Jermaine Kearse seeing things more clearly in second year
Eye surgery has helped the receiver, who is sometimes remembered for making inexplicable drops when he played for the Huskies.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Jermaine Kearse used to talk about needing to focus more when he struggled with an irritating habit of dropping a few too many passes during his career at the University of Washington.
What few understood at the time is how literally Kearse meant those words.
Now entering his second year as a receiver with the Seahawks, Kearse feels comfortable enough to tell a little secret — he's needed glasses for years, and often wore contacts during games as a Husky.
No one outside the team knew, Kearse says. He doesn't use it as the entire excuse for why he would sometimes inexplicably drop an easy pass after having just turned in a highlight-reel grab.
But having spent some of his salary with the Seahawks to have Lasik eye surgery in February, he says the difference is noticeable.
"I don't really drop the ball as much anymore."
He said surgery "has helped a lot. I don't have to deal with my contacts being all blurry."
Sometimes, Kearse said, he played without contacts because he found them so bothersome. He says he now has 20-15 vision and finds himself seeing things he hadn't in years.
Pointing to a wall with writing on it about 20 feet away, he says, "I like to test myself now. I like reading things. I've never been able to read all of that before."
Maybe that will help Kearse see himself in a Seahawks uniform for another season, despite the fact that his position was upgraded greatly with the addition of Percy Harvin, as well as third-round draftee Chris Harper.
Kearse made the Seahawks last season as an undrafted free agent, playing in seven games and making three catches. He was on the field for 18 snaps in the memorable home win over the 49ers.
He figures to battle this season for one of the last spots at receiver, after Harvin, Sidney Rice, Golden Tate and Doug Baldwin.
He's aided his cause greatly by playing on many special-teams units. He's also helped himself by quickly learning every receiver position.
"He's got size, he's got speed and he's a smart football player," receivers coach Kippy Brown said of the 6-foot-1, 205-pound Kearse. "So that combination allows you to do a lot of things with him. When you are a backup, you have to learn multiple positions and he did that, and that made him a lot more valuable.
"Jermaine has his role right now. He's a core special-teams guy, and he can play every position, so when we do have an injury, and that happens, he can go in for that position and we really don't lose that much. So he's a very valuable guy to us on special teams and in our rotation."
As an undrafted player, Kearse said he knew he'd have to do whatever the team asked.
"In order to play on the team, you've got to have some value, and special teams is an area where you can earn some of that," he said.
It was something Kearse did a little bit at UW, though he laughs and admits "it's funny because in college, nobody really wants to play special teams." Kearse was on the UW kickoff return and punt return units at times.
With the Seahawks, Kearse said he has embraced special teams.
"I like running down on the kickoff team," he said. "That's something I never got to do at UW. So it's fun."
So is simply living the NFL dream with his hometown team. That he went undrafted after finishing second in UW history in receptions with 180 (behind only the 238 of Reggie Williams) served as only a momentary disappointment, he said.
"That was just one of those things I couldn't control," he said. "I got an opportunity here and just tried to make the best of it."
A chance he sees a little more clearly these days.
• Tight end Anthony McCoy cleared waivers and was placed on injured reserve. He is expected to miss up to nine months with an Achilles injury suffered last week.
• The Seahawks announced they have signed fifth-round pick Tharold Simon (a cornerback) and seventh-rounder Michael Bowie (an offensive tackle). The team has signed all 11 of its 2013 draftees.
Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Twitter @bcondotta