RENTON, Wash. (AP) Replacing Tyler Lockett isn't simple.
The second-year wide receiver for the Seattle Seahawks is more than just a pass catcher. He's the primary kickoff and punt returner for the Seahawks as well, which was the primary reason Seattle took him in the third round of the 2015 draft. Lockett's become so versatile he even owns the Seahawks longest touchdown run of the season on a 75-yarder a few weeks ago against Carolina.
So when Lockett went down with a gruesome broken right leg last week against Arizona there was more than just Seattle's No. 2 wide receiver that was lost. And it's why the Seahawks will be counting on a handful of options to try and make up for Lockett's absence.
''We definitely lose his versatility in terms of speed and quickness,'' teammate Doug Baldwin said. ''Hopefully Paul (Richardson) can kind of fill that role, fill those shoes, because he is extremely explosive as well. But Tyler was also extremely elusive when he got the ball in his hands. There are very few people in the NFL who can move like he does when he gets the ball in his hands. We'll definitely miss that.''
When Lockett went down in the second quarter last week, Seattle lost its most versatile offensive player and one that was seeing more opportunity as he finally got healthy after an early-season knee injury. Two games ago, Lockett had a career-high 130 yards receiving and a touchdown in a victory over Los Angeles.
Part of that growth was opportunity. Lockett had taken over as Seattle's No. 2 wide receiver after Jermaine Kearse was demoted as part of a disappointing season. Kearse will likely move back into that role opposite Baldwin. Rookie Tanner McEvoy and Kasen Williams - promoted from the practice squad this week - will also get chances in Seattle's wide receiver rotation.
But the player Seattle needs to show up most is Richardson, just as he did last week with four receptions for 42 yards and a touchdown after Lockett was hurt.
''He really jumped at the opportunities, which is so often our case that we see our guys do that,'' Seattle coach Pete Carroll said. ''When you give them a shot they come through and they do something, and I thought Paul really responded beautifully for us.''
What Richardson lacks in experience, despite being in his third season, he can make up for in pure speed. Even more than Lockett, Richardson may be Seattle's fastest wide receiver and the one best equipped for stretching the field in the same way Seattle has tried to do with Lockett.
The trade-off is Richardson has underachieved during his time in Seattle, largely due to injuries. There have been flashes of promise, but those have seemingly been followed by major setbacks. Richardson had 15 catches in the final four games of the 2014 season before suffering a major knee injury in the playoffs.
After returning from the knee injury at midseason, Richardson had one catch all of 2015, suffering a hamstring injury on a 40-yard reception that ended his year early. Finally healthy, Richardson has struggled to get regular snaps this season. Before last week, Richardson had 13 receptions and just 24 targets all season.
The other area Seattle will be counting on Richardson is on kick returns. Richardson held the role at times during the 2014 season and again last week after Lockett went out. It's unclear who will handle punt returns.
''I'm comfortable back there. You just have to run fast and be confident and trust your guys are going to make their blocks,'' Richardson said.
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