Jacob Hollister’s hot start to Seattle Seahawks training camp begged an obvious question: Why on Earth would the New England Patriots, a franchise that just lost the best tight end in NFL history to retirement, trade away a player who seems to be a more than capable playmaker?
“To be honest with you I really don’t know,” Hollister said of the April 29 trade that sent him across the country in exchange for a 2020 seventh-round pick. “My job is to play, and so I don’t know what the coaches are thinking sometimes. I respect all the staff over there and the organization as a whole. They traded me for a reason. I don’t know what that reason is, but I’m really happy to be here. It’s been great.”
Hollister came out of the gates looking like Seattle’s best pass catching tight end, and he shined in the Seahawks mock game with a team-high four receptions. A groin strain derailed his momentum and kept him out for more than a week, including Seattle’s preseason opener against the Denver Broncos.
What works in Hollister’s favor is that Ed Dickson (knee) remains out and won’t be ready for the start of the regular season. Working against Hollister is that while he was out, Will Dissly (knee) continued to progress and has reclaimed his spot as Seattle’s No. 1 pass catching tight end.
But Hollister is right in the mix, and his spot on the 53-man roster appears safe. Being on Seattle’s gameday 46-man roster in Week 1 is the objective. His speed is what sets him apart from Dissly and Nick Vannett. It’s also the attribute that will help Hollister earn the role he’s pursuing.
“That’s one of the biggest reasons why we brought him here,” Seahawks tight ends coach Pat McPherson said. “He’s really fast. I think he’s a legit 4.5 guy. He’s got a really good sense of how to get open and work (defenders) with his speed. He’s got good hands and he’s smart. He’s real intense, and he gets after it.”
Hollister couldn’t remember his exact 40-time at his Pro Day, but the Wyoming product is convinced he’s even faster now.
“I’d hope to be just under the 4.5s,” he said. “As a receiver I’m a lot faster now than I was.”
The third-year tight end has played in 23 career games (three starts) with eight receptions for 94 yards. This may be the season he gets the expanded role he’s been working for.
McPherson anticipates the Seahawks using a committee approach at tight end, and given how often the Seahawks utilize two tight end sets, there should be plenty of snaps to go around.
“I have really high expectations for myself,” Hollister said. “The more I can contribute to the team, the happier I’m going to be,” Hollister said. “I feel like I’m capable in every way. I’m excited to be able to show that and prove it to my teammates and coaches.”