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Seahawks seem to be serious about letting Earl Thomas return punts

Thomas AP

Seahawks safety Earl Thomas may be earning that new contract in an unusual way.  One of the key players on the team’s defense could also be the team’s top punt returner for 2014.

Few took the possibility seriously in May, when coach Pete Carroll called Thomas the top option given the departure of receiver Golden Tate in free agency.  In Friday night’s unofficial dress rehearsal for Week One, Thomas ripped off a 59-yard return.  (He was caught from behind.  By the punter.)

It felt like normal,” Thomas said, via the Seattle Times. “It felt like anytime I get the ball I can make something happen. People are just so blind to the fact and stuck in their ways, but I love it because I’ve got a chance to shut everybody up.”

Only two other Seahawks players have returned punts in the preseason — cornerback Phillip Adams and receiver Bryan Walters.  The officially unofficial depth chart shows Thomas as the top punt returner, with cornerback Richard Sherman at No. 2 and receiver Paul Richardson as the third option.

Receiver Percy Harvin, perhaps the most explosive and dynamic player on the team, remains the primary kickoff returner.  In the past, he has struggled to comfortably field a punted ball.

While Thomas surely has the skill, the duty puts him at an enhanced risk of injury.  The Seahawks seem to be willing to assume that risk.

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48 Responses to “Seahawks seem to be serious about letting Earl Thomas return punts”
  1. jdrewsy says: Aug 23, 2014 4:13 PM

    As long as Ricardo Lockette isn’t the one tackling him, I like it. Kenny Easley did it in his day, now Earl is taking over. Go Hawks!

  2. thebirdofprey2 says: Aug 23, 2014 4:17 PM

    Earl seems to think people doubt his ability to return punts. It has absolutely nothing to do with it, he is the top FS and in my eyes the most important piece to the defense.

    Very few Seahawk fans feel comfortable watching Earl return punts, Bryan Walters sat out yesterday healing his ribs from PR. Plus that hit Lockette made as the gunner on the Bears, if Earl takes one of those people will be calling for Pete’s head.

  3. 13datsyuk13 says: Aug 23, 2014 4:19 PM

    Earl Thomas is the best player in the league. Get him the ball any way you can and magic will happen.

  4. c00pdawg says: Aug 23, 2014 4:20 PM

    E.T.III returning punts!!

    Superbowl Champion Hawks have got serious cajones, mang!!

  5. snoqualmieterry says: Aug 23, 2014 4:23 PM

    A long time ago the coaching staff let Kenny Easly return punts. It ended his career. This is the first mistake our GM and coach have made. Thomas is the reason our corners can play so aggressively.

  6. theycallmeyango says: Aug 23, 2014 4:25 PM

    Why are we blind and set in our ways? Some people just find it interesting that a top defensive player would also be returning punts I don’t see the issue. Who’s he planning to shut up? Who actually cares if he does this or not? There’s only about hundred other stories from around the league that are more interesting than this

  7. seabrawk12 says: Aug 23, 2014 4:25 PM

    I have to admit it makes me uneasy but if he really feels that it’s a job he has a passion for than more power to him. Just be careful out there Earl. Go HAWKS

  8. cacksman says: Aug 23, 2014 4:29 PM

    The concern was also a doubt he could be a game changer as a punt returner. No one has seen him do it before, so most fans felt they could get the same type of performance out of a less important player.

    If he’s truly the game changer he showed last night, I have zero problem with it.

    As Carroll said “Him and Kam are our top 2 tacklers on kickoff coverage. You want me to take them off that too?”.

  9. squackduckhawk says: Aug 23, 2014 4:32 PM

    This is just begging for trouble. Please, for the love of all that is holy, choose somebody else. I would rather see a fair catch on every punt this year than see an integral part of our revered defense (Thomas or Sherman) getting injured or concussed on a punt return.

  10. dalcow4 says: Aug 23, 2014 4:34 PM

    Pretty darn stupid.

    You don’t agree? You will when he gets hurt.

  11. thestrategyexpert says: Aug 23, 2014 4:36 PM

    Just about every team struggles with receiving punts in multiple ways.

  12. scoobaj says: Aug 23, 2014 4:40 PM

    You can’t play the what if game in this league, if he has the will and the skill, don’t hold back success.

