Earl Thomas now has time to go on that cruise he said he wouldn’t mind enjoying.
The All-Pro safety made his wish for this week following Sunday’s 26-20 win over Denver in overtime. On Monday, the Seahawks started a 61/2-day, in-season vacation.
They are on their only bye week of the long regular season.
For the players, it really is a holiday. They get paid as if there is a game, part of their 17-week salary for the regular season. But there is no game — and for the Seahawks, no practices, either, thanks to coach Pete Carroll giving them this entire week and coming weekend off.
They are due back on the practice field in Renton this Monday to prepare for their next gameys, Oct. 6 at Washington.
Asked if he gave any limitations on where the players could go or what they could do during their bye, Carroll gave a deadpanned look and said: “They are going to come back by (this) Monday.”
So, no, the players weren’t exactly tiptoeing away from the Virginia Mason Athletic Center on Monday afternoon. There may or may not have been vapor trails emanating from the freeways around Renton about the time Carroll was starting his weekly press conference the day after Seattle beat Denver in the Super Bowl rematch.
This week the Seahawks (2-1) and Broncos are each getting the earliest byes in the league this season. So are two other NFC West teams — the Rams and Cardinals — plus the Browns and Bengals.
That means the final 13 games of Seattle’s regular season will be without a break. Not ideal, but as Carroll said, “you don’t have a choice” when the bye is.
Kam Chancellor is glad it’s this week. The thudding force at the back of the defense has had long-term pain in his ankle, which Carroll said was “on fire” in the previous week’s loss in San Diego. Chancellor noticeably hobbled through that game while trying to cover Chargers tight end Antonio Gates and others, as the Seahawks allowed 30 points for the first time in 44 regular-season games dating to October 2011.
“It really got in the way of his play,” Carroll said. “Fortunately, he had a great week coming back. (Team trainers) found a couple things that they could do to help him.”
Chancellor looked more like his 2013 self on Sunday. He forced a fumble on the first play from scrimmage against Denver. He almost had an interception, then made a leaping interception of a Peyton Manning pass at the Seattle 13 late in regulation that looked like it would end the game then.
He had a 52-yard return on that — and thought he was going to go to the end zone with it.
“I did. I definitely did, until the hamstrings kicked in,” Chancellor said. “Thought I had it.”
Chancellor’s day is a relief given earlier in the week there was concern. He missed practice Wednesday with an ankle injury. Fox Sports, citing a source, reported late Sunday that the Seahawks were considering surgery on the safety’s ankle that would have sidelined him perhaps to the Thanksgiving night game at the 49ers.
Carroll didn’t specifically answer when asked the validity of that report. He did answer how glad he was to see Chancellor running and hitting and making plays against Denver as he usually does.
“We didn’t have a great outlook going into the week; we weren’t sure,” Carroll said, “but it just turned really quickly on Thursday and fortunately he came flying back.”
Could Chancellor’s ankle be an issue the Seahawks will have to manage all season?
“It might be. We’ll see,” he said. “We managed it really well; maybe we’ll figure something out.”
As for the team having the entire week off until Monday afternoon, Carroll said it’s because the Seahawks know his system and the speed at which he demands they play well enough that he trusts them.
A team that was less accomplished may be having a practice or two with Carroll this week.
“We have done it different ways over time. It really depends on the development of your team, too,” the former coach of Southern California, the Patriots and the Jets said. “If it’s a young team, new team — it depends on the guys that you’re playing with.
“We’ve been around our football for some time now. Our guys know what’s going on. I’m not worried at all about us losing a connection with the notebook and all that kind of time. With a team that you’re just developing, you need to take advantage of all of those chances so we would come back maybe on a Thursday or something to get back at it.
“But most importantly, we have found with our team that we need to keep them fast and keep them fresh and rested.”
Yes, we saw in San Diego two weeks ago what a slower Seahawks team looks like. And it wasn’t pretty.
We saw against Denver the return of that speed — and Seattle got its 32nd win in 37 games.
“We played really hard on defense,” Carroll said. “I was anxious to see if we would play and look like we played back in the Super Bowl against these guys, as far as breaking on the ball and running and hitting. I thought we did better. I really thought that we played routes better and some things that they threw at us. The perimeter screen game, that’s really phenomenal for them, we just really eliminated it.
“We weren’t happy with what we did the week before, and we came roaring right back at them against a fantastic offense.”
So, feet up, Seahawks!
Why not go on a cruise?
Russell Okung is fine, Carroll said. The coach described how the starting left tackle was so scared initially Sunday while he was motionless on the CenturyLink Field turf, fearing he had a major injury to his arm-shoulder area, that Okung was praying as trainers and a doctor attended to him. But all it turned out to be was a shoulder strain. Okung missed a handful of plays and then returned and finished the game. “His prayers were answered,” Carroll said. … CB Tharold Simon, who was going to be the fill-in nickel back for Jeremy Lane (groin) until he had minor knee surgery three weeks ago, ran Monday for the first time since the procedure. Carroll said it’s still to be determined if Simon will practice next week. … Carroll said Lane, on the team’s injured-reserve list with a designation to return after eight weeks, is on track to return to practice as early as Oct. 22. That IR-to-return designation allows players on it to return to practice after six weeks from the day they were placed on it, and to return to games in eight weeks. The earliest Lane can play in Nov. 9 against the New York Giants.