The first time the Seahawks force the Packers to punt on Thursday night, one of the best defensive players in the NFL won’t leave the field.
Instead, safety Earl Thomas will drop a little deeper than usual and wait to catch the ball. Then run with it.
Coach Pete Carroll made the disclosure to reporters on Monday, with a simple, one-word answer to the question of whether Thomas will return punts.
“Yeah,” Carroll said.
That was it. No elaboration, no follow-up questions regarding the calculated risk of exposing Thomas to a heightened injury risk.
Maybe no explanation or questions are needed. The risk is obvious. And the message may be that the Seahawks have a high level of comfort that, if Thomas is injured, the next man up will get it done.
At the punt return position, the next man up is Richard Sherman.