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Earl Thomas will return punts for Seahawks

Thomas Getty Images

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.

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77 Responses to “Earl Thomas will return punts for Seahawks”
  1. thenoblebard93 says: Sep 1, 2014 8:49 PM

    Just go ahead and put your best defensive player out there to take a potshot.

    Yup.

    Good thinking.

  2. facebookuser111 says: Sep 1, 2014 8:53 PM

    Except didn’t the just re-sign Bryan Walters today?

  3. denko310 says: Sep 1, 2014 8:53 PM

    Stupid to risk injury. He’s the best player on that team.

  4. staffordsyear says: Sep 1, 2014 8:54 PM

    Hope he don’t get injured, Fantasy owners will be livid.

  5. beaublanco says: Sep 1, 2014 8:55 PM

    Two words: Jason Sehorn

  6. jimthebuilder27 says: Sep 1, 2014 8:58 PM

    Hope he doesn’t get hurt. This guy is a stud, probably the best safety in football. I hope that the man my Packers drafted, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix is this good!

  7. piratefreedom says: Sep 1, 2014 8:58 PM

    Why?
    Deon Sanders had crazy speed and broke a lot of big returns so it made some sense to risk your best DB in the kicking game with him.
    Maybe Thomas really has got the moves to make the risk worth while,
    I didn’t need another reason to be interested in and excited about Thursday’s game but here is another one anyway!

  8. icebowler says: Sep 1, 2014 8:58 PM

    It just shows how worried thy are about losing their first game.

  9. 12thlegion says: Sep 1, 2014 8:58 PM

    All these haters sound like the same ones who said RW was “too small” or that our “WR’s are pedestrian” or that Kam was “too big to cover in the slot”. HILARIOUS.

  10. avr29 says: Sep 1, 2014 9:00 PM

    Do those saying it’s stupid to allow ET to return punts, this is all about “way to” and competition. Obviously the team trusts him not to put himself in a position to get hurt. It’s also obvious that ET wants it. Multiple starters play on special teams for Seattle. The best guy plays, period.

  11. namaths5thofwhiskey says: Sep 1, 2014 9:01 PM

    stupid….

  12. whodat5150 says: Sep 1, 2014 9:01 PM

    Shell game; don’t fall for the okey doke!

  13. alberthaynesworth says: Sep 1, 2014 9:03 PM

    He will fine. God I swear goodell has not only pussified the nfl, but it’s fan base as well. It wasn’t long ago that teams would deploy their best player on punt returns on a regular basis. A huge punt return changes games and not enough teams take risks like this. It’s old school and I like it and I hate the seahawks.

  14. thebirdofprey2 says: Sep 1, 2014 9:04 PM

    Oh Green Bay fans, he returned them in the preseason the only worry is that this massacre on Thursday doesn’t cause too many people to change their channels too early.
    This is not 2011 where we beat you with Wilson as a rookie and if you thought San Fran bullied your team. Wait until you see what happens at Century Link

  15. winninaintsinnin says: Sep 1, 2014 9:05 PM

    Must admit, it makes me a bit nervous.

  16. mdd913 says: Sep 1, 2014 9:06 PM

    I didn’t think anything could make that Percy Harvin contract look worse, but this is probably it.

  17. arrowhead816 says: Sep 1, 2014 9:06 PM

    Have a rookie heat seeking missile target his knees

  18. crownofthehelmet says: Sep 1, 2014 9:13 PM

    He will be very, very busy Thursday night.

  19. trollhammer20 says: Sep 1, 2014 9:14 PM

    Thomas (as well as other important starters) plays on defensive special teams, has pretty much ever since he arrived, never heard anyone say anything about it.

  20. legionofboom88 says: Sep 1, 2014 9:15 PM

    This doesn’t really give the other teams a chance… I’m sure the NFL will come up with some violation of the rules…

  21. codythao35 says: Sep 1, 2014 9:15 PM

    Green Bay needs have Aaron Rodgers return punt and TT play defense if they want to win.

  22. jrebar88 says: Sep 1, 2014 9:23 PM

    Soon to be the next Percy Harvin…overpaid, injury prone, starter, kick returner.

