Seahawks’ Tyler Lockett keeping primary focus on kick returns

Aug 11, 2016, 9:55 AM | Updated: 9:56 am
Seahawks wide receiver T(AP)...
Seahawks wide receiver T(AP)
LISTEN: Seahawks WR Tyler Lockett on increased expectations

The expectations are high for Tyler Lockett to have an even bigger breakout on offense in his second season. But the 23-year-old wide receiver told “Bob, Groz and Tom” that he’s primarily focused on improving his special teams production.

“They drafted me to be able to be a returner, so that’s the No. 1 thing I want to focus on,” Lockett said. “However they want to use me on offense, I’m here. I’m gonna do whatever it is that they want me to do. Whether it’s get down in the box to be able to block, whether it’s to try to go cut somebody, to return, to catch a pass, whatever it is, I’m willing to go out there and to be able to do it.”

Doug Baldwin: Tyler Lockett is ‘taking his craft to the next level’

The Seahawks would be thrilled if Lockett managed to improve on a rookie season in which he made the Pro Bowl and earned first-team All-Pro honors as a returner. Lockett was third in the league in both kickoff and punt return yards (852 and 379, respectively) and scored twice, including a team record 105-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. He also produced as a receiver, hauling in 51 catches for 664 yards and six touchdowns. Coach Pete Carroll has said that Lockett is in “the middle of all our planning and all of our preparation,” with plans to line him up all over the field.

Accustomed to the high expectations that came with being the son and nephew of professional football players, Lockett said the only pressure he feels comes from within. On offense, he’s focusing most on his releases off the line of scrimmage.

“I did a decent job with my release, but I wasn’t able to play the way I was capable of playing,” he said. “So a lot of people have these expectations of me but I haven’t seen me play my best game yet. I’ve seen little glimpses … against certain teams. That was what I was able to see when I played free. So I’m continuing to learn how to be able to find my best game each and every day, not only in a game but also in practice.”

Lockett said his game has grown and developed beyond receptions. He sticks by the motto that there’s “No job too little, no job too great,” and focuses on “making the best out of the little opportunities.”

Lockett feels “a lot different” from this time last year, most specifically with improvements to his body. He said playing against All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman in practice has helped improve his skills, while the chip-on-the-shoulder mentality of teammates Doug Baldwin and Earl Thomas has also appeared to rub off.

Clayton: NFL’s kickoff concerns could be bad news for Lockett, Seahawks

“When I was at Kansas State, I proved the people wrong back home who doubted me. When I was in the NFL, I proved the people wrong in K-State who doubted me,” he said. “Now that I have the critics and everybody on my side, that’s not enough for me. Now it’s, ‘No, you weren’t with me so now you want to get with me. But no, I’m going to still keep on going, I’m going to still keep proving you wrong.’”

Lockett added that while most rookies have trouble adapting to the speed of the pro game, that hasn’t been a problem for him.

“After I scored that first time I realized, OK, the game is only fast within like 20-30 yards, but once it opens up to 40 to 100, everybody’s not as fast as you,” he said. “And you got people who ran 4.2’s, 4.3’s who are five, six, eight years in the league now, and they don’t run the same. For me, I was starting to realize that it’s no different than college. The people hit harder but I could go Isaac Bruce or Torry Holt on them and just fall. I could learn how to take care of my body. I don’t have to take every single hit.”

The knocks on Lockett coming out of college were his hands and size. Lockett proved his toughness after taking multiple wallops last season and bouncing right back up.

“To me, size doesn’t matter,” he said. “Size doesn’t stop half the people who play this game, anyway. All it is is, I call them critics, who that’s their job to be able to find things about you and be able to knock you off on some things. But the way I look at it is I’ve got to be able to silence the critics. I’ve been doing it my whole life.”

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