News was better for the Seahawks Friday. WR Tyler Lockett was cleared to return to practice eight months after gruesome broken leg appeared to threaten his career.
Nearing the end of a dubious first week of training camp, the haze over the Seahawks lifted a bit Friday with the first practice appearance of irrepressible WR Tyler Lockett, the football amalgam of Pharrell Williams, roller coasters, banjo music and Corgi puppies. Smile avoidance is impossible.
“I’m like the little kid on the team,” he said, offering self-awareness that was as surprising as it was refreshing. “I make everyone happy. I bring out the kid in everybody. If I see somebody else down, I do whatever I can to bring them up.
“So, to see me down, nobody really knows how that feels. I’m always the happy one, jumping around getting on people’s nerves all the time.”
Enthusiastic, energetic and faster than customers at an ice cream truck in North Korea, Lockett has a kind of youthful magnetism that draws in people. Whatever team he’s on, that’s the team that everyone wants to join.
How that transforms into wins is not clear, but the Seahawks do not want to be long without it.
Lockett returned after an eight-month recovery from a leg broken Christmas Eve, just as he was re-launching his season following a seven-catch, 130-yard game Dec. 15 against the Los Angeles Rams that included his only touchdown reception of 2016.
Fans may have forgotten those contributions because they and the 24-3 win were overshadowed by coverage of CB Richard Sherman’s sideline rant against the coaching staff.
Also, Lockett’s broken tibia and fibula Dec. 24 became secondary to the 34-31 loss to the Arizona Cardinals in the regular-season-ender, which signaled the Seahawks’ defensive vulnerability heading into the playoffs.
And of course, the gruesome injury, when CB Brandon Williams fell on Lockett’s right leg after a reception at the one-yard line, Grinched his Christmas.
“I don’t remember Christmas,” he said of his time in the hospital. “I probably opened one present, can’t remember what it was. I was half-way asleep off of those (Oxycontin painkillers). I was in the bed on New Year’s asleep the whole day too. ”
He does remember watching the Seahawks beat the Detroit Lions in the playoff opener, then getting clobbered in Atlanta by the eventual NFC champion Falcons.
“I mean, I knew every single play that was about to be ran,” he said. “I was sitting there like, ‘Man, run this route! Do this! Do that!’ Obviously it was hard, sitting there having to be a fan and watch the game.
“It sucks not to be out there whenever you feel like you could help contribute to the team. You got to sit there and let it happen and just take it all in.”
The severity of the breaks caused initial speculation that it might be career-damaging. That verdict is still out, but he’s able to run now without restrictions.
“As they let me go today, I didn’t know to do,” he said. “When I was a kid, I had a dog. When you train it, you got to keep him in a little cage. I felt like I was stuck in a cage for eight months. So as soon I was just running around, having fun and being a little kid again.”
Offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell indicated Lockett’s rapid return was a bit surprising.
“I remember going to visit him in the hospital,” he said. “He was really positive. He just knew that he was going to get back and what he was going to do to attack the rehab.
“To see him be able to come back the way that he has, and to see him back out here at training camp is a special thing.”
Lockett finished with 41 catches for 597 yards, a 14.6 average, all down a bit from his rookie year. But he also was slowed by a leg injury in September. His reduced role during the season, abetted by QB Russell Wilson’s injuries, added another layer of complication to a stuttering offense that was without RB Marshawn Lynch for the first time in six years.
If he makes it onto Lambeau Field for the opener Sept. 10 in Green Bay, he already will have a victory.
“I was in a wheelchair at times, I had to learn how to walk again and be on crutches,” he said. “But I got to have a lot of memories with my family.
“Honestly, if it could happen again, I’d probably let it happen. I wouldn’t take back what happened. I really learned a lot about life.”
An admirable sentiment, Tyler. But no. There’s many more reasonable ways to learn lessons that don’t involve Christmas morning in a hospital on painkillers.
No practice for Frank Clark
DE Frank Clark stepped onto the VMAC practice field briefly Friday morning, then retreated to the locker room. He had been suspended for throwing a sucker punch Thursday that knocked a helmetless RT Germain Ifedi to the ground.
“It’s a disciplinary action,” said defensive coordinator Kris Richard. “You earn the right to be out here on the field with us and you earn the right to come out here and compete. Any decisions that are going to be detrimental to us – we certainly have to handle this internally.”
Ifedi was also held out of practice, but he was in uniform and watching along the sidelines. There was no mention of any suspension, so the presumption was it was health-related.
Second-round draft choice Ethan Pocic of LSU was in at right tackle for most of the practice.