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Great expectations for Seahawks’ Golden Tate

Bill Swartz

When the Seahawks drafted Golden Tate in the second round in 2010, many fans and media expected great things from the Notre Dame receiver. Now entering his third year, we’re still waiting to see Tate live up to those lofty expectations.

“Eighty-one and I have been through a lot together,” he said. “We were inactive together and we’ve been through doughnut shops. I plan on playing here a long time and wearing number 81, hopefully.”

His NFL career started with an embarrassing doughnut theft caper. Tate mentioned it two weeks ago while explaining why he wouldn’t give up his jersey number to Terrell Owens.

Golden Tate had a 14-yard catch and returned a punt 92 yards for a touchdown against Kansas City last week. (AP)

At 5-10, Tate compensates for his lack of height with great leaping ability. He’s made big plays during training camp, and last weekend returned a punt for a touchdown against Kansas City.

The Seahawks have primarily used Tate as a wide receiver, often throwing fade routes for him so he can try and out-jump defenders. His body type is more suited for the slot position, but Doug Baldwin took hold of that job last season.

Seattle brought in taller, veteran receivers Braylon Edwards and Terrell Owens for training camp. Flanker Sidney Rice is once again healthy, and Ben Obomanu is a trustworthy option as well as special teams mainstay.

When Owens was released last Sunday, I asked Tate whether that was a vote of confidence in him.

“I can’t control who they bring in here to compete,” he said. “I can only control what I do out here every day. I need to make the plays I’m supposed to make, and make some people probably don’t think I can make. I see myself as a playmaker.”

When we used to ask quarterback Matt Hasselbeck about Tate, he would speak highly of his ability to attack the football. Hasselbeck also talked about Tate’s raw, un-precise route-running. That weakness continues to occasionally surface in his third year in the NFL.

Purely judging his numbers, you could make the case Tate has been consistent. He’s averaged more than 10 yards per catch and led the team last year by catching 62 percent of the passes thrown his way.

Coming into the final preseason game Thursday night against the visiting Raiders, Tate needs to show he’s one of the best five or six receivers on the squad. With the Seahawks’ ability to find creative ways to use unique talent, Tate could be an interesting offensive weapon in 2012.