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Tyler Lockett: I was probably playing at 75-80 percent health last season

NFL: Seattle Seahawks at Jacksonville Jaguars Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

2018 is a big year for Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Tyler Lockett. Not only is this the end of his rookie contract, but recent changes to the Seahawks offense leave him as the clear-cut #2 receiving option.

Lockett appeared in every game in 2017, having suffered a broken leg in Seattle’s penultimate regular season game in 2016. He registered 45 catches for 555 yards and a pair of touchdowns, as well as a terrific kickoff return for a score in Seattle’s season finale against Arizona.

When asked at Seahawks minicamp about how healthy he was last season, Lockett admitted that he wasn’t at his best.

“I’d probably say about 75, 80 percent,” Lockett said (transcription via Seattle Times). “But it didn’t stop me from still going out there and doing my same job, the same role that I was given. Still was getting open against people. The thing is, it doesn’t matter how you feel when you go out there. If you go out there, it’s time to go. You can’t make excuses if you don’t get open. You can’t make excuses if you don’t catch the pass. If you’re out there, everybody expects you to do the same thing if you weren’t hurt.”

If we go by the NFL’s tracking data for game speed, the stats suggest that yes, the difference in Lockett’s speed from 2016 to 2017 (or pre-injury to post-injury, if you will) is very clear.

Still, he didn’t miss a game in 2017, has a full offseason to participate in workouts instead of rehabbing from a catastrophic injury, and due to the departures of Paul Richardson and Jimmy Graham, one would assume that he’s going to have a career-high in targets this season and be a major part of the passing game. He showed flashes of brilliance in his rookie year, and hopefully he really breaks out in 2018.

Head coach Pete Carroll was predictably excited about what Lockett brings to the table and how differently this offseason has been compared to the previous one.

“It’s real positive, really positive,” Carroll said. “You guys have watched him, and he’s just such a wonderful kid on your team, and there’s just been a spirit about him about wanting to compete and extra stuff and always at it, and then last year he couldn’t do that, he wasn’t able to. He was rehabbing and just barely getting on the practice field for the most part. And now he’s back freed up and ready to go again, so you see all that great spirit and the energy that he generates. It’s wonderful to see because he’s such a great kid. He’s really excited about getting back and digging in on returns as well as the receiver stuff. He and (Russell Wilson), they really have a great understanding too, and he knows what we’re doing and all. So he’s a real positive part of our team.”

Of course, under John Schneider, the Seahawks have rarely kept any of their offensive draft picks beyond their rookie contracts. At the wide receiver position, the only notable contract extensions handed out were to Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse, both of whom were undrafted free agents. Draft capital was spent on Golden Tate and Paul Richardson, but they’ve obviously moved on to other teams. Maybe Lockett can break the trend, have a strong contract year, and be a part of the long-term plans for the Seahawks offense.

You can watch Lockett’s press conference in the video below: