NEWARK, N.J. — With a video camera strapped to his chest so he could record the spectacle that was Tuesday’s Super Bowl media day, Walter Thurmond explained he wanted to forget the past, enjoy the present and focus only on the near future.
The Seahawks cornerback doesn’t want to talk about the substance abuse suspension that cost him four games and could hurt him during free agency. He says he only has time to think about Sunday’s championship game against the Denver Broncos.
Thurmond, Seattle’s nickleback, stands to spend a great deal of time on the field Sunday as the Broncos spread the field with three and four receivers.
He says he’s up to the challenge.
“My role is not going to be different,” Thurmond said. “I will be fast and physical and disciplined with my footwork. We are ready and very confident.”
Thurmond compares the Broncos receiving corps to the New Orleans Saints and says he’s grateful for an extra week to prepare.
In particular, he’s excited to play against Denver receiver Wes Welker, a player he called out for a hit that injured New England cornerback Aquib Talib in the AFC Championship Game.
The play, a staple of the Broncos offense, called for Welker to run a “rub.” Welker’s assignment was to get in Talib’s way so another Denver receiver, Demaryius Thomas, would have more room to run after the catch.
Welker plowed into Talib, who injured his knee and back on the play. Patriots coach Bill Belichick called the play the worst he’d ever seen. Thurmond said it was “uncalled for.”
“(Welker) had the knowledge of what was coming and the defender is kind of blindsided to who is coming across the field,” Thurmond said. “(Talib) clearly didn’t have a chance to brace himself. It’s an unfortunate situation. It’s something we have to deal with as defenders. I guess we have to be a little more aware.”
Thurmond says he’s watched enough film on the Broncos the last two weeks to identify the formation in which he’d be at risk for a similar collision.
“I’m preparing to be ready for those situations,” he said.
Sunday could prove to be Thurmond’s final game with the Seahawks as the former University of Oregon star will become a free agent. Teams will have to decide if they want to take a chance on a player who is one more substance abuse violation away from a one-year suspension.
“I’m not worried at all. It is out of my control,” Thurmond said. “I’m not going to get into details on it. I’m not worried about what the future is. Everything is going to fall where it is going to fall and I’m just going to worry about the game right now.”
His teammates, who lost twice during his four-game suspension, say Thurmond is an invaluable part of the Legion of Boom secondary. Safety Earl Thomas said Thurmond will be key to containing Peyton Manning and Denver’s prolific offense.
“He (Thurmond) has done a great job of not letting the negative stuff that happened effect his play,” Thomas said. “He has been focused and all in. He is a mentally strong, tough guy.”
LOCKETTE STILL LOOKING TO ROCKET
A bit of a shuffle because of injuries had Ricardo Lockette lineup on the outside in punt coverage against the St. Louis Rams during the final regular-season game.
Off he went. Once clear, Lockette veered into the middle of the field and never stopped accelerating. He launched himself into Rams returner Justin Veltung, who is from Puyallup, whacked him in the head and knocked Veltung from the game.
Somehow, there was no flag.
Another punt. Another clobbering in the NFC Championship Game.
Lockette, arguably the second-fastest player on the Seahawks behind Percy Harvin, was again at full speed. He flew into San Francisco returner LaMichael James. James fumbled and needed medical attention right after while he remained on the field.
Big hits like that can change a game. Since it’s working, Lockette won’t be changing his approach.
“My goal is to get off the line," Lockette said. "Once I get rolling, it’s pretty much a done deal, turning it into a foot race. Once I get maybe five to 10 yards from the returner, you can pretty much read his eyes and his hands. Once his hands get almost up to his face I know the ball is probably going to drop sometime in the next couple seconds.
“So, I just take my shot and hope that it’s on time.”
The groans he hears afterward?
“That’s the best part about it,” Lockette said.
ÉL NO HABLO ESPAÑOL
The popularity of the Super Bowl brings media from several other countries, including Mexico and Japan.
Thursday afternoon, as press availability was winding down, Seahawks strong safety Kam Chancellor was faced with a foe he finally couldn’t overpower: Azteca Deportes.
Chancellor was a good sport and explained he only knows about three Spanish sayings, including hola (hello) and ¿cómo estás? (how are you?). The Azteca Deportes reporter was willing to give him a chance to talk in Spanish on camera, which Chancellor declined with a laugh.
Even for the players, the Super Bowl opens new worlds.