  23. dalcow4 says: Sep 1, 2014 9:24 PM

    Fantastic idea.

    Sincerely,
    Everyone else in the NFC.

  24. jdrewsy says: Sep 1, 2014 9:25 PM

    Beware of the Fire Breathing Dragon that is Earl Thomas!!!!

    Go Hawks!

  25. osoviejo says: Sep 1, 2014 9:25 PM

    You don’t create a great team by limiting your great players.

    I think it’s interesting that Percy Harvin ($12m/year) is coming off of two major injuries and no one said jack about him returning kickoffs. Richard Sherman ($12m/year) also plays special teams.

    But everyone is fretting over the human missile?

    It’s football. Let’s play.

  26. kd75 says: Sep 1, 2014 9:26 PM

    Jason Sehorn was the best CB in the NFL for like 8 weeks. Shut down everyone and made one of the best INTs you will ever see for a TD.

    Then he returned a kick and that was a career.

  27. ilovefoolsball says: Sep 1, 2014 9:30 PM

    Wow that is a big risk to take with one of your best players. I know that most of the time he will be waving fair catch but still all it takes is one hit to go from looking brilliant to a dunce.

  28. The Steelers are Marching and the world cowers. The three rivers were made from your tears and we build boats. We build lots of boats. We walk beside pristine trophy cases and engraved gold. They say it's lonely at the top, but we sure like the view. says: Sep 1, 2014 9:35 PM

    LOLLOL

  29. justafan2014 says: Sep 1, 2014 9:41 PM

    Isn’t that Percy’s job?

  30. ariani1985 says: Sep 1, 2014 9:43 PM

    Pathetic packers down by 14 in 1st quarter.

  31. justafan2014 says: Sep 1, 2014 9:43 PM

    … Don’t confuse my response.. Best player has to play position regardless of risk. Fear, will force inept players to have positions, reducing the overall product. We love football, not players. This is not the nba. Next!

  32. thegronk87 says: Sep 1, 2014 9:45 PM

    I hope he doesn’t turn into Jason Sehorn

  33. jacobmcbride1 says: Sep 1, 2014 9:46 PM

    Possibly the best defensive player in the NFL returning punts? I w can not get on board with this

  34. beerbratscheese says: Sep 1, 2014 10:00 PM

    Who cares? The Packers are going to score on every possession anyways, so who returns punts isn’t going to make a bit of difference.

  35. qdog112 says: Sep 1, 2014 10:01 PM

    Walters will end up doing after the game gets going. GB will have to punt more than a few times that night.

    Too bad they had to drop Bates, but Walters will probably be the PR of record.

  36. kaeptaincrunch says: Sep 1, 2014 10:01 PM

    Why not put Percy Harvin back there? Who’s a bigger loss if one goes down, Thomas or Harvin?

  37. jshawaii22 says: Sep 1, 2014 10:03 PM

    And Percy returns KO’s. That’s why we will have the #1 rated special teams again. The Seahawks have the best and play the best.

    Oh, and he asked to do it when Tate was traded.

    js

  38. bert1913 says: Sep 1, 2014 10:10 PM

    Pete Carroll doesn’t worry about “what ifs” he’ll put his best players on the field that will help the team win games

  39. beastmode5150 says: Sep 1, 2014 10:11 PM

    Guys that think punt returners get hurt, go ahead and search and let us all know the last time it happened, we’ll wait.

  40. 5to46hawkfan says: Sep 1, 2014 10:27 PM

    Yeah baby!!!!! GO HAWKS!!!

  41. byzr says: Sep 1, 2014 10:33 PM

    to bad the Pack won’t be punting any on thursday

  42. jjeagle says: Sep 1, 2014 10:43 PM

    all of us eagles fans cry in union when we hear “earl thomas”…..oh how Andy messed up to take brandon graham instead of earl thomas…

  43. pftpoetsboyfriend says: Sep 1, 2014 10:45 PM

    Simultaneous catch goes to the best team on the field, period.

  44. thefiesty1 says: Sep 1, 2014 10:52 PM

    Waste of talent. Should put Sherman in to shut him up.

