2014 DRAFT GUIDE
Seattle's Earl Thomas makes Seahawks defense work

    2013-08-15 16:12

(Eds: Adds details, quotes. With AP Photos.)
By TIM BOOTH
AP Sports Writer

RENTON, Wash. (AP) - Questions like this make Earl Thomas uncomfortable.

The confidence he shows on the field takes a backseat when Seattle's star free safety is asked if he is the reason the Seahawks work defensively - even more so than their brash cornerbacks, more so than their talented linebackers or pass rushers. It's natural when he tries to deflect praise as much as possible.

``I don't want to say it's all about me as far as I don't ever want to come across like that, especially to my teammates,'' Thomas said. ``I think it's a collective effort but I play a big role just me being back there.''

On a team where Marshawn Lynch is the beast, Russell Wilson is a media darling and Richard Sherman seemingly can't stop receiving attention, the most important player in the Seahawks starting lineup could arguably be their free safety.

Last season the Seahawks were the best scoring defense in the NFL. When their offense sputtered early in the season, it was Thomas and his defensive mates that held Aaron Rodgers and Green Bay to just 12 points, shut down Tom Brady and New England in the second half and made life miserable for Dallas and Tony Romo.

And the Seahawks are able to play the way they do defensively because Thomas is such a unique mix of speed and skill roaming the back end, waiting to clean up any messes.

But in trying to explain how Thomas makes Seattle's defense work, there is another story about how he's taken those raw skills that made him the 14th overall pick in the 2010 draft and through a mix of maturity, study and determination has created an All-Pro who is still only 24 years old.

He was just the second Seattle safety to ever be named first-team All-Pro, joining Kenny Easley.

``When he first got here he was so enthusiastic about the opportunity to get out there and kind of create certain things and create certain situations, and the more that he has played the more he has begun to understand it's not about creating opportunities, it's about capitalizing on opportunities,'' Seahawks defensive backs coach Kris Richard said. ``And you capitalize on opportunities by being where you are supposed to be, by film study and by calculation and by taking your calculated risks. That's pretty much where it's been. It's time spent in the film room and ultimately his maturation as a leader overall and he's taken off.''

Before Thomas became the star student, the raw skills needed to be there. And much of what Seattle does defensively is predicated on what Thomas can do from the back.

Thomas is undersized for a free safety but his speed and ability to make plays on the ball in the air make up for that lack of stature. Just how fast is Thomas? The Seahawks have red lines running the length of their practice fields, inset just a few yards from the sidelines. The space between the red lines is the area a safety is expected to cover.

``They say from red line to red line here, but he can get sideline to sideline,'' cornerback Brandon Browner said. ``He can open up the wrong way and get back to the other side before the ball gets there. That's the kind of speed he has.''

Because Thomas has that kind of speed and the ability to cover ground, it allows Browner and Sherman to play the physical, press defense that fits their styles, knowing that their help will be able to get there.

``It just allows them to be normal. It's as simple as that,'' Richard said. ``Having a free safety of this caliber allows the corners to be normal.''

Thomas is considered the quarterback of the defense so it's no surprise he'll sit and watch film with Wilson. He studies alignments and splits, looking for any signal of what might be coming.

It was a trait Seattle defensive coordinator Dan Quinn noticed during Thomas' rookie season.

``There were times he'd come up and want extra meeting time and information with the guys,'' Quinn said. ``He didn't want to be a rookie that just `I'll figure it out.' He was more and more and more. The other thing that jumped out at me was his practice habits.''

Thomas said the professional game has slowed down through a combination of doing his homework and more playing experience. It was obvious on the field a year ago and it was why he was the top vote getter among all safeties in the All-Pro voting.

``Every level you go to, it's a sense of game speed as far as everything is moving a little bit faster so sometimes your mind is not ready for it. And you just act on God-given ability,'' Thomas said. ``But when the game slows down, you can see everything and you see the big picture and not get distracted by the big picture and still key in to what you've got to do. That's when you make a lot of plays and when you become great.''

