By John Boyle Herald Writer
RENTON — Percy Harvin has been the Seahawks’ most talked about receiver in training camp. Golden Tate, as has been the case in years past, has been the most spectacular. And Sidney Rice, he of the quick jaunt to Switzerland for treatment on his knee, has been the most-traveled.
But quietly, while the outside world frets over Harvin’s hip and Rice’s knee, Jermaine Kearse, of all people, has arguably been the most consistent performer in his position group through the first two weeks of camp. Kearse, who went undrafted out of Washington last year, signed with the Seahawks and landed on Seattle’s practice squad before a midseason promotion, isn’t suddenly making people forget about Harvin, Rice, Tate and Doug Baldwin, but he is certainly making everyone feel better about the depth behind them.
“He’s in better shape than he has been, he’s looked good in practice, making a lot of plays,” receivers coach Kippy Brown said. “He shows up.”
Kearse, a Tacoma native, showed potential last season, but he has clearly taken his game to another level with a strong offseason and the confidence that comes with getting a shot in the NFL. During the offseason, Russell Wilson invited his receivers and tight ends to a workout session in Hermosa Beach, Calif. Kearse was one of the attendees, and he impressed Wilson there and has continued to do so in training camp.
“We went down to California together and Jermaine was one of those guys that stood out,” Wilson said. “He looked unbelievable down there and he’s looked unbelievable since we have been training here in Seattle. He’s just got great hands, he’s got great instincts. He’s got great hips in terms of moving and adjusting to the football. He’s got a lot of ability. I’m really excited to see where he goes this year. He can do it all.”
Kearse has shown a knack for making big plays going back to his days at Lakes High School and the UW, but the one thing that always seemed to hold him back was the occasional case of the drops. Brown said he’s seen less of that from Kearse this year, and Kearse hopes more experience and practice time, as well as offseason Lasik surgery, will help him continue to catch the ball more consistently in big moments, not just practice.
“Things are a lot clearer and I don’t have to worry about contact lenses moving around or getting blurry,” Kearse said of his Lasik surgery. “So it definitely helps.”
In addition to being able to see better, Kearse says the biggest change is simply being more confident and comfortable in the offense.
“Being comfortable with the offense enables me to play faster, so that’s a big thing,” he said.
Knowing the offense allows Kearse to play all three receiver positions, a big plus for any receiver battling for a roster spot and playing time.
“The more you can do the better, so I’ve learned the slot and the outside,” he said. “Wherever they need me to go, I’m able to do it.”
Kearse’s impressive camp, his versatility and Harvin’s injury, have helped propel him from roster hopeful to near lock to make the 53-man roster. Yet the reality is that unless more injuries happen, he’ll spend more time helping do the dirty work on special teams than he will catching passes from Wilson. Kearse earned his promotion to the 53-man roster last year not just because he was improving as a receiver and the Seahawks had a need, but also because Pete Carroll saw a player who could help on special teams, which is a big deal for a coach who puts a lot of emphasis on the “other” part of the game.
“We like him across the board,” Carroll said. “One of the great statements for him is that he’s one of our core special teams guys, and (special teams coach Brian) Schneider has raved about his work there. That tells you a lot about his first year. He’s on our kickoff team, and he’s one of the starters on the kickoff team as a wide receiver. He’s a tremendous asset.
“Now beyond that, he’s versatile, he’s very quick, his catching range is excellent. He can play all three spots, so he’s a vital part of what we’re doing, and it’s really all him. He’s busted his tail, and really come through. He’s a nice guy on our team.”
The Seahawks signed defensive tackle Martin Parker and waived tight end Michael Palmer. Parker, who went undrafted in 2011 out of Richmond, spent his rookie season with the New York Giants on injured reserve. Parker, who has not appeared in a regular-season game, was released by New York in February. Palmer signed with Seattle last month.
Herald Writer John Boyle: firstname.lastname@example.org.