  45. erock27 says: Sep 1, 2014 10:56 PM

    Better than putting percy harvin out there . Cuz we know he’ll wind up getting injured eventually

  46. terremotinho says: Sep 1, 2014 11:07 PM

    Packers won’t have to punt – score on every drive except for late game kneel-downs.

  47. snoqualmieterry says: Sep 1, 2014 11:20 PM

    Stupid decision. Legion of boom will be laughable without Earl.

  48. dirtyhelmet says: Sep 1, 2014 11:21 PM

    He’s going to be a busy guy come Thursday.

  49. mkelly534 says: Sep 1, 2014 11:28 PM

    They are just asking to have a team deliberately go after Thomas to get the best defender off the field. Too much of a risk and too little of a reward

  50. hawkstradamus says: Sep 1, 2014 11:28 PM

    Under Pete we have had exactly zero injuries at the punt returner position.

  51. lionsnati0n says: Sep 1, 2014 11:36 PM

    Never understood why coaches wouldn’t just put the most worthless player on the team with the most speed back there.

  52. nfl4days says: Sep 1, 2014 11:39 PM

    Deion sanders ran a 4.2. Earl runs a 4.4. Its stupid to risk the best FS in the game on special teams.

  53. lionsnati0n says: Sep 1, 2014 11:39 PM

    I just think it’s funny theres a new dominate CB each year. Seems like the elite have the shortest span of greatness. And Russell Wilson to me is a bottom dweller qb, seemed like a Ravens championship that just hit a lucky spell at the right time. Personally I thought Browner was a beast.

  54. FeedtheOldtotheYoung says: Sep 1, 2014 11:41 PM

    I would say it’s a dumb move, but I’m not coming off of a beat-down of a Peyton Manning led team that forced the NFL to change the rules.

  55. praetorian12 says: Sep 1, 2014 11:51 PM

    The best team in the NFL wants the best players on the team to play as much as possible. Worked last year…

  56. arrowtoyourknee says: Sep 1, 2014 11:54 PM

    This will be the one time I root for the seahawks, only because the Packers suck just a little bit more.

  57. cribbage12 says: Sep 2, 2014 12:15 AM

    Unimportant decision for the Seahawks this week as GB rolls into Seattle and puts a pounding on the Hawks that’ll leave every NFL fan thinking Holy Crap! ET is lucky……he’ll field one punt for a late fair catch as the Packers punter is the least busy player on the field. Packers 31, Seahawks 13. He should worry about week 2.

  58. palatypus says: Sep 2, 2014 12:28 AM

    Nobody ever complained when Ed Reed was doing this for the Ravens.

  59. cardslifer says: Sep 2, 2014 12:38 AM

    Yeah, the best players play, but I don’t think they need to be putting this guy in harms way. One of the best players in the NFL, and is definitely the lynchpin of no doubt best defense in the league. Sufficient safeties are hard to find, why even risk getting a superb one injured.

    Sherman has the mouth, but ET has the skills. Lose him, Russell Wilson better morph into a true passer to win games.

  60. bornahawker says: Sep 2, 2014 12:44 AM

    THE BEST PLAYERS PLAY,PERIOD. LOOK AT THE SILVER TROPHY AT THE VMAC. HOW THE HELL DO YOU THINK THAT HAPPENED?
    GO HAWKS!
    REPEAT BABY!

  61. justintuckrule says: Sep 2, 2014 1:09 AM

    Dumb. Especially considering I think Carroll coached the jets the first time the giants put all pro sehorn back to return a kick against him and he tore his knee. Was never the same.

  62. zhawk12 says: Sep 2, 2014 2:12 AM

    Kenny Easley was a stud All-Pro Seahawk safety back in the 80s who volunteered to return punts.

    Easley suffered a nasty ankle injury returning a punt and was never the same again.

    Watch out what you wish for.

  63. shortfatbald1 says: Sep 2, 2014 2:49 AM

    Dumb…Dumb…Dumb…

    It’s like using Russell Wilson to return punts. Geez

    They just resigned Bryan Walters, use him!

    Go Hawks!!

