Ailing shoulder may force Earl Thomas to rely on teammates more
The Seahawks’ All-Pro safety still plans to play “fearless” against the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLIX.
Seattle Times staff reporter
PHOENIX — In dealing with what he says is “my first major injury’’ Seahawks safety Earl Thomas plans to look into the future and draw on his past.
Thomas suffered a dislocated shoulder in the second quarter of the NFC Championship Game on Jan. 18 when tackling Green Bay Packers receiver Randall Cobb.
On Sunday, he discussed the injury for the first time when he met the media as the Seahawks arrived here to begin preparations for Super Bowl XLIX.
Thomas said there is no way he will miss the game, continuing what will be a streak of 90 consecutive starts since entering the NFL in 2010, including playoff games.
But he also admitted it will be far from a normal game as he plays through the injury — he said he doesn’t know if he will need offseason surgery.
Thomas, who turned 25 in May, said playing with the ailing shoulder will give him a good peek at how he might have to play years down the road, when he might have lost a step or two.
Thomas said the injury will be “learning lessons for me’’ for “when I get older in my career and I learn to play with more focus and I can’t do what I want to do as far as creativity-wise.’’
He answered a question about New England’s running game during his 11-minute session on the podium by offering that “with me with this shoulder I better have a tackling plan.’’
He also said he might have to rely on his teammates more.
“My mind-set is I have an opportunity to really trust my teammates,’’ he said. “This is the first game I’m going to have to trust them because of my injury. So I really, really, really trust my teammates, and that’s what I’m banking on, my teammates doing what they need to do and I need to come through myself.’’
Thomas sat out for four plays when he was taken to the locker room to be examined after the shoulder had been popped back in place while he was on the field.
Asked about returning and then almost immediately making a tackle of Eddie Lacy in the third quarter, Thomas dipped back to his childhood days in Orange, Texas.
“Ever since I was a little kid, every time I got hurt, I always came back in the game,’’ he said. “I remember I played third base on my all-star baseball team and it was a weird ground ball hit and it hit me in the mouth, and I had braces at the time so my lip got stuck to my braces. I had to go to the emergency room and my dad said, ‘You want to play?’ And I was like, ‘Of course.’ So this is me. I love competing.’’
Thomas sat out practices Wednesday and Thursday but returned on a limited basis Friday and could remain limited in practices this week. Because he was limited he was listed as questionable when the team filed a league-required status report Friday.
But Thomas, named first team All-Pro each of the past three years, said that limited is the last thing he expects to be on Super Bowl Sunday.
“When I come alive nothing is limited,’’ he said. “I’ll still play fearless, throw my body around, and let whatever happens, happens.’’