RENTON Earl Thomas has a hamstring strain that might keep him out of Sunday’s game against Washington--but might not.
That was Seahawks coach Pete Carroll’s day-after assessment about the injury his three-time All-Pro safety got in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s zany rally past Houston 41-38. That was after Thomas’ interception and 78-yard return for Seattle’s first touchdown in the first quarter against the Texans.
“He’s OK. He’s a little sore,” Carroll said Monday. “We looked at it and he’s got a strain that we are going to figure out, maybe in the lower level of the degrees of it. And we won’t know, we won’t know until later in the week.”
A strain to most players may mean putting playing in a game in jeopardy. What’s it mean to the famously determined Thomas?
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“I don’t know. It’s all the nature of it,” Carroll said. “’Sherm’ (Richard Sherman) had one a couple weeks ago and he was able to just get through it. So it just depends, and we won’t know until we get going (this week).
“You saw his nature; his nature is to go back out and play, which he plans on doing. But we will take good care of him, figure it out. It will just be some days before we know.”
Carroll had said Monday morning on his weekly show with Seattle’s KIRO-AM radio that Thomas had a “slight pull.”
Is it a strained or a pulled hamstring? Well, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons states “a hamstring strain can be a pull, a partial tear, or a complete tear.”
Thomas doesn’t easily stay off the field. He missed a game at Tampa Bay in November because of another strained hamstring. That ended his streak of 118 consecutive regular-season and playoff games started to begin his career, a Seahawks record for a defensive player. He comically spent that game against the Buccaneers watching it on television at a Buffalo Wild Wings in Portland.
The following week he broke his leg against Carolina and missed the remainder of last season.
Bradley McDougald replaced Thomas at free safety for the Texans’ final two drives after Thomas got hurt. Thomas was chasing DeAndre Hopkins on the Houston receiver’s 72-yard touchdown catch and run with 4:49 remaining when he grabbed the back of his right leg and suddenly stopped running.
Thomas tried to ask his way back into the game but Carroll joked later something about having to steal Thomas’ helmet to keep him off the field while McDougald played for him.
The Seahawks (5-2) signed McDougald, a former starter with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, this past offseason because they liked his physicality paired with his coverage skills. Defensive coordinator Kris Richard has been finding ways to get him increasing roles lately, such as a bigger nickel, fifth defensive back inside two games ago against big, fast New York Giants tight end Evan Engram.
“Yeah, we are really, really fortunate. Bradley is a front-line guy,” Carroll said. “He’s played a lot of football for us now, in and out, and done a ton of stuff. He’s smart, tough, a leader--all of that. So him coming off the bench to fill that spot, we are very fortunate.”
Thomas hasn’t practiced on a Wednesday or Thursday since Sept. 20 and 21 with what the team has listed as a knee injury, but he’s continued to play every one of the Seahawks’ first seven games.