Seattle Seahawks

Panthers rookie starting LB Shaq Thompson returns to “second home”

Carolina linebacker Shaq Thompson (54) pressures the Houston quarterback earlier this season. Thompson, who starred for three years at the University of Washington, said he is excited to face off with Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch on Sunday.
Carolina linebacker Shaq Thompson (54) pressures the Houston quarterback earlier this season. Thompson, who starred for three years at the University of Washington, said he is excited to face off with Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch on Sunday. The Associated Press

Though still a rookie, Shaq Thompson is already in a select group of, oh, about one.

Thompson may be the only foe in the NFL who looks forward to facing — and potentially tackling — Marshawn Lynch.

“It’s going to be big,” said the brother of former University of California cornerback Syd’Quan Thompson, Lynch’s college teammate in 2006. “I’ve been watching Marshawn since he played at Cal with my brother. Going to the games, I really liked him as a running back when he was at Cal.

“Still a big fan of him. It’s going to be fun playing against him. He’s a great running back. So it will be a great time.”

Lynch is officially listed as questionable but Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said his team is counting on him returning Sunday from a strained hamstring that caused him to miss the past two games. Lynch is returning to start for the Seahawks (2-3) against Thompson and the Carolina Panthers (4-0) at CenturyLink Field.

Thompson is returning to Seattle, where he starred at outside linebacker, defensive back and even running back at Washington. After then-UW coach Steve Sarkisian and defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox moved him from high-school star safety at Grant High in Sacramento, California, to Huskies outside linebacker in 2012, Thompson took off. He became UW’s do-it-all athlete and Carolina’s 25th pick in May’s draft.

Five months later he’s entrenched as the Panthers’ starting strong-side linebacker. Sunday he will be guarding Seahawks tight end Jimmy Graham on some downs, chasing and perhaps spying quarterback Russell Wilson on others.

It’s the game of Thompson’s 21-year-old life so far.

“I can’t wait. It’s a second home, been there for three years. Loved it in Seattle,” said Thompson, who had to turn down endless UW ticket requests this week. “I can’t wait to play in front of some of Husky nation, and it will just be a great homecoming.”

COLEMAN RELEASED FROM JAIL, STILL SUSPENDED

Seahawks fullback Derrick Coleman left King County jail just before 4 p.m. Friday, according to an email from the jail. He’d been held there since 1:20 a.m. Thursday while Bellevue police began its investigation of a two-car crash Wednesday evening that has Coleman facing charges of felony vehicle assault and felony hit-and-run.

Coleman remains suspended indefinitely by the Seahawks because they “don’t know anything,” coach Pete Carroll said.

“First off we haven’t talked to him and seen him at all, and can’t wait for him to get out. Hopefully we can talk to him (Saturday),” Carroll said Friday. “It was a serious accident, and there are some serious issues there. We’re concerned for everybody’s health, and we’ll make sure that’s the first thing that we’ll take a look at.

“Other than that, it’s not really about the game right now. We need to see if Derrick’s OK, see what we can do to support him.”

The King County prosecutor’s office issued a statement Friday saying it expects the Bellevue Police Department’s investigation into the crash to last at least a month while full toxicology reports come back.

Officers responding to the crash of Coleman’s Dodge Ram pickup truck in Bellevue on Wednesday evening found a Honda Civic upside down on a retaining wall. The Honda driver was hospitalized with “serious but not life-threatening injuries,” Bellevue Police Chief Steve Mylett said Thursday.

Mylett said “there was enough evidence there to lead us to suspect that perhaps drugs or alcohol could have been involved” with Coleman’s role in the crash. His truck allegedly struck the Honda from behind “at a high rate of speed” on a 35-mile-per-hour street, Mylett said.

“A decision regarding charges will be made when the investigation is complete,” the King County prosecutor’s office wrote in its statement.

That office will decide whether to charge Coleman.

“We’re just waiting it out. We don’t know anything. We haven’t been able to find out a word of what’s going on,” Carroll said. “We just know that he’s getting out and there’s no charges (currently) and all that kind of stuff. We’ll just take it one step at a time, when we have an opportunity to.”

Only when asked did Carroll mention Will Tukuafu will move into Coleman’s starting-fullback role against the Panthers, and that the team will miss Coleman on its kicking-game units.

WAGNER QUESTIONABLE

The Seahawks listed All-Pro middle linebacker Bobby Wagner as questionable for Sunday’s game with an injured pectoral muscle. Carroll said Wagner’s playing status versus the Panthers will be a game-time decision.

Wagner did not practice Wednesday or Thursday but was on the field practicing in a limited role Friday. He got hurt early in the fourth quarter of last weekend’s loss at Cincinnati but missed just two plays and played the remainder of the final period plus overtime.

Usual starting outside linebacker K.J. Wright would move inside to start at middle linebacker if Wagner can’t play. Wright said Wednesday he thinks Wagner will play against the Panthers — that Wagner told him he would.

“He’s tough enough to play with it,” Carroll said. “It’s whether it’s the right thing to do.”

One factor about Wagner playing or not playing Sunday: The Seahawks have to play again four days later, Thursday at San Francisco.

Lynch practiced fully for the second consecutive day. He hadn’t done that since Sept. 17-18. That means undrafted rookie Thomas Rawls goes back to the bench Sunday after two 100-yard games in the past three weeks while Lynch was hurt.

EXTRA POINTS

Carolina listed star LB Luke Kuechly as probable to play for the first time since the opener a month ago. Doctors cleared Kuechly to practice Tuesday; he missed three games with a concussion. … Carroll said the short, “tricky” week after the Panthers game might affect whether WR Paul Richardson comes off the physically-unable-to-perform list Monday, which is when he becomes eligible. The coach said the 2014 second-round draft choice who tore his knee ligament in January’s playoff game against Carolina is “100 percent” healthy to return to the field, though.

gregg.bell@thenewstribune.com

@gbellseattle

SUNDAY: Carolina (4-0) at Seattle (2-3), 1:25 p.m., Ch. 13, 710-AM, 97.3-FM, 1030-AM

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