RENTON, Wash. — There is little doubt that wide receiver Kasen Williams has boosted himself more than anyone else so far during the Seattle Seahawks’ camp.
Whether it’s been his acrobatic receptions or his effort on special teams, Williams has inserted himself into the competition for one of the coveted spots in Seattle’s wide receiver rotation.
Yet, it still may not be enough to make the final 53-man roster, which speaks to the depth the Seahawks feel they have at wide receiver. This makes Friday’s third preseason game against Kansas City exceptionally important for Williams.
Another big game could make for a quite difficult decision regarding Williams when the final cuts are made next week.
“He has been spectacular. It is just such an exciting thing to see because this is a kid that we know he has this ability, but he is doing it in the games, so it’s obvious you got to keep going to him,” coach Pete Carroll said. “We have to see how long it continues and how stable that part of our game can become.”
Where Williams eventually falls in Seattle’s wide receiver hierarchy may ultimately depend on health and specific attributes. Doug Baldwin and Tyler Lockett are roster locks. That also appears to be the case for former second-round pick Paul Richardson, should he be able to stay healthy. Seattle is unlikely to part with a third-round pick like rookie Amara Darboah and veteran Jermaine Kearse — as much as fans locally may find fault in his game — is a proven commodity and a favored target of quarterback Russell Wilson.
It may come down to Williams and Tanner McEvoy for the final spot if Seattle keeps six wide receivers. The Seahawks like McEvoy’s 6-foot-6 frame and his contributions on special teams, but what Williams has done so far may be too tough to ignore.
“Where I am right now is farther than I was in high school and college,” Williams said. “It’s a new me. It’s a better version.”
It took one drive for Williams to stand out last week against Minnesota. He made a leaping, one-handed catch for 27 yards, and followed up with a 1-yard touchdown catch to cap off the drive.
What happened on the ensuing kickoff may have been even more important. Racing down the middle of the field, Williams made an open-field tackle on Minnesota returner Jerick McKinnon after just a 10-yard return. It’s a given that if Williams makes the roster he will have to contribute on special teams.
“It was probably the most important (thing),” Williams said of the special teams play. “Because I know I’ve been here for two years and I know that in order to make this team it’s going to be on special teams. You can make all the offensive plays in the world but if the special teams doesn’t happen it’s going to be hard to make the team.”
Williams was one of the top high school players in the country at Skyline High in Sammamish, Washington. He was a star at Washington, only to see his career derailed by a major foot injury. He found a home on Seattle’s practice squad each of the past two years, but other little injuries limited his opportunities on the active roster. Williams has appeared in three regular-season games with one catch in his career.
This offseason meant changes. Williams altered his diet, relying heavily on shakes and juices containing numerous vegetables that Williams wouldn’t otherwise eat. The dietary changes seem to be working. He’s down around 10 pounds and feels his body is recovering quicker from practices and games.
Williams wants his career to be in Seattle. But he’s also realistic and knows that if the Seahawks do release him late next week there may be opportunities elsewhere.
“This is where I want to play. This is love and I’ve put in so much work here,” Williams said. “But at the end of the day if it doesn’t work out here I do believe there will be an opportunity elsewhere.”