Rarely does a need meet a solution seemingly as easily as kickoff returns for the Seattle Seahawks and Tyler Lockett.
It’s only the NFL preseason, but Lockett has pumped life into a stagnant part of the Seahawks’ game. Last year, Seattle ranked 30th in average kickoff returns. In the preseason opener against Denver, Lockett returned kicks for 103 and 46 yards. They would have been the first- and third-longest returns by Seattle last season.
He added an 18-yard punt return, giving hope to a team that ranked 25th in punt returns and were No. 2 for the highest number of fair catches in the NFL.
Lockett was mostly quiet in Friday’s game against the Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium but he was thrilled to be playing so close to his alma mater, Kansas State and his hometown of Tulsa, Okla.
“It was a great feeling,” Lockett said. “I had a lot friends and family come and watch me. I had a great time out there.”
Lockett took the game’s opening kickoff and returned it 19 yards. He later returned a punt for 14 yards and, lining up at wide receiver, made a nice reception from quarterback Russell Wilson for 9 yards on third and 7.
After halftime, he had a 25-yard reception to help set up a Seahawks’ third-quarter field goal.
Most of those attending Friday’s Chiefs-Seahawks game know all about Lockett. He wrapped up a record-setting career at Kansas State last season, finishing as the school’s career leader in receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns — topping his father, Kevin, in those categories — and kickoff return yards.
Kevin Lockett, a former Chiefs wide receiver, was on hand and took part in pregame ceremonies, wearing his old No. 81 red jersey.
Tyler was the latest in a line of Locketts who excelled at Kansas State. Uncle Aaron once led the nation in punt returns and spent two seasons in the Canadian Football League.
Tyler Lockett may have been the best of the bunch as a college player. He caught three touchdown passes in a bowl victory over Michigan and amassed 440 total yards in a game against Oklahoma, the fifth-most in FBS history.
The Seahawks were desperate to land a top return specialist. When the third round of the NFL Draft arrived, Seattle, which held the 95th overall pick, traded its third-, fourth-, fifth- and sixth-round picks to Washington for its third-round pick at No. 69.
Lockett has been working with the first team as the Seahawks’ third wide receiver, and now he has a familiar teammate. Earlier this week, the Seahawks signed Jake Waters, Kansas State’s quarterback for the past two seasons. Reserve quarterback Tarvaris Jackson sprained his ankle against the Broncos.
Waters was with the Jacksonville Jaguars as an undrafted free agent in May and was released in June.
Waters had surgery on his right (throwing) elbow after Kansas State’s bowl game and said earlier this week that he’s 100 percent.
Jackson could be back in a couple of weeks, and Waters is expected to battle R.J. Archer for the third spot.
“When I got the call to come to Seattle, I was excited,” Waters said. “They’re one of the best teams in the league. To get that chance, any chance is great.”