With Richardson out, it’s Norwood’s turn

Paul Richardson and Kevin NorwoodWide receiver Paul Richardson’s torn ACL is bad news, especially because the rookie had emerged as a key contributor, but the Seahawks have the depth to withstand it.

Richardson’s loss is Kevin Norwood’s gain as the other rookie, who was inactive Saturday against Carolina, figures to play vs. Green Bay next Sunday and in the Super Bowl.

After a slow start to the season, Richardson had really come on over the last four weeks — with 15 catches for 169 yards and a touchdown. He caught five passes in each of the last two games, against Arizona and St. Louis.

He had looked ready to challenge Jermaine Kearse for a starting spot next season, but the knee injury almost certainly will delay his 2015 debut.

Meanwhile, Kearse reasserted himself Saturday with three huge catches, gaining 129 yards and scoring on a terrific, one-handed 63-yard catch and run.

Kearse and Doug Baldwin both scored vs. Carolina and proved once again that they are both very capable receivers in the playoffs.

With Richardson out, Norwood figures to step in alongside Ricardo Lockette. Norwood played in nine games this season, catching nine passes for 102 yards.

The Hawks also are relying more on the Wilson-to-Willson connection these days. For the second time in three games — and the second time against Carolina this season — Luke Willson came up big Saturday: team-high four receptions for 68 yards, including a 25-yard touchdown.

“The work that they’ve put in, the time they’ve spent together, Luke is really coming alive,” coach Pete Carroll said. “They are creating a chemistry that makes a difference. Luke is a big man that runs real fast. If you get the ball in his hands, you saw him break the tackles and go. He’s a heckuva football player. So, that’s something that’s really exciting. It’s coming on, and … it’s getting better as we’re finishing up this season. It really bodes well for the future and those guys working together. ”

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