---

Online: AP NFL website www.pro32.ap.org

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

Justin TuckOct 29 09:23p

Oakland Raiders TE David Ausberry (foot), WR Vincent Brown (hamstring), CB Chimdi Chekwa (hamstring), CB Keith McGill (groin) and CB Carlos Rogers (knee) did not practice Wednesday, Oct. 29. [ More ]

Bobby WagnerOct 29 09:23p

Seattle Seahawks TE Zach Miller (ankle) and LB Bobby Wagner (toe) were each unable to practice Wednesday, Oct. 29, and each is already ruled out for Week 9 against the Oakland Raiders.

Max UngerOct 29 09:23p

Seattle Seahawks DT Jordan Hill (ankle), SS Jeron Johnson (concussion), CB Byron Maxwell (calf) and LB Malcolm Smith (non-injury related) did not practice Wednesday, Oct. 29. OG James Carpenter [ More ]

J. CunninghamOct 29 08:53p

The St. Louis Rams signed OT Steven Baker, WR Emory Blake, OT Travis Bond and TE Justice Cunningham to the practice squad Wednesday, Oct. 29.

Marcus LattimoreOct 29 08:53p

San Francisco 49ers RB Marcus Lattimore (knee) returned to practice Wednesday, Oct. 29. He remains on the reserve/non-football injury list.

Brian QuickOct 29 08:43p

The St. Louis Rams placed WR Brian Quick (shoulder) on the reserve/injured list Wednesday, Oct. 29.

A.J. EddsOct 29 08:33p

Atlanta Falcons FS Sean Baker, Carolina Panthers RB Darrin Reaves, Denver Broncos DE Greg Latta, New England Patriots OG Chris Barker, New York Jets LB A.J. Edds, Oakland Raiders [ More ]

Damian WilliamsOct 29 08:33p

The St. Louis Rams promoted OG Brandon Washington from the practice squad to the active roster Wednesday, Oct. 29, and they signed free-agent WR Damian Williams.

Patrick WillisOct 29 08:03p

San Francisco 49ers CB Tramaine Brock (toe), SS Jimmie Ward (quadriceps) and LB Patrick Willis (toe) were listed as limited participants in practice Wednesday, Oct. 29. CB Chris Culliver [ More ]

Ronnie HillmanOct 29 08:03p

Denver Broncos RB Ronnie Hillman (shoulder) was limited in practice Wednesday, Oct. 29.

Anthony CollinsOct 29 07:53p

Tampa Bay Buccaneers OT Anthony Collins (foot) and LB Brandon Magee (knee) did not practice Wednesday, Oct. 29. C Evan Dietrich-Smith (knee) and DE Michael Johnson (hand) were listed as limited participants.

Lamarcus JoynerOct 29 07:53p

St. Louis Rams S Cody Davis (concussion), DT Aaron Donald (shoulder), LB Jo-Lonn Dunbar (toe), DE William Hayes (foot), CB Janoris Jenkins (knee), S Rodney McLeod (knee), OT Rodger [ More ]

Billy WinnOct 29 07:43p

Cleveland Browns WR Rodney Smith (hamstring), DE Phil Taylor (knee) and OT Joe Thomas (non-injury related) did not participate in practice Wednesday, Oct. 29. DT Ahtyba Rubin (ankle) was [ More ]

A.J. GreenOct 29 07:33p

Cincinnati Bengals WR A.J. Green (toe) returned to practice on a limited basis Wednesday, Oct. 29. Green said he feels good, and he'll try to do more Thursday, Oct. [ More ]

Johnathan JosephOct 29 07:33p

Houston Texans LB Jadeveon Clowney (knee), LB Brian Cushing (knee), CB Johnathan Joseph (knee), LB Brooks Reed (groin) and LB Jeff Tarpinian (knee) did not practice Wednesday, Oct. 29. [ More ]

Stepfan TaylorOct 29 07:33p

Arizona Cardinals RB Stepfan Taylor (calf) did not practice Wednesday, Oct. 29, and he has been ruled out for Week 9.

