RENTON, Wash. (AP) — Growing up Ricardo Lockette just wanted an opportunity to play in the NFL.
He never thought he’d win a Super Bowl. He never believed he’d catch the first touchdown of an NFL season for his team. He just hoped to be able to don a jersey once and take the field as a professional.
Now 28 years old, Lockette has a Super Bowl ring and has become a key member of the Seattle Seahawks.
“Words can’t describe that,” Lockette said. “It’s an opportunity to play on the best team in the NFL and be a contributor.”
Lockette hauled in a 33-yard touchdown pass from Russell Wilson to give the Seahawks a 10-7 lead in the second quarter of their 36-16 season opening win against the Green Bay Packers last week.
Once a raw product with enticing sprinter speed, Lockette has developed into a trusted receiver and key special teams player for the Seahawks.
“Amazing,” offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said. “He’s come so far from where he was. His understanding of the game and what we’re trying to do is huge from where he was. He’s not even the same guy. He’s a completely different player.”
Lockette flashed his potential as an undrafted free agent out of Division II Fort Valley State in 2011. The Seahawks kept him on the practice squad to start the year before he was elevated to the active roster late in the season.
He showed his big-play potential right away. Lockette caught a 44-yard pass in his first game against San Francisco and followed it up with a 61-yard touchdown catch against Arizona the following week.
Expectations were elevated during training camp the following year but the results didn’t follow. Lockette spiked his helmet off the turf in frustration one day in practice and was released off the practice squad that September. Lockette signed to the 49ers practice squad and spent the rest of 2012 there.
San Francisco cut Lockette from its practice squad the following September. He landed for a month with the Chicago Bears on their practice squad before being released and returning to Seattle in October 2013.
Three practice squads in three months never shook Lockette’s confidence. He knew he was improving and was eventually going to get his shot.
“If you’re in this locker room, it’s a blessing,” Lockette said. “I never ever felt like I was never going to play in the league or like it was almost over. I never felt like that. I know what I can do. I know what the coaches were telling me. A lot of stuff happens and sometimes it has nothing to do with you. It just happens. It’s the way life goes and you have to roll with the punches.”
Lockette again was signed to Seattle’s active roster and began to turn heads on special teams. His blazing speed has proved to be key in covering kicks. He’s also shown an ability to lay crunching hits on opponents.
“He’s come a million miles,” head coach Pete Carroll said. “He is a big factor.”
Lockette firmly made the roster out of training camp this season at a position stocked with talent in Seattle. After a strong preseason, he caught two passes for 38 yards and a touchdown against Green Bay, the first multi-catch game of his career.
Lockette still isn’t satisfied
“It was something that just kind of happened over time and I’m still developing right now. It wasn’t just like a eureka moment,” Lockette said. “I’m doing better. I’m not at my best but it’s going to continue to get better.”
Notes: RB Christine Michael (hamstring), LB Kevin Pierre-Louis (hamstring) and CB Tharold Simon (knee) did not participate for the Seahawks again on Thursday. … TE Cooper Helfet was limited with a knee injury.
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