin that Baldwin is for Kearse.
“That’s the definition of balling right there,” Kearse said. “It’s really awesome … just to see him make the most of each opportunity. And that’s kind of like our whole room, being very opportunistic and just whenever we get an opportunity we try to be explosive with it and good things come out of it.”
Just as Baldwin was an undrafted free agent out of Stanford, Kearse was signed as an undrafted free agent out of Washington. He believes that fuels both of them.
“It’s just hard work,” Kearse said. “Hard work, dedication and commitment. Striving every day. It’s a daily battle. … Playing for one another. I think that’s one of the reasons we’re so successful — every guy is just literally leaving it all out there for the guy next to him.”
Kearse had three catches in his 2012 rookie season, 22 in 2013, 38 in 2014 and is already building on his career high with two games left in this regular season.
However, this season’s numbers have accumulated in fits and starts. Kearse has come up empty in four games, and he totaled just eight catches over a six-game stretch at midseason. But he had eight catches in the opener at St. Louis, and now has seven apiece in back-to-back wins over Baltimore and Cleveland.
“He’s always been good,” coach Pete Carroll said. “He’s always done a good job for us. You see that everybody benefits from the overall efficiency of this group. You can see it. It doesn’t matter who (quarterback Russell Wilson) is throwing to. (Rookie Tyler Lockett) is coming along, and Doug is coming through, and Jermaine had another huge game.”
Kearse agrees that each receiver benefits from the threat posed by the entire corps.
“Our whole group is very opportunistic,” he said. “It’s going to be very repetitive: We say that a lot. But that’s what it is. That’s the truth of how our receiver group comes into the game and how we practice. Whenever we have an opportunity, we try to be explosive and make big plays out of them. When we have that type of mentality, it allows us to just play free.”