Since the middle of last season, Seattle Seahawks players and staff have raved about wide receiver Jermaine Kearse.
Back then, the talk was mostly about potential and personality. Hard worker, a great guy in the locker room, his teammates said.
He made for a feel-good story, too, being a University of Washington and Lakes High product who landed with the team as an undrafted free agent.
Forget all that now; Kearse is proving himself to be a big-time playmaker, a legitimate NFL receiver and a dangerous special-teams player.
He scored two touchdowns in the first quarter of Saturday’s exhibition 40-10 victory over the Denver Broncos.
Those scores were in addition to his touchdown catch in the preseason-opening win in San Diego last week.
Kearse scored on a 12-yard pass from quarterback Russell Wilson on the first drive, and then returned a kickoff 107 yards for another score.
That Kearse would consider bringing the kickoff out from seven yards deep, and then zoom so confidently through the coursing Broncos, was but one of the examples of outrageous competitive audacity that make the Seahawks so entertaining – even in August.
The memo that exhibition games are meaningless apparently has never arrived in the Seahawks locker room.
And so we see cornerback Brandon Browner pick up a Denver fumble in his own end zone and, at a time when just staying down for a touchback is the prudent move, he rolls, rises, and sprints 106 yards the other way for another first-half touchdown.
Kearse left UW as second in school history in receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns. He sprinkled in the occasional drop among the notable big plays, and although he had the size (6-1, 209) and speed (4.43 40-yard dash), he went undrafted.