Seahawks receiver and former Monroe star Ricardo Lockette catches a pass Nov. 3 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Lockette joined Seattle’s practice squad in late October and then quickly earned a spot on the team’s 52-man roster. (Reuters)
SEATTLE — On a day when families across the country sit around their Thanksgiving feasts and share what they are most thankful for, forgive Ricardo Lockette if he takes some time counting his blessings.
The Monroe grad has plenty to be thankful for these days.
Lockette had bounced around from one NFL practice squad to another in the past two years before landing back in Seattle — the place he started his NFL career in 2011 — on Oct. 22, and in the last month the speedy 27-year-old has risen from a practice-squad receiver to a member of the 52-man roster and finally to No. 3 on the depth chart at WR for the 10-1 Seahawks.
It’s been a month to cherish for Lockette, who talked about his journey with The Herald in a phone interview before practice Tuesday.
“It’s a dream come true,” Lockette said. “I am living it every day, every hour, every minute. I am trying to make the best out of my opportunities.”
Lockette spent the end of the 2012 season on the San Francisco 49ers practice squad and was being heavily considered for a spot on the roster for 2013 after developing a friendship with 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and even buying a house in San Francisco with the QB.
Lockette, however, was waived from the 49ers in August and picked up a week later by Chicago, where he stayed on the practice squad until being released Oct. 21 and picked up a day later by Seattle.
Somehow, he always knew he would be back in a Seahawks uniform.
“I love Seattle,” said Lockette, who was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Seahawks in 2011 and finished his rookie season with two catches for 105 yards and a TD in two games. “Seattle is my second home. It’s where I originally started my career, and hopefully it’s where I finish.”
He’s already making an impression on Seahawks coach Pete Carroll, who also had glowing things to say about Lockette back in 2011.
“(He’s a) great, high-potential guy with great range and great speed,” Carroll said of Lockette earlier this month.
Eight days after joining the Seahawks practice squad, Lockette was bumped up to the team’s 52-man roster when receiver Sidney Rice went down with a season-ending ACL injury, and even with the recent return of Percy Harvin to the team’s active roster following a preseason hip injury, Lockette has remained in the Seahawks’ rotation.
In Seattle’s last game Nov. 17 against Minnesota, Lockette was on the field for 15 snaps or 29 percent of the plays — the fourth-most among receivers on the team. In his three games this season with Seattle, he has caught two passes for 32 yards but has been targeted each game by QB Russell Wilson.
Lockette, who will suit up Monday night in a nationally-televised game against the New Orleans Saints as the No. 3 receiver on the Seahawks’ depth chart, said he’s not concerned about losing playing time because of the improving health of Harvin, who is listed as day-to-day on the team’s injury report.
“I am just playing football,” he said. “Through the years you learn that it’s a business. It’s not about being comfortable somewhere. It’s about making the best of your opportunities. I don’t think I’m ever going to be comfortable until I am in my house after my career is over and I’m relaxing with my feet up.”
He took the same approach in Chicago, where he went virtually unnoticed on the practice squad.
“On every team you do whatever you can to make the team better,” Lockette said. “I really wasn’t looking forward to any certain role coming in (to Chicago). I was just working. I was just focused on myself getting better every day.
“I’ve learned a lot from all the places I have been. I think it’s made me the player I am today. I’ve picked up different things from the 49ers and Bears, and there’s everything I’ve learned from the Seahawks. You just put all of that together, and it makes you who you are as a player.”
And Lockette has turned into the type of player who has a knack for drawing rave reviews from coaches, including 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh who said earlier this year that there was “something special” about the receiver.
“There’s just something about (Lockette) that I’m really fired up about,” Harbaugh told reporters in March. “He’s got something else to him, too, besides just the analytical size, strength, speed. There’s something special there. I just feel it.”
Lockette is starting to feel it, too — and he believes his time of paying dues on practice squads around the NFL could be over.
“I think I have matured enough to where I can contribute to a win and contribute enough to be on the field on Sundays instead of just preparing another guy for the games (while on the practice squad),” he said. “I think I’ve climbed that ladder and am looking forward to this game against the Saints this weekend.”
The Saints and Seahawks are battling for the best record in the NFC, but Lockette is fully aware of who is up next on Seattle’s schedule — his old friends the 49ers on Dec. 8 in San Francisco.
And few know the rivalry better than Lockette, who has been on both sides of the battle.
“It’s the ultimate Monroe-Dougherty type of game,” he said. “It’s the crème de la crème (of rivalries). I can’t wait.”