  64. RegisHawk says: Sep 2, 2014 6:14 AM

    He and Sherm are out there on both punt teams already.

  65. bullcharger says: Sep 2, 2014 6:40 AM

    Worried that Thursday will be a flag fest and Seattle will get jobbed. The whole reason the contact rules are being enforced so strictly is because of Seattle and SF against elite QBs. Rodgers may be hard to stop.

  66. schmokes says: Sep 2, 2014 7:22 AM

    I’m not a Seahawks fan, but why wouldn’t you have Harvin returning punts? I’d get the ball in that guys hands anyway I could.

  67. cornerstone2001 says: Sep 2, 2014 7:34 AM

    Cant wait to see what happens when the shehawks start losing again. The noise will be deafening at Century Link as all the new fans jump off the bandwagon

  68. nosleeptilsb says: Sep 2, 2014 7:44 AM

    Seahawks need to start wearing capes, nothing but Superheros on the team!

  69. noladat says: Sep 2, 2014 8:04 AM

    Stupid. He is the best player on the whole friggn team. He is the player they can’t live without. He is the manning or Brees of that team.That d is only good because of his range and smarts.

  70. adderal says: Sep 2, 2014 8:47 AM

    Doesn’t make since to me with a weapon like Harvin but its not like they have done a lot wrong the last two years football wise.

    I think this year for them goes the way of most defending champions over the last decade. Start out on fire but with noticeable holes popping up, then due to injury or whatever they are out of it by the end of the year. Don’t worry to much though I’m often wrong about that particular team.

  71. voiceofrealism says: Sep 2, 2014 9:23 AM

    Nice, a couple of head shots and their defense is decimated.

  72. baddegg says: Sep 2, 2014 10:36 AM

    When you see stuff like this, you just get the sense that Pete Carroll is reading his own press and has to make sure everyone knows that he’s different, an innovator…he’s gonna be a maverick and put his best player back to return kicks.

    But sometimes being a maverick isn’t the smartest play. Unless Earl Thomas is gonna return kicks for TDs like Devon Hester, the reward is probably not worth the risk. Even if he gets you 3-5 more yards on average than the next guy (and that’s probably more the reality), then those extra yards are probably not worth the risk of injury, of wearing him down, etc.

    This is what happens when you have to be “the smartest guy in the room”…you do stupid things.

  73. dkalev says: Sep 2, 2014 10:50 AM

    Did nobody learn from Jason seahorn? Going from being the best corner in the league one year, to blowing out your knee returning a punt and being forced to be a mediocre at best safety the rest of your career?

  74. jayhawk777 says: Sep 2, 2014 11:17 AM

    Kenny Easley is my favorite Hawk of all time and NEVER broke an ankle or anything when he returned punts while earning NFL Defensive player of the year with 10 interceptions and numerous decleaters.

    Thomas and kam play special teams. Earl wants to return punts and anyone can find a guy getting injured at any position.

    Hawks are becoming more explosive on all 3 areas of ball.

    Btw, it was Curt Warner who injured himself against the Browns on a jump cut. Not Easley.

  75. vancouversportsbro says: Sep 2, 2014 11:24 AM

    Not only is he the best player on the d, he didn’t even look good returning punts in preseason. Come on Pete

  76. simonator917 says: Sep 2, 2014 5:05 PM

    Dear Pete, I’ll always be a big fan of yours for what down here in SoCal at USC. That being said, “ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR MIND?” Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor are the reasons your cornerbacks can play such tight man-to-man coverage. You lose him, and . . .

    Oh well, I was predicting the Pats over the Saints in the Super Bowl, anyway. Thanks for helping make my prediction come true.

  77. ceehawkfan says: Sep 4, 2014 2:35 AM

    I like Pete Carroll and here’s why. He’s not afraid to do what it takes to just win. Yea it’s a risk, but he doesn’t hold anything back. If something were to happen (god forbid) to Thomas we still have depth in the backfield that he’s not afraid to put back there. Wish he was coach when we had Hasselbeck/Wallace…he wouldn’t have been afraid to put Seneca in at WR!!…which Mike should have done!

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