Two games down, two to go.
The preseason is already halfway done for most teams, which means that a lot of players are going all out to get recognized as a competitor on their respective squad. In Seattle, one of those guys goes by the name of Jermaine Kearse.
With the devastating injury to Percy Harvin a month ago, the Seahawks needed a young player to step up and become a target for quarterback Russell Wilson — and the second-year pro has answered the call.
Kearse, originally an undrafted free agent from the University of Washington, has three catches for 43 yards in two preseason games this year. Two of those catches have gone for touchdowns — one from Brady Quinn in San Diego and one from Wilson against the Denver Broncos. On Saturday, Kearse added a 107-yard kickoff return for a touchdown to his preseason resume. It was his first kickoff return since high school.
“I definitely feel confident out there,” Kearse told the Seattle Times. “I worked hard this offseason, and I feel comfortable with the offense. I have less to worry about instead of worrying about things rookies worry about: the scheduling, how games are going. I got that one year under the belt, so I’m able to go out there and play fast and play freely. It’s a mentality, and when you play with that type of mentality, good things happen.”
A lot of good things have been happening for Kearse and the Seahawks thus far in 2013. Through two preseason games, Seattle has steamrolled their opponents by outscoring them 71-20. At this point, almost all of their offense has come from their passing game.
The quarterbacks — Wilson, Quinn and Tarvaris Jackson — have an average QB rating of 123.6 through two games, and they have combined to throw for six touchdowns and 443 yards.
The Seahawks have seen 14 different players make at least one catch. Stephen Williams leads the bunch with four catches and 128 yards. He also has two touchdowns. But it is Kearse who is making an immediate impact and it is also Kearse who is expected to take on the role of a fourth receiver in the depth chart — directly behind Sidney Rice, Golden Tate and Doug Baldwin.
“He’s a vital part of what we’re doing now,” head coach Pete Carroll told the Seattle Times.
Though he didn’t make much of a statement last year as a rookie, Kearse was more than productive in his college years at the University of Washington. In a four-year career as a Husky, he made 180 receptions for 2,871 yards and 29 touchdowns.
When the draft came in 2012, every team passed on him. At this point, it doesn’t seem to have phased him. He has remained humble, thanking and praising his blockers for his kickoff return on Saturday. A local youth football team recently asked him to re-tweet them in honor of their first game of the season, and he did.
Now, fully motivated and driven to succeed, he has the opportunity to become a valuable part of an already explosive offense. It’s too bad he was undrafted with the talent that he has, but he has found a home not far from home — in Seattle.