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Seahawks' receivers caught on the hard way

NEW YORK -- The Seattle Seahawks may have the most improbable set of wide receivers in Super Bowl history.

The Seahawks receivers who will play in Super Bowl XLVIII on Sunday against Denver include four undrafted free agents, including three plucked from the practice squad. Their only drafted receiver is Golden Tate, a second-rounder from Notre Dame in 2010, who led the club with 64 receptions for 898 yards and five touchdowns this season.

The others: Doug Baldwin, a third-year receiver from Stanford signed in 2011; and former practice-squaders Jermaine Kearse of Washington; Ricardo Lockette of Fort Valley State; and Bryan Walters of Cornell.

"All of them have unique skill sets," Seattle general manager John Schneider said. "You take the uniqueness of that position . . . there are so many different types of receivers. You put those guys with a coaching staff that we have, that is willing to teach . . . and they have a natural chip on their shoulder . . ."

Baldwin, who caught 50 passes for 778 yards and five touchdowns, says it's more than a chip on his shoulder.

"I usually call it a boulder, not so much a chip, it's a little bit bigger than that," Baldwin said. "More so it's everything that I've been through throughout my entire life. All the negatives, the positives, anything that's attributed to my ability to be here today kind of adds to that boulder and any doubt in my abilities. That gives me more strength to prove myself and look to my abilities as accomplishments."

Baldwin, 5 feet 10 and 189 pounds, was not the prototype receiver coming out of college, where his best work was as a kick returner.

"I didn't have a lot of good film coming out of college, also my height didn't help me at all," Baldwin said. "I ran a decent 40, but nobody would call it blazing speed. I think all those things attributed to it."

But Baldwin never gave up on himself.

"I told my high school coach in my sophomore year . . . that if a team allows me to go to college for football, there's nothing that's going to stop me from making to the NFL," he said. "I went through some difficult times in college, especially my junior year, not knowing whether I was going to continue with football, and then my senior year, once the draft ended and my name wasn't called.

"There was a while there for a second that I questioned whether or not my career would continue with football, but my agent told me that I would have a good shot to try and get into somebody's camp and I told myself that if that was an opportunity, I was going to do anything and everything in my power to make the team and be an impact player in the NFL."

As a rookie in 2011, Baldwin caught 50 passes for 788 yards and four touchdowns and became the first undrafted rookie to lead his team in receptions and yards since Bill Groman of the Houston Oilers in 1960.

"Baldwin has unique ability to set people up, not just an inside slot guy . . . he has great hands, he's extremely confident and is a tough guy," Schneider said.

Kearse, Lockette and Walters took advantage of opportunities created by a season-ending injury to Sidney Rice and injuries that kept Percy Harvin out for most of the season. Harvin, however, is expected to play Sunday.

Kearse, who caught the dramatic, 35-yard touchdown catch on fourth down in the NFC championship game, caught 22 passes for 346 yards and four touchdowns in the regular season

"We don't get a lot of opportunities," Kearse said, "and when those opportunities do come, we make the plays."

(c)2014 The Kansas City Star (Kansas City, Mo.)

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