With 6-foot-4 receiver Sidney Rice on one side and 6-foot-5 Mike Williams on the other, second-year Seattle Seahawks receiver Golden Tate figured out pretty quickly that he needed to find a specific role for himself.
“I understand what’s going on,” Tate said. “I understand we’ve got two big, big targets with great hands on the outside. But I don’t think you have too many 6-4 slots, so I’m trying to make that my spot.
“Whenever you’ve got third-and-short or third-and-long, you can put Golden in the slot and let him do something and make a play. So, hopefully, I’m trying to get that trust with the organization and see how it goes.”
Tate’s maturation as a receiver was hampered by the lockout. Most NFL observers think that receivers experience the most growth and development between their first and second years in the league.
However, Tate was not able to reap the benefits of offseason workouts with Seattle coaches at the team’s facility because of the lockout. For the past four months, he stayed mostly in his hometown of Nashville, Tenn., working out with members of the Tennessee Titans.
“That’s been very frustrating because I’ve heard … that’s when it kind of clicks, and you really kind of get the game,” Tate said about the offseason work. “So that would have been a great time for me to learn the offense and also learn some little things in the game. So it’s been frustrating. … But I’ve got to do what I’ve got to do.”
Tate did have the benefit of working with veteran receiver Brandon Stokley last season, considered one of the better slot receivers in the game. After practice, Tate regularly worked with Stokley on route running, footwork and getting in and out of breaks quickly.
“The biggest thing is learning this slot,” Tate said. “So I’m trying to focus on learning the ins and outs of it. I’ve been watching (Minnesota’s) Percy Harvin on film and Brandon Stokley, and trying to figure out what they do. I actually talked to Stokley a couple times, getting some little pointers. So I’m learning. (I’ve) got a long way to go, but hopefully the coaches are finding confidence in me and that they can trust me.”
As a rookie, Tate finished with 21 receptions for 227 yards in 2010, and also returned a punt for 63 yards in an early-season game against Denver. But Seattle’s second-round draft pick out of Notre Dame was expected to make more of an impact.
Coach Pete Carroll has said he expects Tate to have a breakthrough year in his second season.
“I’ve got a better grasp of the game as a whole,” Tate said. “I need to focus on my route running because that was something that kept me off the field and being dependable. I mean I know I’m an athlete, and so does everyone else. So I think if I can get down the fundamentals of the game, then I can be successful and make an impact on the team this year.”