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Spotlight: Seahawks TE Nick Vannett wants to show he can be ‘3-down guy’

Seahawks TE Nick Vannett has a big opportunity with Jimmy Graham and Luke Willson gone. (AP)

Nick Vannett has a chance this year.

That much we know. And having an opportunity is going to be an improvement for Vannett over the past two years when he was third on Seattle’s depth chart at tight end behind Jimmy Graham and Luke Willson.

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When those two signed elsewhere in free agency, Vannett knew he had a clear path to the field.

“I realized what kind of year it was going to be for me. I knew that I had to prove myself,” Vannett said after practice during the Player Spotlight on “Danny, Dave and Moore” (listen here). “The last two years I kind of lived in Jimmy and Luke’s shadow a little bit. They kind of really just featured me as the blocking guy to come in whenever we did two, three tight-end sets. But this year, I really wanted to show them that I can be a three-down guy. Leave me in there, I can block on a run play. I can go out, make a good catch and run a good route. I just want to show them they don’t have to take me off the field.”

This is the part where the writer (me) usually provides the reader (you) with some sort of testimonial that the player in question is poised to take advantage of the opportunity. Most often this is done by way of a comment from the coach, and Pete Carroll is more than happy to provide that.

“He’s a really good catcher,” Carroll said. “He knows the system the best of any of our guys, he’s real versatile, and he’s a good competitive kid for us.”

That sounds good and everything, but this is the time of year that you’d be advised to take everything that Seattle’s coach says with a pinch of salt. He’s certainly not lying, but he isn’t necessarily telling the whole truth, either.

We know that Vannett is going to get chances, especially with Ed Dickson unable to practice so far this month because of a leg injury. What Vannett does with that opportunity, though, is entirely up to him, a fact that Vannett is entirely aware of.

“I knew this was going to be my year to step up and be the guy,” he said. “I wanted to do all of the little things I could, make sure I’m as healthy as I can. I didn’t want anything to pull me back from not being the guy.”

And in the bigger picture, Vannett’s opportunity is emblematic of the newfound chances for playing time all over the field.

Vannett was a third-round pick, a relatively high draft choice, whose path to the field was blocked in some ways by the fact that he arrived to a team already stocked with capable veterans at his position. Safety Delano Hill faced a similar situation last year. So did Tedric Thompson.

Well, now the veterans that were in front of those guys are gone, clearing a lane for players like Vannett and Thompson to show what they can do.

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