While young receivers like Stephen Williams and Chris Harper have received more attention, second-year pro Phil Bates has shown steady progress. And with Percy Harvin out, Bates is one of a handful of receivers in the mix fighting for the last couple roster spots at receiver for the Seattle Seahawks.
Bates was an option quarterback at Ohio University, but suffered a major shoulder injury to his throwing shoulder during his junior year, and switched to receiver his senior season.
The Seahawks signed Bates as an undrafted rookie free agent in 2012, and he spent most of last season on the practice squad.
Now in his second year in Seattle, Bates continues to develop. At 6-1 and 220 pounds, Bates has developed into a good route runner. His big body and strong hands gives him an advantage in jump-ball situations, similar to another former college quarterback — Anquan Boldin.
Bates also offers versatility. He can play split end, flanker and slot receiver. Right now, he’s listed as third on the depth chart at split end behind Golden Tate and Stephen Williams.
“I play everywhere,” Bates said. “I play every single position, and I try to know every position so I can be versatile, and play wherever. And that’s the good thing about it. They can put you in wherever and you can just go.”
Like Ben Obomanu during his time in Seattle, Bates understands he will have to contribute on special teams to earn a job.
“I’ve got to play every special teams, and do good on special teams,” he said. “So that’s the key – playing special teams, knowing your job and excelling at it.”
Here’s what Bates had to say, when asked what he needs to do in order to make Seattle’s final roster.
“I just need to show that I know the offense, and I can play,” Bates said. “That I can do what the coaches ask me to do –everything. You want to show that when you’re put into any situation, you can handle it. So that’s my thing.”
Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson has noticed Bates’ improvement.
“Phil is more and more aggressive every day,” Wilson said. “That is one of the things I’ve been trying to push him with and talk to him about, because he has huge hands. He has long arms. He is a strong kid. He goes and just attacks the football and has that mentality of, ‘I’m going to get to this every single time the ball comes to me.’”