Casual fans who were watching the Seattle Seahawks’ preseason opener against the Denver Broncos last Thursday may have sworn they saw Doug Baldwin haul in a reception in the second quarter.
That was John Ursua, but his route, hands and movement after the catch were reminiscent of the former Seahawks star, who retired this offseason.
The Seahawks are loading up on big, physical receivers on the outside, including David Moore and rookies DK Metcalf and Jazz Ferguson.
With Baldwin gone and plenty of outside receivers on the roster, there could be an opening for Ursua to carve out a role as the team’s slot receiver.
“Very natural football player,” offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer commented on Tuesday. “Very natural. Definitely fits more of that slot role. I mean, he’s very comfortable in there, he understands how you find voids and how to get open.”
The Seahawks indicated earlier in the offseason that Tyler Lockett could transition into a slot role following Baldwin’s retirement, but they also want the flexibility to move him around and allow him to play outside as well.
Gary Jennings is certainly an option in the slot, although he has struggled to gain traction this offseason and is not as natural of a slot receiver as Ursua is.
Ursua drew praise from Schottenheimer for not only his pass-catching ability, but his ability to quickly transition to moving with the ball and gaining yards after the catch.
Those traits are truly Baldwin-esque, and while it will be tough to crack Seattle’s 53-man roster this year, Ursua’s natural ability as a slot receiver could give him the edge over some of the other receivers in camp.