Patrick PetersonOct 29 07:33p

Arizona Cardinals FS Tony Jefferson (head) did not practice Wednesday, Oct. 29. LB Kenny Demens (knee), TE Troy Niklas (ankle) and CB Patrick Peterson (concussion) were listed as limited [ More ]

Brandon ThompsonOct 29 07:23p

Cincinnati Bengals LB Vontaze Burfict (knee) has been ruled out for Week 9 against the Jacksonville Jaguars. CB Darqueze Dennard (hamstring), DE Carlos Dunlap (illness), LB Rey Maualuga (hamstring), [ More ]

Louis VasquezOct 29 07:03p

Denver Broncos LB Lamin Barrow (concussion), S Quinton Carter (hamstring) and OG Louis Vasquez (illness) did not practice Wednesday, Oct. 29. CB Omar Bolden (concussion) and LB Steven Johnson [ More ]

Mike PounceyOct 29 06:53p

Miami Dolphins OG Daryn Colledge (illness) and TE Dion Sims (toe) did not practice Wednesday, Oct. 29. OG Nate Garner (neck), LB Chris McCain (foot), LB Koa Misi (ankle), [ More ]

Brian RobinsonOct 29 06:43p

Minnesota Vikings DE Brian Robinson (glute) and CB Jabari Price (hamstring) both did not participate in practice Wednesday, Oct. 29. CB Josh Robinson (ankle), DT Sharrif Floyd (ankle, knee), [ More ]

Cyrus GrayOct 29 06:23p

Kansas City Chiefs WR Donnie Avery (groin) did not participate in practice Wednesday, Oct. 29, and has been ruled out for the team's Week 9 game. CB Jamell Fleming [ More ]

R. Griffin IIIOct 29 05:53p

Washington Redskins QB Robert Griffin III is expected to start in the team's Week 9 game against the Minnesota Vikings, according to league sources.

Tracy PorterOct 29 05:53p

Washington Redskins S Ryan Clark (ankle, shoulder) and OT Trent Williams (knee) were limited in practice Wednesday, Oct. 29. LB Ryan Kerrigan (wrist), LB Trent Murphy (knee), CB Tracy [ More ]

Jon BeasonOct 29 05:33p

New York Giants LB Jon Beason (foot, toe) was placed on the Reserve/Injured list Wednesday, Oct. 29.

Jonathan GoodwinOct 29 05:23p

New Orleans Saints LB David Hawthorne (hand) and FB Austin Johnson (knee) both did not practice Wednesday, Oct. 29, and have been ruled out for the team's Week 9 [ More ]

Pierre ThomasOct 29 05:23p

New Orleans Saints RB Pierre Thomas (rib, shoulder) did not practice Wednesday, Oct. 29, and has been ruled out for Week 9.

Jimmy GrahamOct 29 05:23p

New Orleans Saints TE Jimmy Graham (shoulder) was limited in practice Wednesday, Oct. 29, and is questionable for the team's Week 9 game.

Brandon BrownerOct 29 05:03p

New England Patriots DE Chandler Jones (hip) did not participate in practice Wednesday, Oct. 29. FS Nate Ebner (finger), DE Dominique Easley (knee, shoulder), OT Cameron Fleming (finger) and [ More ]

Demario DavisOct 29 05:03p

New York Jets CB Darrin Walls (calf, knee) didn't practice Wednesday, Oct. 29. OG Oday Aboushi (shoulder), OG Willie Colon (knee), LB David Harris (shoulder), LG Trevor Reilly (knee) [ More ]

Terrell SuggsOct 29 04:53p

Baltimore Ravens WR Michael Campanaro (thigh), DT Haloti Ngata (shin), CB Jimmy Smith (foot), LB Terrell Suggs (neck), CB Lardarius Webb (non-injury) and OG Marshal Yanda (knee) all did [ More ]

Justin ForsettOct 29 04:53p

Baltimore Ravens RB Justin Forsett (ankle) did not participate in practice Wednesday, Oct. 29. Forsett is dealing with an ankle injury.

RSS Feeds

NFL News:
 
Player Notes:
 
Forum Posts:
 

© 2014 RealTime Fantasy Sports, Inc.
Email Us  ·  Call Us 636.447.1170  ·  Lost Password
Advertising represented by USA Today Sports Media Group