RENTON — For a player whose game relies so much on quickness, Golden Tate’s transition to the NFL has gone much slower than just about anyone — Tate included — could have imagined when Seattle drafted him last year.
Seattle’s second-round pick in 2010, Tate wowed fans and coaches alike with his spectacular catches in training camp, but that big-play ability didn’t translate to playing time as he struggled to adjust to the intricacies of the game at its highest level.
By his own admission, Tate, who also played baseball at Notre Dame, got by in college more on raw athletic ability than precise route running or intense studying. In other words, succeeding in the NFL was a little more difficult than Tate thought it would be.
“Absolutely, I didn’t think it would be this tough,” he said. “But at this level, everyone is good. They’re good. To get that advantage, for a good player to go to a great player, it’s the little things.”
Over the course of this season, however, Tate has been putting in the work and doing those little things, and recently that has meant an increasing role in games and more chances to shine. Two weeks ago, he played more snaps than any Seahawks receiver and caught a touchdown pass in a loss to Washington.
In last week’s win over the Eagles, Tate made his first career start and finished with four catches for 47 yards. Another catch he made that game was ruled an eight-yard run because it was a backwards pass. Tate punctuated his best day as a professional with a spectacular leaping touchdown catch in the back of the end zone that was exactly the type of play he has made time and time again in practice.
“That was a fantastic throw and catch on the touchdown pass,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. “Great throw and a great catch and great body-control job of staying in bounds. It was a beautiful play. There are more of those in him. He’s got tons of those.”
Part of Tate’s growth this season has involved Carroll showing the talented youngster some tough love. And if a stern talking to is what it takes to get Tate to perform, neither he nor Carroll has a problem with that method.
“I’ve believed in his talent from the day he stepped on our field,” Carroll said. “… It took us a little longer to get him to emerge; he needed to take a few steps back to move forward. I love him and I have been hard on him, I’m always on his butt about something. However, he takes it okay, it doesn’t matter, but it’s because he’s really good and he’s going to be a really good player for us. I’m just trying to get (his talent) to come to the surface.”
And because of those tough lessons from Carroll and the hard work he has put in, Tate feels like he’s finally ready to live up to the promise he showed when he first arrived in Seattle.
“It’s starting to click for me, things are coming around,” he said. “I’ve been working very, very, very hard. The coaches have seen that. That’s probably why they’ve given me the opportunity to play. They see that I’ve been trying and busting my tail in practice. … I’ve definitely improved from training camp and the preseason to the point where I feel like the reason I’m in there more is because they trust me more to do certain things.”
Quarterback Tarvaris Jackson practiced fully for the second time this week, and has made big strides in recovering from the pectoral injury he suffered two months ago.
“He threw the ball really hard,” Carroll said of Jackson’s Tuesday practice. “The ball was just coming out with more velocity than we’ve seen since before his injury. The fact that he was able to do that throughout the workout and the next day lift and come back and not feel anything more — he felt fine the next day — is really a statement that he’s getting better and that he’s finally turned a corner and that he’s improving.”
Defensive end Raheem Brock (calf) and linebacker David Hawthorne (knee) did not practice Thursday. Cornerbacks Kennard Cox (hamstring) and Byron Maxwell (illness) were limited.
Herald Writer John Boyle: firstname.lastname@example.org. For more Seahawks coverage, check out the Seahawks blog at heraldnet.com/seahawksblog