Seahawks Insider Blog

Jeremy Lane to be out a while, Marcus Burley nickel DB for now; Pete Carroll says Earl Thomas is still his punt returner

Pete Carroll and a decidedly smaller media throng than was here when the national pack was here the last few days for the, um, Packers NFL opener.

"Small crew, huh?" Carroll joked the day after the 36-16 win over Green Bay. "How soon they lose interest."

Carroll announced nickel defensive back Jeremy Lane is going to be "down for a while" and that team is exploring what they have to do to get his re-injured groin healed. Lane left last night's game in the third quarter. Seattle initially went from mostly nickel to its base defense with four defensive backs for the first few snaps after Lane got hurt. Then Marcus Burley, whom the Seahawks acquired from Indianapolis last week on the day of final preseason cuts for a sixth-round draft choice in 2015, entered as the nickel back and impressed Carroll with an aggressive pass breakup -- and for just being so ready to play five days after he joined the team.

Carroll said Burley, 5 feet 11 and 185 pounds who was active for one game for last season with Jacksonville as a rookie from Delaware, is the nickel back "for now." Carroll said the Seahawks will continue to explore potential Plans B and C at the fifth defensive-back spot for the Sept. 14 game at San Diego.

--My former Associated Press colleague and Pro Football Talk contributor Curtis Crabtree asked Carroll "Is Earl Thomas your (punt-return) guy next week at SD?"

"Sure," Carroll answered.

It wasn't an iron-clad, convincing endorsement. Nor did Carroll want it to be. He'd like to keep opponents guessing whether it is going be Thomas or Bryan Walters or Efren Herrera back as Seattle's punt returner each week.

Carroll did reiterate what he said last night, that Thomas was surprised on the punt he fumble to get hit so quickly by teammate Richard Sherman blocking a Packer into him -- and that was no excuse for not fair-catching the ball in such close proximity to other players.

--Tharold Simon had his minor knee surgery to repair cartilage. Carroll estimates the cornerback could return in perhaps four weeks. The coach said "we are doing some things" about depth in the secondary.

--G/C Lemuel Jeanpierre has a nerve issue in his neck. Carroll says that is why he went on injured reserve this week.

--Carroll isn't sure yet whether the players who were out injured last night -- such as LB Kevin Pierre-Louis (hamstring), WR Kevin Norwood (ankle) - will be able to play at San Diego.

--The team is taking Saturday and Sunday off from practicing, will be on the field in Renton Monday, then off again Tuesday.

--Much of the rest of this press conference was Carroll being asked about Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers not throwing in Sherman's direction at all last night in 33 pass attempts, and Carroll's philosophy of playing his cornerbacks exclusively to one side of the field rather than matching them up, basketball man-to-man style, against certain receivers. Carroll says that's the way he's always done it. He mentioned that many All-Pro cornerbacks have "spoiled" the careers of the opposite corners because teams threw at the other guy so much, exposing a weakness. But he said Byron Maxwell, who had an interception that led to a field goal in the third quarter last night, continues to play well as teams target him instead of Sherman.

"Maxie's holding up really well," Carroll said.

Carroll said Sherman will remain on the left side only, but that the team is studying how teams do or do not challenge him to see if any adjustment may someday be necessary.

In this preseason San Diego and Denver, the Seahawks' next two foes, mostly avoided throwing at Sherman -- at least starters Peyton Manning and Philip Rivers did in Sherman's relatively limited time in those exhibitions.

"If a team lets you know that it is only throwing to one side of the field it helps everybody," Carroll said. "It's not going over there, it's going over here. If they would tell you before the game where they were going to throw the ball over here the whole time, that helps you. It's simply that; you just know where the ball is going.

"We can't bank on that. But after a while in the game (Thursday) it was pretty clear. ... It was a real concerted effort (to avoid Sherman)."