Although the dislocated middle finger of his left hand looked gnarled and nasty, Seattle cornerback Tharold Simon said he wasn’t worried about it.
He’d played his best game as a pro, and snatched his first career interception off Philadelphia’s Mark Sanchez in the fourth quarter to help shut off the Eagles in a 24-14 Seattle win on Sunday.
So, he said, he wasn’t going to let a finger joint spoil his day.
Simon showed this sort of promise when he was drafted in the fifth round of the 2013 draft out of LSU. But injuries have limited him to just six games in two seasons.
“It was a real good game,” Simon said. “I thought, from start to finish, I felt like I played good and it was due time for an interceptions. I’ve gotten my hands on a few but couldn’t bring them in.”
At 6-foot-2, Simon has the size the Seahawks like at corner. Simon has done so well at the outside corner that he’s moved to that spot in the nickel defense while starting right corner Byron Maxwell slips over to the inside corner.
“I’m almost there,” Simon said of his feeling comfortable with the scheme. “I go out and practice every day, and we practice real hard on our craft.”
Maxwell, Richard Sherman and the rest of the veteran secondary have served as mentors as Simon has polished his skills.
“Those guys stay on me about simple things,” Simon said. “If they don’t see me drinking enough Gatorade, they’re on me — hydrate, hydrate. That’s what I love about them — they’re like my big brothers.”
Simon has mostly been noticed by piling up penalties, including four against San Francisco.
“I don’t like it at all,” he said of his infractions. “Coming from college, I probably had two or three penalties in three years in college. They just emphasize more stuff here and I have to get away from some of the stuff I do. Most of the penalties are from not trusting yourself, simple stuff.”
He drew a penalty on a punt return on Sunday, he said, for “dog-hounding” a coverage man. “He couldn’t get off the jam and I kind of accidentally put him to the ground.”
Sherman, particularly, has taken interest in Simon’s development.
“As I told you before, Tharold Simon is going to be a great player in this league,” Sherman said. “He’s further along than I was. He’s going to be a fun player to watch, and I’m excited for him.”
Coach Pete Carroll noted Simon’s efforts, as well as other young players, including defensive tackle Jordan Hill, who finished with four tackles, two for losses, and a sack.
“I love when those guys can contribute like that,” Carroll said. “We’re playing these guys like regulars. We hoped to get to the second half of the season, and the guys we’ve been kind of nurturing along now become regulars. So Tharold makes a big play today, and we see Jordan Hill get a sack and some pressures — he had a couple nice tackles in the backfield as well. That’s fantastic for us that those guys are able to contribute.”