WR Harper brings size, strength tp Seahawks

Converted quarterback presents problems for opposing defensive backs

eric.williams@thenewstribune.comMay 12, 2013 

RENTON – At 6-foot-1 and 234 pounds, Chris Harper is a physical receiver who packs a punch.

And that’s something Seahawks receivers coach Kippy Brown is looking forward to watching on Sundays.

“I love his size and strength,” Brown said. “Big guys with athletic ability are hard to cover. And he’s certainly that.”

A converted quarterback (he started his career at Oregon) who has played receiver for only three seasons, Harper relied on his size and athletic ability at Kansas State, finishing with 58 catches for 857 yards and three touchdowns his final season for the Wildcats.

“It helps me a lot,” Harper said. “DBs are not used to seeing guys at 230 (pounds) playing receiver. There’s not too many guys in the league that are that big. So it gives me an advantage, as far as at the point of attack when the ball’s in the air, giving them an extra nudge.

“When they want to get into pushing matches, I usually come out on top.”

Harper, Seattle’s fourth-round selection, is working on the other part – learning the playbook so route combinations and route adjustments become second nature.

Harper said the transition has been eased by his experience in the Senior Bowl, working with Oakland’s coaching staff. The Raiders run a style of West Coast offense similar to Seattle’s.

Harper also has leaned on second-year pro Phil Bates, who

spent most of last season on Seattle’s practice squad and is participating in this weekend’s minicamp.

“It’s hard when you’re thinking about doing so much,” Harper said. “This is my first time out here being in this system. So just actually knowing it, and learning the schemes where you don’t have to think about it, but just go out there and do it.”

The Seahawks are stacked at receiver, with Sidney Rice, Percy Harvin, Golden Tate and Doug Baldwin. So Harper’s first chance to contribute likely will be on special teams.

But Brown said he’s willing to be patient.

“He’s coming,” Brown said. “He’s learning. This is a whole new deal for him, especially learning the offense. There’s a lot of thinking going on. So he practiced faster today than he did yesterday. … It’s just a learning deal. When he gets it, it’s no different than anybody else we’ve had. He’ll speed up. But athletically, he’s what we thought he was.”

Seattle coach Pete Carroll likes what he’s seen from Harper.

“He caught the ball beautifully,” Carroll said. “He really has great hands. That’s what we had seen.”

PUYALLUP GRAD SHINES

Slowed during his senior season at the University of Idaho because of a turf toe injury, receiver Justin Veltung didn’t garner much attention from NFL scouts leading up to this year’s draft.

In eight games, Veltung made six catches for 166 yards for the Vandals.

The result was an invitation from the Seahawks to participate in the team’s rookie minicamp as a tryout player after turning some heads at Seattle’s local pro day in April.

The Puyallup High product has made the most of his opportunity so far, making several nice grabs for big gains in the first two days of camp.

“He’s a smart guy,” Brown said. “He knows what to do. He doesn’t make very many mistakes, and so far he’s been real reliable catching the football. So we’ll see.”

Speed has never been an issue for the 5-10, 183-pound Veltung. He ran the 40-yard sprint in 4.46 seconds at his pro day.

Veltung also finished as Idaho’s all-time leader in kick return yardage (1,743), so he adds some versatility with his ability to return punts and kicks.

“Obviously I’d like to get signed by the Hawks, and just become the best player I can, honestly,” Veltung said. “And if I don’t make it here, make it somewhere. But I’d love to make it here overall, with the hometown team.”

Eric D. Williams: 253-597-8437 eric.williams@thenewstribune.com blog.thenewstribune.com/seahawks @eric_d_williams

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