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Feeling 'Powerful,' Dee Eskridge Is Working Towards Strong Year Two With Seahawks

After having his rookie season derailed by injuries, Seahawks receiver Dee Eskridge is healthy and already leaving an impression during voluntary OTAs.

RENTON, WA — Voluntary organized team activities have begun for the Seahawks and receiver Dee Eskridge was an active participant on day one. Last year, the recent second-round draft pick was unable to finish this portion of Seattle's offseason program fully healthy after suffering a foot injury. 

Staying off the injured list in general was a struggle for Eskridge during his rookie season. In the closing minutes of the Seahawks' Week 1 victory over the Colts, the Western Michigan alum sustained a uniquely severe concussion after cutting upfield on a sweep play and was forced to miss the next seven games.

The injury took such a toll on Eskridge that he was sent to a vision specialist down in Florida to help him with his symptoms. And when he finally returned to the gridiron in Week 10, Seattle deployed him sparsely and instead utilized Freddie Swain as its primary No. 3 receiver behind DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett for the rest of the year. 

“I would just say that I was just getting more comfortable at the end," Eskridge reflected following the first day of OTAs. "Obviously, I was more healthy than I was in the beginning of the season, so I was able to do it a little bit more. I would just say getting more comfortable in the way that the Seahawks wanted to play me and just getting better.”

Naturally, the key for Eskridge this season is to stay on the field. As the saying goes: the best ability is availability, and the second-year wideout is doing what he can to ensure he'll always be ready to go whenever his number is called. This includes limiting his workload during the offseason and not straining his 5-foot-9, 190-pound frame.

“Yeah, I definitely lightened it up some just because I'm an explosive powerful type of athlete," Eskridge noted. "So when I work, that's a lot of tax, so I took a lot of that tax out and just stayed in shape at this point.”

Eskridge went on to express that he feels "fast" and "powerful" right now, which certainly looked to be the case on Monday. His biggest highlight of the day came during 7-on-7 drills when he high-pointed a deep ball from quarterback Geno Smith and kept both of his feet inbounds to complete the catch. 

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The Seahawks are hoping those kinds of plays will carry over into gamedays this fall. Not only would Eskridge's potential contributions take some of the load off Lockett and Metcalf, but it would also afford Smith, Drew Lock or whoever replaces Russell Wilson under center another reliable and productive target to lean on. 

While the absence of Wilson, who was dealt to the Broncos in a blockbuster trade back in March, was perhaps the biggest takeaway from the start of OTAs, Eskridge says he doesn't notice much of a difference without No. 3 roaming the halls of the Virginia Mason Athletic Center. 

“That's a great dude," Eskridge prefaced. "Obviously, he impacted a lot of people, but I would really say, the guys in this building, we're all just grouping around each other. I feel like it's really just the same amount of things really.”

That said, moving on from one of the league's top quarterbacks is sure to be a drastic transition for Eskridge and his fellow receivers—especially when the two frontrunners to become Wilson's successor, Lock and Smith, have exhibited noticeable limitations as passers in previous years. As a result, the Seahawks appear likely to keep pass attempts at a minimum this season, meaning Eskridge's receiving numbers could come in fairly low even if he plays all 17 games. 

However, with well above-average speed and explosiveness, Eskridge has the tools necessary to find other ways to contribute if—and only if—he can stay healthy. His ability in the run game should continue to be an area of focus, and it's possible the Seahawks will send him out to return kicks and/or punts as well. 

Skill and health is only half the battle, though. The other is learning how to navigate life in the NFL, especially for someone who's made the giant leap from a smaller college program like Eskridge has. 

But so far, so good, he says. 

“I would say I'm very far along compared to where I started last year," Eskridge confidently stated. "More comfortable in the offense, more comfortable in the culture as a whole. So I feel good going into year two.”