  13. goldrush36 says: Aug 23, 2014 4:43 PM

    Earl is the best safety in the league so this is very risky. He definitely has the ability to do so…. and so did Dez Bryant, just like Dez though just because you can doesn’t mean you should. Stay safe ET

  14. theycallmeyango says: Aug 23, 2014 4:47 PM

    Seahawk fans really showing their lack of football knowledge here. You guys ever hear of a player named Troy Brown a WR that played on every team the Pats had including D. That’s what great players do, they play. You put your best out there in any situation where they can succeed without fear of injury. Coaching from a place of fear has never worked for anyone

  15. 4d9erdynasty says: Aug 23, 2014 4:49 PM

    Im good with it…

  16. nosleeptilsb says: Aug 23, 2014 5:03 PM

    Is it risky yes, but the football field is a battlefield, and General Patton would have had Thomas lead the charge every time. He can be tackled from behind, but you dont want to be the one on the receiving end of what’s behind door 3 if you try to stop the bull in the woods head on.

  17. seadawgs72 says: Aug 23, 2014 5:03 PM

    As probably the biggest key player in the lob this scares the hell out of me. Btw, someone above said out ended Easley’s career. What actually ended his career was ibuprofen. At the time out was a brand new “miracle” drug & they gave him injections of it regularly. For his knees if i remember right. Either way it destroyed his kidneys & damaged his liver. Good Ol NFL Dr’s. Treat the players like race horses. If they die they die.

  18. osoviejo says: Aug 23, 2014 5:04 PM

    The debate over Earl returning punts is ridiculous. It’s football, play the game or go home. Criminy, you’d think Thomas is the first starter to play special teams. The Seahawks’ special teams are loaded with starters, but now it’s a problem? Bah.

    They’re paying Harvin $12M a year, coming off back-to-back serious injuries, and no one has said a peep about him returning kicks. They’re paying Sherman $12M a year, and stick him on special teams as well.

    The risk of injury is there for everyone, all the time. Farwell looked like he blew up his groin without contact. You don’t play great football by preventing your great players from contributing wherever they can.

    If you’re really consumed with worry over Earl’s health, you may wish to ask him to stop launching himself like a missile on every tackle he makes. I think if we marginalize his game as much as possible, he probably won’t miss a game until he’s 40.

  19. seahawkfanfrom1970s says: Aug 23, 2014 5:25 PM

    I’m not AOK with it, too risky for the reward. Walters looked fearless returning punts. Put him in on the return teams, ETIII is our best defensive player.

  20. thebirdofprey2 says: Aug 23, 2014 5:40 PM

    Troy Brown really?

    Did you just compare the level of play of Earl Thomas to Troy Brown – who is the definition of role player and the exact type of player you would use in that role. Maybe the knowledge got mixed up and you thought it was Tim Brown.

  21. theycallmeyango says: Aug 23, 2014 5:44 PM

    Returning punts is “too risky” but launching himself at anything with a pulse is perfectly fine. Unbelievable.

  22. theycallmeyango says: Aug 23, 2014 5:46 PM

    No I never compared their level of play. Again that would be your misunderstanding

  23. 6ball says: Aug 23, 2014 5:49 PM

    .
    Punt returners are particularly vulnerable to cheap shots.
    .

  24. theycallmeyango says: Aug 23, 2014 5:50 PM

    And “role” players are seldom elected to their clubs hall of fame

  25. seatownballers says: Aug 23, 2014 5:53 PM

    Let Richardson or Michael return punts

  26. icebowler says: Aug 23, 2014 5:56 PM

    He’ll be OK in game #1. The Packers don’t plan on punting the whole game.

  27. “I impacted the game and as an official you never want to do that," Bill Leavy said in reference to Super Bowl XL. "It left me with a lot of sleepless nights and I think about it constantly. I’ll go to my grave wishing that I’d been better.” says: Aug 23, 2014 6:04 PM

    I am against Earl Thomas returning punts. Finding a good safety is harder than finding a punt returner.

  28. “I impacted the game and as an official you never want to do that," Bill Leavy said in reference to Super Bowl XL. "It left me with a lot of sleepless nights and I think about it constantly. I’ll go to my grave wishing that I’d been better.” says: Aug 23, 2014 6:07 PM

    You know what? I’ll return those damn punts.

  29. nosleeptilsb says: Aug 23, 2014 6:39 PM

    I am against monday morning QB’s. Let the coach coach, the owner own, the team play, cheerleaders cheer, vendors beer me, security frisk, cops question, bowels move, stadium shake, DyNASTY be Nasty, chunky soup be chunky, 12’s be themselves, teams hate us, press hate us, other fans hate us, because we are witnessing something historic, Hawk-time,…our-time,…longtime!

  30. FinFan68 says: Aug 23, 2014 6:40 PM

    Wait. “He was caught from behind. By the punter.” What?

  31. upyoursanus says: Aug 23, 2014 6:40 PM

    This is risky move for such a valuable player. If he gets hurt that defense will not be the same.

  32. rainponcho87 says: Aug 23, 2014 6:42 PM

    When you look at major injuries this year and last in the. NFC west, the Seahawks have been pretty fortunate. This seems like they might be pushing it.

