RENTON — Richard Sherman swapped his helmet for a Seattle Seahawks baseball cap he wore backward.
Sherman did not practice during the Seattle Seahawks’ 10th and final organized team activity (OTA) Thursday. That did not mute him, however.
The Pro Bowl cornerback stood on the left side of the practice field — typically the section he mans during games — and shouted instructions to his replacement for the day, Tharold Simon.
The rangy Simon — who, like Sherman, is listed at 6-foot-3 — starred Thursday. He made two interceptions, one on a deep ball up the sideline, the other a leaping snag in the end zone.
Breaking into a secondary with Sherman, Byron Maxwell and Jeremy Lane (nickelback) as the primary corners will be difficult for Simon. At this point, he’s pleased to simply be practicing.
His most recent of two foot surgeries was in February. Last year, he had surgery for a stress fracture in his right foot. A bone he broke while going up stairs had to be fixed four months ago. Simon said he’s been back to normal for about a month.
With sweat pouring from his temples and a southern drawl dripping from his words, the Eunice, Louisiana, native said he couldn’t wait to play again.
“I’ve been hungry since last season, watching those guys out there having fun, competing every day,” Simon said. “It just makes you want to get out there and compete with them and have fun.”
There is no rush with Simon. After being drafted in the fifth round in 2013 out of LSU, he’s under the terms of a standard rookie contract. He can’t become an unrestricted free agent until 2017.
That can’t be said about Maxwell. The likely starter on the right side is in the last year of his contract. As the Seahawks continue to fight the salary cap after providing large extensions for Sherman and Earl Thomas, maintaining cheap talent is paramount.
They have that now in Maxwell and Simon, youngsters rounding out the Legion of Boom. If Maxwell departs after the season, it will become Simon’s turn to step in.
At this point, he’s working his way toward camp after hardly playing since draft day.
“Every day I go home, I wait for the next day,” Simon said. “If it’s Friday, I’m like, ‘Man, I can’t wait for Monday to get back and compete with these guys.’ It’s a fun group of guys. You see, we make plays and the older guys come out there and they pump you up even more.”
MEBANE ADJUSTING WITHOUT BEST FRIEND
Tagging along Wednesday at Safeco Field with Cliff Avril, who was there to throw out the first pitch before the Seattle Mariners’ game against the New York Yankees, was Brandon Mebane.
Mebane said his offseason hasn’t been normal, though nothing too crazy has happened since winning the Super Bowl.
But, there have been two large events for him: His daughter was born April 24, and his best friend, Red Bryant, was released by the Seahawks.
Mebane and Bryant did everything together. They roamed around the locker room together, had lockers next to each other, lounged in the recliners together. There’s Mebane, there’s Bryant. There’s Bryant, there’s Mebane.
“Red is my best friend,” Mebane said Wednesday.
So, when the Seahawks cut Bryant on Feb. 28, it made for a phone call between the two friends often filled with silence.
“We were just kind of like on the phone, like, ‘Man is that real? Is that for real?’” Mebane said. “You know how this business is. That’s just how it is. Like I said, we’re always going to be friends.”
The Seahawks’ underrated nose tackle said the jolt that made him realize how the NFL worked came when Seattle cut Rocky Bernard, who served as something of a mentor to Mebane (Mebane picked up his angled pre-snap stance from Bernard and Chuck Darby).
“When I see it happen with him, it was kind of like, ‘Whoa, this is for real,’” Mebane said. “I wasn’t really close with anybody like Red. I’m close with a lot of the guys on the team, but me and Red was like brothers. It’s all good. We’re always going to be friends.”
A couple upsides from Mebane’s point of view: Bryant signing with the Jacksonville Jaguars puts Bryant close to Disney World, which he and Mebane both enjoy. Mebane said Bryant’s house is big enough to have Mebane, his wife and daughter in for a visit.
Second, signing with Jacksonville kept Bryant in the league.
“He’s not out of football, didn’t have to retire,” Mebane said. “The good thing is he’s still playing, he’s still around.”