Doug Baldwin first thought of Tre Flowers.
He was asked what players have most stepped up this year as the Seattle Seahawks prepare for a 5:15 p.m. NFC wild-card matchup against the Dallas Cowboys on Saturday.
Specifically, Baldwin was asked of the players he had little idea just before the season started of exactly what they’d bring.
“I love the progression that Tre Flowers has gone through during the course of the season,” Baldwin said. “He’s always had the physical tools. I think it was just a mental part of him getting the confidence necessary for him to be out on an island.”
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A reserved nature can easily be mistaken for a lack of confidence.
Flowers said confidence was never an issue, even though the last time he lined up at cornerback before the Seahawks drafted Flowers, a safety at Oklahoma State, in the fifth round was his senior year at Judson High School in Texas.
Well, actually, he said he once lined up at corner on the last play of a game because Oklahoma State’s defense had just 10 players on the field, but that doesn’t count.
This year Flowers has 67 tackles, three forced fumbles and six pass breakups. And he’ll likely draw plenty of coverage Saturday against Cowboys receiver Amari Cooper.
“This might sound weird, but Day 1,” Flowers said when asked when he first felt comfortable knowing he’d have to play maybe the most difficult position in the NFL at cornerback.
“It’s just the mindset of it. I never once stepped to the line and told myself, ‘I hope he doesn’t go deep.’ I want him to go deep.”
Flowers has started every game he’s played this year, a season after three-time All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman was released and signed with the 49ers.
Actually, the Seahawks drafted the 6-foot-3, 200-pound Flowers to convert him from safety to corner because his size reminded them much of the 6-foot-3, 195-pound Sherman. Sherman, too, was a fifth-round pick.
“When I came here I didn’t really even talk to anybody,” Flowers said. “I was driving myself crazy how bad I wanted it (to contribute) and everything.”
So he frequently reached out to Baldwin.
“Just because he came in as an undrafted free agent, I came in as a fifth-rounder who played safety,” Flowers said. “I had to have my own expectations, no matter what media might have said about me. We had long talks about that.
“He helped mold me into who I am today and who I want to be in the future.”
Now Flowers hopes to help the Seahawks win their first playoff game since their secondary was comprised of the Legion of Boom. And Seattle is still without the last remaining member of that, Earl Thomas, who had two interceptions when the Seahawks beat Dallas, 24-13, in Week 3.
But opposite Shaquill Griffin, Flowers has helped this new-look secondary bloom, even if there’s no more Boom.
“It’s really what you want out of football,” Flowers said. “A lot of people say they want to be great and a lot of people don’t really want to put the work in. Doug actually saw me doing stuff after OTAs and after practices. Like I said, I probably drove myself crazy but it all is working out.”