2015 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

Richard RodgersJul 1 05:03p

Green Bay Packers TE Richard Rodgers could see more playing time in 2015, according to Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com. Rodgers played 528 snaps, while fellow TE Andrew Quarless played [ More ]

Rob HouslerJun 30 03:13p

Cleveland Browns TEs Gary Barnidge, Rob Housler and Jim Dray could all end up taking over for TE Jordan Cameron, who is now with the Miami Dolphins. Head coach [ More ]

Sam BradfordJun 29 05:22p

Philadelphia Eagles QB Sam Bradford (knee) is expected to be in the final phase of his rehabilitation from a torn anterior cruciate ligament once training camp begins. Bradford's second [ More ]

Charles JohnsonJun 29 02:02p

Minnesota Vikings WR Charles X. Johnson appears to have everything it takes to produce in the NFL, according to offensive coordinator Norv Turner. 'He's got great work ethic, and [ More ]

C.J. SpillerJun 28 09:02p

New Orleans Saints RB C.J. Spiller has a perfect skill-set for head coach Sean Payton's system, which relies on getting the ball to players in space, according Chris Wesseling [ More ]

Tony MoeakiJun 25 07:12p

Atlanta Falcons TE Tony Moeaki will compete with TE Jacob Tamme for the Falcons' starting tight end job during training camp. QB Matt Ryan praised both tight ends for [ More ]

Kelvin BenjaminJun 25 03:52p

Carolina Panthers WR Kelvin Benjamin's reported weight gain this offseason is being overblown, according to general manager Dave Gettleman. Gettleman expects Benjamin to be ready to go for training [ More ]

Antoine CasonJun 25 03:03a

Free-agent CB Antoine Cason (foot) will miss the 2015 season due to surgery he underwent on Tuesday, June 23. Cason (Ravens) did not specify what type of surgery he [ More ]

Marvin JonesJun 24 09:13p

Cincinnati Bengals WR Marvin Jones (ankle, foot) did not play in 2014 due to multiple foot and ankle issues, but he is healthy and was impressive in organized team activities (OTAs) and minicamp.

Keith WenningJun 24 02:43p

Free-agent QB Keith Wenning (Ravens) signed with the Cincinnati Bengals Wednesday, June 24. Terms of the contract were not disclosed.

Pierre GarconJun 24 02:23p

Washington Redskins WR Pierre Garcon could be featured more often in the passing game this season based on the offseason workouts. Garcon often lined up to the right of [ More ]

Martavis BryantJun 24 01:43p

Pittsburgh Steelers WRs Markus Wheaton and Martavis Bryant are expected to compete for the No. 2 wide receiver job during training camp. Both players performed well during offseason workouts.

Peyton ManningJun 24 11:53a

Denver Broncos QB Peyton Manning was the subject of preliminary trade discussions with the Houston Texans, according to a source. The talks occurred before Manning restructured his deal and [ More ]

Rueben RandleJun 24 10:53a

New York Giants WR Rueben Randle was the best receiver on the field by a wide margin during spring practices, in the opinion of beat writer Jordan Ranaan. Randle [ More ]

Chris IvoryJun 24 10:43a

New York Jets RB Chris Ivory is listed as the starting running back entering training camp, according to beat writer Rich Cimini's unofficial depth chart. RB Bilal Powell is [ More ]

Devonta FreemanJun 23 10:22a

Atlanta Falcons RB Devonta Freeman enters training camp ahead of RB Tevin Coleman on the depth chart.

Joseph RandleJun 23 10:02a

Dallas Cowboys RB Joseph Randle appears to be the clear leader at running back, and it's his job to lose in training camp.

Ahmad BradshawJun 22 11:32p

Free-agent RB Ahmad Bradshaw (Colts) has been suspended one game for violation of the league's substance abuse policy. If he signs with a team he must sit out for the first week.

Terrelle PryorJun 22 04:33p

Cincinnati Bengals WR Terrelle Pryor was claimed off waivers by the Cleveland Browns Monday, June 22, according to a source.

Fred DavisJun 19 06:02p

New England Patriots TE Fred Davis was released Friday, June 19.

Dennis PittaJun 19 02:22p

Baltimore Ravens TE Dennis Pitta (hip) was not medically cleared to practice in minicamp as he continues to recover from his second dislocated and fractured hip in as many [ More ]

Isaiah CrowellJun 19 01:22p

Cleveland Browns RB Isaiah Crowell could be the workhorse back if his ball security improves, according to offensive coordinator John DeFilippo.

Devonta FreemanJun 19 01:12p

Atlanta Falcons RB Devonta Freeman will be used in a lot of different ways, including as a receiver, according to head coach Dan Quinn. 'I knew Devonta had terrific [ More ]

Chris OgbonnayaJun 19 11:32a

Free-agent RB Chris Ogbonnaya (Giants) announced his retirement Friday, June 19.

John MoffittJun 18 11:02p

Free-agent OG John Moffitt unretired Wednesday, June 17, and cleared waivers Thursday, June 18. He is free to sign with a team of his choosing. The Philadelphia Eagles, Miami [ More ]

Terrelle PryorJun 18 09:32p

Free-agent QB Terrelle Pryor is going to give it a shot at playing wide receiver in the NFL. Some teams have already expressed an interest.

Allen RobinsonJun 18 09:22p

Jacksonville Jaguars WR Allen Robinson was described as 'unbelievable' by QB Blake Bortles Thursday, June 18. 'He's definitely a threat now in the red zone. ... He's physical. He [ More ]

Terrelle PryorJun 18 05:32p

Cincinnati Bengals QB Terrelle Pryor was waived Thursday, June 18.

Taylor ThompsonJun 18 05:32p

Tennesse Titans TE Taylor Thompson was waived Thursday, June 18.

Matthew MulliganJun 18 04:32p

Free-agent TE Matthew Mulligan (Titans) signed an undisclosed contract with the Buffalo Bills Thursday, June 18.

Carlton MitchellJun 18 04:22p

Free-agent WR Carlton Mitchell (Buccaneers) signed an undisclosed contract with the Atlanta Falcons Thursday, June 18. WR Shane Wynn was waived.

Daniel ThomasJun 18 04:12p

Free-agent RB Daniel Thomas (Dolphins) signed a one-year contract with the Chicago Bears Thursday, June 18. Financial terms were not disclosed.

RSS Feeds

NFL News:
 
Player Notes:
 
Forum Posts:
 

© 2015 RealTime Fantasy Sports, Inc.
Email Us  ·  Call Us 636.447.1170  ·  Lost Password
Advertising represented by USA Today Sports Media Group