Seattle looking for big plays from Thomas
In full pads, it took Seattle rookie safety Earl Thomas less
than 10 seconds to take an interception back 86 yards for a
touchdown against Minnesota last week.
And that included some Deion Sanders-esque high-stepping the
last couple of yards.
Maybe those claims of Thomas coming out of Texas with 4.3-second
40-yard speed weren’t so outlandish.
”I never had that speed at all,” Seattle veteran safety Lawyer
Milloy said. ”That’s something you can’t coach. He’s definitely
blessed with some legs.”
The Seahawks are hoping Thomas’ return against the Vikings is a
sign of a defense able to create more big plays after just giving
them up a year ago and ranking 22nd in the NFL in
For Thomas, it was another step in his education this preseason
of adjusting to the expectations of being a starting safety in the
NFL at just 21 years old.
”I came a long way from the first game and even from the first
practice,” Thomas said. ”I think I get better every time I get on
the field and just from learning the mistakes I had previously and
getting them corrected.”
The Seahawks never left any doubt about their intent of making
Thomas their starting safety from the beginning. Even with just two
years of college experience, head coach Pete Carroll and general
manager John Schneider felt comfortable enough with Thomas’ skills
that he has run with the No. 1 defense from the first post-draft
That’s not to say there aren’t moments of frustration or plenty
During Seattle’s second preseason game against Green Bay, Thomas
and Milloy were engaged in an animated conversation on the sideline
after a blown coverage left Jermichael Finley wide open for a
touchdown – after Seattle had called a time out. He also got beat
on the first play of the game, a perfectly thrown deep ball from
Aaron Rodgers to Greg Jennings for 56 yards
”We still have some work to do. He definitely needed last week.
It simplified it for him, take some of the elements away from him
and have him concentrate on just football, his preparation, and the
ball will come to you,” Milloy said. ”He did that and we saw what
happened. It’s a process with him.”
Making impact plays is what Thomas did at Texas. In just two
seasons Thomas had 10 interceptions, ranking 11th on the Longhorns
all-time list. Eight of those came last year when Thomas led the
nation in interceptions and was a first-team all-American by The
Associated Press and seemingly every other publication.
Part of the reason for his knack for the ball is that Thomas
started his career at cornerback. After playing a myriad of
positions in high school, Thomas was undersized when he arrived in
Austin and started his Texas career as a 180-pound cornerback. Even
as he grew, Thomas was about to begin his redshirt freshman season
as a cornerback until a last-minute switch to safety.
Still, he started as a backup.
”But when I got out there I started making a bunch of plays,”
Just like last week against Minnesota. Before grabbing a
deflection off the hands of Bernard Berrian and racing for his
score, Thomas almost had another pick when a deflected pass fell in
and out of his hands. He also showed that even at just 200 pounds,
Thomas can bring some force, flattening Vikings receiver Percy
Now comes Thursday night in Oakland and the final rehearsal for
Milloy and Thomas before the regular season begins.
”Me and Lawyer have a great relationship. He took me under his
wing,” Thomas said. ”I sit by him in every meeting we have and
we’re always going over stuff we messed up in the previous game,
previous practice. He’s helped me out a lot.”