  33. codythao35 says: Aug 23, 2014 6:43 PM

    Seahawks are serious about letting Earl go because?

  34. don2074978 says: Aug 23, 2014 6:52 PM

    Enhanced risk of injury See Tyrann Mathieu who probably won’t be returning punts again for the Cads

  35. isaidjoemontegna says: Aug 23, 2014 7:22 PM

    I, for one, think this is a fantastic idea.

  36. wizbanginhumdinger says: Aug 23, 2014 8:06 PM

    icebowler says: Aug 23, 2014 5:56 PM

    “….He’ll be OK in game #1. The Packers don’t plan on punting the whole game…..”

    ___________________________________

    You’re probably right. They would actually have to get the ball to punt,…and you don’t have to punt when you turn the ball over, or when you turn it over on downs because you foolishly try and go for it on 4th down out desperation to get something going…

    The Packers are going to get their butts whooped in convincing fashion,…Rodgers is going to see more turf than a groundskeepers rake. It will take several games for their psyche to recover. It’s going to be the worst start to a season imaginable. Bank on it cheese head.
    ___________________________________

    The statistics on punt returning do not indicate a high probability of injury. Stop acting like a bunch of over protective mothers. It’s the NFL. Folks get hurt. If I hear someone say to keep their best players off of the field because they might get hurt I can’t help but think about the huge amount of irony in such a notion…”We can’t play him,..he’s too good”…

    You have a guy that can put you in great field position,…you use him. Field position is everything. This is how you play the game.

    You can go ahead and second guess the best coach in the game right now. I would personally love to see some more 50+ yd punt returns and obviously Pete Carroll agrees. This is a good thing.

    ET3 will be fine and he’ll do a great job. That’s the most highly probable scenario. How did it affect Tate last year? I imagine he might even see the end zone once or twice. After witnessing the return he had yesterday,…I’m convinced he’s the man for the job.

    Go Hawks!!!

  37. bobnelsonjr says: Aug 23, 2014 8:59 PM

    The Seahawks are gearing up for the Packers and treating it like a playoff game. They have to look for every possible way to attempt to win.

    I don’t think he will be returning punts much after the season opening Packers’ game.

  38. thebirdofprey2 says: Aug 23, 2014 9:00 PM

    Is Tedy Bruschi in that team Hall of Fame too?

  39. everydayimrusselin says: Aug 23, 2014 9:27 PM

    Its! Not! Worth! The! Risk!!!

  40. bornahawker says: Aug 24, 2014 12:46 AM

    Man up 12’s, you know better than to question the powers that be. We have a title and those who brought it here are qualified to decide who starts where.
    Go Hawks!

  41. omeimontis says: Aug 24, 2014 5:21 AM

    If the Seahawks play good defense and force a lot of punts, that means Earl Thomas will have more chances to return them, and more chance to get leveled by a special teams head hunter. Smart, real smart.

  42. GBwomenrhot says: Aug 24, 2014 10:00 AM

    They obviously feel they have a good Safety on the roster when he blows something out returning Punts….DOH!!

  43. bondsncruz says: Aug 24, 2014 2:10 PM

    No self respect person would ever, in a million years, wear a 12th man jersey. It’s Seattle’s version of the pink Red Sox hat for bandwagoning soccer moms.

  44. simonator917 says: Aug 24, 2014 4:40 PM

    NO! ABSOLUTELY NOT!!!!! Pete, if you actually want to come back to the rest of the league in terms of performance then by all means, risk the best safety in the league. If you want to make sure YOU DONT REPETE as Super Bowl champions I can think of no better way.

    Since you’re the former head coach at USC I’m sure you heard of Jason Seehorn, a former Pro Bowl cornerback for the Giants who ruined his career after getting injured returning kicks. Remember Tyrann Mathieu, the Cardinals LEADING TACKLER at the time he was injured returning kicks. Hopefully his career won’t be ruined but he was still lost for the remainder of last season after his injury.

    IT’S NOT WORTH IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Let someone else return punts!

  45. elsupremodeluxe says: Aug 24, 2014 4:58 PM

    Just shows that this team is full of ballers who will do anything they can to help ensure the team wins.

    How can anyone complain about that?

  46. ceehawkfan says: Aug 25, 2014 7:40 PM

    EARL THOMAS = TOTAL PACKAGE

  47. skawh says: Aug 26, 2014 5:10 PM

    Bad – No, DUMB idea!!!!!!!!!!!

  48. skawh says: Aug 26, 2014 5:23 PM

    That’s as bad, or even worse idea, than drafting BOSWORTH instead of BO JACKSON!

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