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Originally published September 8, 2014 at 5:47 PM | Page modified September 9, 2014 at 3:01 PM

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Seahawks sign Josh Thomas to help with depleted defensive secondary

Josh Thomas played for the Panthers last year, and got burn once early by the Seahawks

Seattle Times staff reporter


Seahawks @ San Diego,1:05 p.m., Ch. 13


RENTON — Josh Thomas was an unhappy participant in one of the key plays of the Seahawks’ 2013 season.

Exactly one year later, Thomas got reacquainted with the team under what he considered much better circumstances.

The Seahawks signed Thomas, who spent the past three seasons with the Carolina Panthers, to fill a spot on the roster created when they placed Jeremy Lane on injured reserve with the designation to return.

The designation, which teams can use once each season, means Lane, who reinjured his groin in the third quarter Thursday against the Packers, can come back after eight weeks, in time for a Nov. 9 game against the Giants. Seattle used the return designation last year on left tackle Russell Okung when he injured his toe against the 49ers in the second week.

Thomas was one of five cornerbacks the Seahawks worked out Monday morning, and by the afternoon he was signed to a contract. He then jogged onto the field at the VMAC midway through practice as the newest member of the Legion of Boom.

The last time he had been on a field with the Seahawks came on Sept. 8, 2013, when Thomas was beaten for a 43-yard touchdown pass from Russell Wilson to Jermaine Kearse in the fourth quarter. The touchdown ultimately gave Seattle a 12-7 victory over the Panthers in Carolina in the season opener.

Kearse, he said, simply “came up and got the ball over me.’’

The game was one of six starts Thomas made for the Panthers last season. Five, though, came in the first six games of the season. He was largely a reserve, or inactive, the second half of the season, and was released by Carolina in the cutdown to 53 players on Aug. 30.

Asked what happened with the Panthers, the 5-foot-11, 185-pound Thomas smiled and said, “I’ve closed that chapter.’’

He’ll have a chance to start a new one with the Seahawks, where he could team with Marcus Burley to fill in at nickelback for Lane.

Thomas, though, said he played only outside cornerback with the Panthers.

“But obviously I’m welcome and open to any position that they offer,’’ he said. “I’m familiar with nickel, but I’ve come here not just to assume a nickel position but to assume a need with this team where they will need any help. ... I’m not here to look out for one position or two positions. I’m here to help.’’

Seattle not only is without Lane for eight weeks, but also without Tharold Simon for four or so after he had surgery last week to repair some cartilage in his knee. Simon remains on the 53-man roster, and that timeline means he might be able to return after Seattle’s bye in the fourth week when the Seahawks play at Washington on Oct. 6.

The next two weeks, however, figure to be a challenge for the depth in the secondary as the Seahawks will play at San Diego on Sunday and then meet the Denver Broncos at home on Sept. 21.

San Diego’s Philip Rivers and Denver’s Peyton Manning finished second and third last season in the NFL in passer rating, and the Seahawks figure to again have to go with a lot of nickel defenses in those contests. Seattle was in nickel for 57 of 62 snaps against the Packers last week, with Burley — who was acquired from the Colts on Aug. 30 for a sixth-round choice — playing 25 plays after Lane was sidelined.

Thomas, who played college ball at Buffalo, originally was a fifth-round choice of the Cowboys in 2011. The Cowboys hoped to keep him on the practice squad when he was released in the final cutdown that year. Instead, he was signed to the active roster by the Panthers, playing in 39 games the past three years with 10 starts.

Things had been so hectic Monday that when Thomas met with reporters after practice he had yet to talk to Kearse about the 2013 play.

Of greater concern is quickly acclimating himself to the Seattle way.

“I understand as a player myself, the sky is the limit,’’ he said. “So if they are here doing something right, why not just jump on board, right?’’

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