Trying to anticipate a Seahawk who might step from obscurity during the impending training camp, it was easy to think back to the final OTA practice this spring when second-year cornerback Tharold Simon came down with impressive interceptions of passes thrown by Russell Wilson and Tarvaris Jackson.
He may have to wait for a chance to see much action in the Legion of Boom, but he certainly qualifies as a Baby Boomer.
The one that he picked in the end zone was in traffic, but he very effectively tracked and high-pointed the ball and made the catch. Richard Sherman was getting the day off, opening the way for the recently rehabbed Simon to see so much action. When Simon came down with the ball, Sherman raced from the sidelines -- somewhat deliriously -- to congratulate him for the big play.
Sherman had taken on Simon as a personal project that practice, coaching him every snap. Simon responded with the kind of play that the Hawk staff saw from him when he was healthy at LSU. A stress fracture in his foot sidelined him, initially, his rookie season, before he broke another bone in his foot later.
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They were patient with him, though, and always included him when they talked about young secondary prospects (ala Walter Thurmond as he recovered from early injuries). It was only this spring that he returned to health and speed. And that OTA practice was really the first time that he made a conspicuous display of his athleticism.
At 6-3, 202, he fits the mold. Not just in the measurables, but the attitude, as well. I remember one play when he first got to Seattle as a rookie, in one of the few practices he participated in before being shut down. He was in press coverage and absolutely decked one of the bigger young receivers to his side. It was a little flagrant (early Brandon Browner style), but it was certainly emphatic. The scouting report on him out of college that his weakness was using his hands at the line of scrimmage. That play refuted that criticism.
Even with Browner and Thurmond gone, Simon has some talented corners stacked ahead of him. Sherman’s the best in the game, and the starter on the right side, Byron Maxwell, finished last season as another player on the threshold of stardom. With opponents trying to avoid Sherman down the stretch, they tested Maxwell, who responded with four interceptions in the final four regular-season games.
In one minicamp practices this spring, Maxwell made one of the most eye-catching plays of the day with a leaping, twisting, one-handed interception. And as it stands, Jeremy Lane has the advantage at inside corner in the nickel.
If he can stay healthy, Simon will enough time to refine his game and show what he can do during training camp and the preseason. And if he sustains the kind of play he showed in OTAs, he could be one of the team’s rising young stars.