Seahawks Insider Blog

Coordinator Kris Richard believes Earl Thomas “absolutely” will return to play in his defense in 2017

Earl Thomas is carted into the tunnel at CenturyLink Field Sunday night after breaking his left tibia in a collision with fellow Seahawks safety Kam Chancellor. The season-ending injury came in the second quarter of the win over Carolina.
Earl Thomas is carted into the tunnel at CenturyLink Field Sunday night after breaking his left tibia in a collision with fellow Seahawks safety Kam Chancellor. The season-ending injury came in the second quarter of the win over Carolina. jbessex@gateline.com

RENTON Count Earl Thomas’ former position coach and current defensive coordinator among the multiple Seahawks who think the All-Pro safety will play again next season after recovering from a broken leg.

“Absolutely. Absolutely!” Kris Richard said following the Seahawks’ practice Thursday for Sunday’s game at Green Bay. “He loves to play this game.

“There’s no doubt.”

Seattle will be without Thomas for the second time in the 120 games since he became a Seahawk in 2010. Steven Terrell will start for him at free safety.

Thomas made the possibility he could retire an issue Sunday night in the moments after he broke his tibia. The injury came when teammate Kam Chancellor’s knee slammed into Thomas’ shin while they tried to intercept a pass from Carolina’s Cam Newton. Thomas posted this on his Twitter feed while the Seahawks’ 40-7 win was not even half over:

He reinforced that retirement thought in a text message to ESPN’s Ed Werder: “I'm taking it one day at a time. I still feel the same way I felt (Sunday) night.”

The Seahawks put Thomas on the injured-reserve list Tuesday, ending his season.

Richard was Thomas’ defensive-backs coach from 2012 through ‘14. The Seahawks promoted Richard to become the league’s youngest defensive coordinator at age 35, for the 2015 season.

“Of course, we are all disappointed,” Richard said of the broken shin. “I know he is, that he’s not getting the chance to do what he loves to do.

“But I certainly hope so. Because the game is better with him out there playing.”

This week, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said Thomas’ recovery will be months, not weeks, but was not an injury that threatens to end his career.

Thomas’ fellow three-time All-Pro in the Seattle secondary doesn’t think his 27-year-old teammate is retiring, either

Asked Wednesday if he expects Thomas to come back to play in 2017, Richard Sherman said: “Yeah, yeah. I expect him to come back.”

Carroll has not put an exact timeline on Thomas’ recovery, and Wednesday again said he wasn’t sure if the star needed surgery. ESPN reported Thomas texted Werder that he doesn’t need surgery and is having his leg immobilized to try natural healing.

Sherman mentioned, in passing, “six months” while talking about Thomas’ recovery.

“There are not a lot of stories out there, and that’s a big one. So they are going to talk about that until they can’t talk about it anymore,” Sherman said of Thomas possibly retiring.

“He’s just been hanging out. He was in good spirits the last time I talked to him.”

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