Seattle Seahawks

Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor full go after winter, spring scares

gbell@thenewstribune.com

Earl Thomas, full go 6 months after broken tibia. "I will be ready for the first game."

Thomas said doctors told him 50 percent chance leg would heal without surgery. "So I took that chance."
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Thomas said doctors told him 50 percent chance leg would heal without surgery. "So I took that chance."

The “Legion of Boom” isn’t busted anymore.

This offseason, Earl Thomas contemplated retirement. Kam Chancellor got “humbled” — his word — by being in a wheelchair.

Tuesday, two of the Seahawks’ three biggest stars in the defensive secondary were back and zooming around the field — as if their scary winters never happened.

“I will be ready for the first game,” Thomas said directly on Tuesday following the three-time All-Pro free safety’s full-go practice on the first day of Seahawks minicamp.

It was six months and nine days after he broke the tibia in his left leg.

Saying he is 80 percent healthy, Thomas joined Chancellor, who had surgery in February on both ankles, as the starting safeties for the 90-minute practice in helmets and no pads at team headquarters.

“Determination. It’s God’s will and determination,” Chancellor said. “We want to be out there. We want to be ready. We did everything we had to do to get ready.

“And we’re still rolling.”

On the first play of team scrimmaging, Thomas sprinted across the field to the sideline to join right cornerback Neiko Thorpe in coverage on a catch by wide receiver Paul Richardson. On the second play, Thomas ran 40 yards across and down the hash marks to catch up to Alex Collins at the end of the running back’s reception and run.

“I’ve still got my explosion,” Thomas said. “My mental game is sharp.

“I didn’t have any target. My goal was just to work my butt off and just to see. Let the chips fall where they may. You know, I’m not a doctor. Most of the time, you feel like the doctor just gives you something (of an estimate). I’m not going to take that. I’m going to push the limits and see where I fall at the end of it.”

Coach Pete Carroll was characteristically pumped.

“He said he’s at 80 percent. Isn’t that awesome?” Carroll said after watching Thomas fly around the field.

“He thinks he’s at 80 percent, and he looks good. ... It’s really been a cool thing to see, because I know he’s been wanting to find out himself.

“He’s in good shape, and he’s making great progress towards (training) camp. ... He’s testing himself to see what he can do. And it’s all good.”

How important is Thomas’ return to health to Seattle’s return to playoffs and perhaps the Super Bowl? This is the most basic measure from last season, when Thomas was missing from the defense for the first time since he joined the team and the NFL in 2010:

▪ Seattle had 10 interceptions and were 8-2-1 in the 11 games in which Thomas played in 2016.

▪ The Seahawks had one interception and were 3-4 in the seven games Thomas missed, including both playoff games.

Tuesday, it was as if Thomas never contemplated retirement the night of the injury, Dec. 4, during Seattle’s home win over Carolina.

“I think it was definitely the shock of the moment,” he said, “especially because I felt I was having one of the best seasons in my career...and then right then it’s gone. You know, this is my foundation, my legs. And just for one of my legs to be broken, I never went through anything like that. Of course I had a shoulder (injury, in January 2015 that he played through), but it’s nothing like my speed.”

How long did it take him to get over the broken leg and realize he would play again and not retire?

“I took a couple trips with the family,” he said of his winter. “Went to Jamaica. Just talking with them. And, you know, talking with myself.

“I couldn’t tell you exactly at what point. It was a little bit of everything. I was just feeling like it wasn’t time.

“I saw Eric Berry get that huge deal ($70 million, with a $20 million signing bonus, from Kansas City in February to make him the NFL’s richest safety). You know, there ain’t never enough of that.

“So, just a lot of things that made me come back.”

Chancellor played through pain for the last two seasons. It affected both ankles, and shot up his legs when he changed direction on the field.

He had bone spurs removed from each ankle in April.

“I had surgery, what, four or five years ago, and had to get it again. … It’s just a part of, I guess, me,” he said. “I had bone spurs in my ankle, and they were kind of like tearing my leg up every time I dorsiflexed.

“But now they’re clean now, and I feel good.”

He was so anxious to get back onto the field, even for relatively meaningless organized team activities and this minicamp, Chancellor had surgeries on both ankles at the same time.

He was in a wheelchair for nine days. The five-time Pro Bowl hitter found life’s most basic needs were a huge, unfamiliar challenge.

“But I was still trying to get up and walk,” he said. “I had to use the restroom.

“Oh, very humbling. I’ve never been in that situation before, in a wheelchair and just not able to do what I want when I want, not able to move how I want. It was very humbling.

“I don’t want to go through that process again.”

He hopes to be going through the contract process soon.

Chancellor turned 29 the same month he was in a wheelchair this spring. He has one year remaining on his deal. It’s worth $6.8 million in base pay and $325,008 in per-week roster bonuses during the 2017 season, with a salary-cap charge of $8,125,008.

He’s wanted a new contract for two years, and infamously held out for two months into the 2015 regular season to get one, only to gain nothing.

Asked Tuesday if the Seahawks have talked to him yet on the team’s intentions of extending his deal beyond 2017, Chancellor said: “Nah, I haven’t.”

When he was asked if this is going to be a difficult contract to get done, Chancellor chuckled and said: “I have no idea. That’s not up to me.”

Carroll said the team wants to get an extension done.

“We would very much like to work something out,” Carroll said. “We are working at it.

“And that’s really all we’ll say.

“But we are working at it, and with every intention of taking care of his business ... it takes a while. Things take a while. And his frame of mind and our frame of mind is in a really good place.

“We are going to work hard to get something done.”

EXTRA POINTS

Pro Bowl DE Michael Bennett participated for the first time this offseason, as expected. Unlike OTAs, this minicamp is mandatory, and Bennett has said how much he doesn’t like to give away his money. … Tyler Lockett ran routes fully and caught one from Russell Wilson on a sharp, 20-yard crossing route. The wide receiver and Pro Bowl kick returner broke his leg on Christmas Eve and needed surgery, so he is behind Thomas in his recovery. Carroll said the team is hopeful Lockett will be ready for the start of training camp at the end of July.

Gregg Bell: @gbellseattle

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