Seahawks' Willson, McGrath step up after McCoy injury

RENTON, Wash. (AP) - Losing Anthony McCoy to an Achilles tear two weeks ago has thrown a wrench into the Seattle Seahawks' plans for their tight end position.

The Seahawks were hoping fifth-round pick Luke Willson would be the missing piece to bolster offensive production from the group along with McCoy and starter Zach Miller. But once the Seahawks filled that hole, another one emerged. McCoy's injury will likely force him to miss the entire upcoming season. He was waived/injured by Seattle last week and landed on injured reserve with the Seahawks after clearing waivers.

McCoy had overcome inconsistency to become a reliable second option for the Seahawks last year. McCoy had been prone to drops in his first two seasons but managed to catch the ball with more regularity last year. He caught 18 passes for 291 yards and three touchdowns for the Seahawks while becoming a competent blocker as well.

"He continued to develop every year. Get better. Get more mature, understand the game better and really develop as a tight end," Miller said.

Tight ends coach Pat McPherson lamented the loss of McCoy and stressed how far he has come the last few seasons.

"Anthony has really matured as a person and as a player," McPherson said. "Anthony is brilliant smart. He barely takes a note and he remembers what you said three weeks ago. I know when I put Anthony into a game that he's going to know exactly what he's supposed to do and really shows great effort on a really consistent basis."

Now Seattle has to replace that production. McCoy's injury creates an opportunity for Sean McGrath, Victor Marshall, Darren Fells and Cooper Helfet to possibly win a roster spot. McGrath appears to be the likeliest candidate to seize control of the position. McGrath spent most of last season on the practice squad for Seattle after being signed as an undrafted free agent out of Division II Henderson State.

McGrath was elevated to the active roster late in the season and played in the final two games of the regular season and both playoff games for the Seahawks. While Willson was drafted to give Seattle more of a downfield receiving threat from the position, McGrath fits the traditional tight end mold. He's worked to get bigger this offseason and impressed the coaching with his play last season.

"He rarely makes a mistake," McPherson said. "Very versatile, can play both tight end spots, and makes plays."

With McCoy out of the picture, there is likely at least one roster spot at the position available behind Miller. Though he understands the opportunity available, McGrath isn't trying to let the situation affect how he approaches the game.

"Really nothing's changed. I'm always trying to push the person in front of me," McGrath said. "Whether it's Zach or Anthony I'm coming hungry and ready to compete."

"I'm just trying to get better every day, get on the field and get one more tick than I did last year," he said.

For Willson, his speed and receiving ability has flashed since he first stepped on the field for the team's three-day rookie mini-camp in May. The Seahawks won't truly know what they have in Willson until they are able to see him in pads and see his blocking ability during training camp, but so far the impressions are positive.

"He's ready to learn. He's listened to everything. He's asking questions. It's exactly how you want your rookie to be," Miller said. "He's making plays out here and having some good days. It's what he has to do to be our second tight end."