Corbin Smith

Seahawks' Bates Impressing Carroll, Wilson

Created on Jul. 31, 2014 6:19 PM EST

Coming into training camp, the Seattle Seahawks seemed to be set at wide receiver. The retirement of Sidney Rice last week made it appear as if there would be little drama at the position barring injury, with veterans Percy Harvin, Doug Baldwin, and Jermaine Kearse locks to make the final roster and rookies Paul Richardson and Kevin Norwood showing great promise.

With a week of camp now in the books, however, a few unsung heroes have crashed the receiving party and will make preseason games far more compelling at the position. None have made a greater impression in the early stages of the 2014 season than unheralded receiver Phil Bates, who received votes of confidence from both head coach Pete Carroll and star quarterback Russell Wilson this afternoon.

'He's really been productive, he's been active, he's made a bunch of big plays," Carroll said in a press conference following Thursday's practice, adding, "This is a culmination of a couple years to get to this point."

Bates, who played quarterback prior to joining the Seahawks as a free agent out of Ohio in 2012, has had to work tirelessly to adjust to a new position at the professional level. Entering his third season, he's used two seasons as a practice squad player to develop as a route runner and acclimate himself to life as a wide receiver. He's quickly made his presence known during drill work and scrimmages, and Wilson has taken notice.

"He's looked tremendous. He's done such a good job all offseason," Wilson stated, predicting that Bates would break out much the same way Kearse did a year ago.

Wilson has always been willing to praise his receivers, but comparing Bates' emergence to Kearse's situation entering last season sends a message that he expects him to have a strong impact this year. Like Kearse, Bates entered the league undrafted and faced a difficult road trying to make an NFL roster, especially one loaded with talent like the Seahawks currently have. Converting from quarterback made his development even tougher and pushed him to the brink of being out of the league. But his strong work ethic coupled with "big hands" and deceptive speed have positioned him for an opportunity to break through this time around.

"He's dedicated to his craft, and he's learned a lot from Baldwin, Kearse, Harvin." Wilson added with a smile, "He tries to take a lot of things from everybody else and add it to his game."

It won't be easy for Bates to survive roster cuts with so much talent around him, especially considering the special teams value that Ricardo Lockette and Bryan Walters offer the Seahawks. But with Rice retiring and Norwood battling a nagging foot injury that has limited him to only two training camp practices so far,  the door has been opened for the former Bobcat to make a splash and contribute this season.

Based on the rave reviews he has drawn from his coach and Pro Bowl quarterback thus far, this young man has emerged as more than the receiver who earned name recognition for getting into a fight during minicamp with Richard Sherman. He's become a true NFL wide receiver, and his counterparts should watch their respective backs moving forward.
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