Impatience burned wide receiver Golden Tate last week.
That’s not a figure of speech, either, because he grabbed a Hot Pocket pizza roll fresh out of the microwave, bit into the sucker and piping hot filling squirted onto his hand.
Patience is something Tate has to learn, something that’s as true for his day job as it is for his late-night snacks. Waiting is very hard for him.
“I’ve always been a very, very anxious person,” he said. “That’s kind of what I’m trying to break myself out of, being anxious, being very impatient even when it comes to the routes.”
And his wait for an impact moment ended Saturday in Minnesota when Tate caught a 41-yard pass midway through the fourth quarter. It was Tate’s fifth catch in an exhibition game, but the first one for more than 8 yards.
“It felt real good to get that,” Tate said after the team’s light workout Monday. “It’s something that they know I’m capable of doing. It has just been a matter of time for me to do that.”
It’s just that it took more time than anyone really expected considering how much Tate stood out during the Seahawks’ offseason workouts.
Seattle evaluated Tate as a first-round talent in its evaluations, and he was the only player the Seahawks had rated that highly still available when Seattle’s turn came up in the second round.
The rookie from Notre Dame may be only 5 feet 10, but he was aggressive in the air and strong on the ground, a receiver who played more like a running back when he got the ball in his hands.
Here was a player capable of making big plays whether as a receiver or a returner. He was the home-run threat added to an offense that had only seven offensive plays gain more than 40 yards last season. Not only that, but four of those plays were to running backs and one was a fake punt.
Tate’s performance during offseason workouts showed that he might be the kind of dynamic threat this team had been missing. Seattle’s exhibition games seemed ripe to be a showcase for just what he could do.
But in the first exhibition game, he caught two passes for 5 yards and dropped another ball. In the second exhibition game, Tate didn’t play receiver until the second half and finished with one catch for 8 yards.
Turns out the learning curve for NFL rookies can be steep even when they’re as athletically gifted as Tate.
“He’s shown a lot of ability and in some things he’s just been really, really amazing,” Matt Hasselbeck said of Tate after the second exhibition game. “And in other things he’s a rookie … I remember when I was a rookie. It’s very difficult.”
Hasselbeck entered the league in 1998 as a sixth-round draft choice, competing to be the Packers’ No. 3 quarterback. He thought he played well through the minicamps and in training camp. Then came the first exhibition game, which Green Bay played in Tokyo.
“They might as well have been calling the plays in Japanese,” Hasselbeck said. “It was like I lost my mind.”
Tate isn’t a quarterback so it isn’t quite so overwhelming. More like a matter of working on the precision of his routes.
“He has play-making ability, but that’s not enough in this league,” said Kippy Brown, Seattle’s wide receivers coach. “You have to be disciplined. You have to be where you’re supposed to be when you’re supposed to be there. You have to run routes at the correct depth, and for the most part he’s doing a good job of that, but consistency is something that we keep working on.”
Consistency and patience because while people have wondered what’s taking so long to get Tate involved, Brown said his rookie is proceeding nicely.
“He’s getting there,” Brown said. “I’m really pleased with his progress. We’re right on schedule.”