Today, I wrote about the changes Earl Thomas has undergone since joining the Seahawks in 2010. Call it Earl Thomas 2.0.
He's a clear leader -- maybe the leader -- on defense.
A couple examples, some from the story, but mostly extras:
> In the story, we touch on Thomas at practice, where he is trash-talking everyone from backup receivers to Russell Wilson to Pete Carroll. One day in particular, he was killing then encouraging Ricardo Lockette, even though Thomas was not in on the team drill.
“I like it,” Lockette says. “It pumps me up. It gives me an adrenaline rush. It’s like, ‘OK, we’re at practice, let’s go. It’s football, let’s get aggressive.'"
> After Byron Maxwell had two interceptions against the Giants in New York, a local television station wanted to do a postgame interview with him. Maxwell was reluctant. Over and over, Thomas encouraged him. Finally, Maxwell relented and did the interview. Thomas told him that, as a starter making plays, he's going to have to get used to that. Which is something it took Thomas a bit to do. It's also something that helped lead to this comment from Pete Carroll:
"I think also he’s been here long enough that there are young guys that are following him," Carroll said. "There are young guys that are really trying to emulate the way he goes about it. I think Byron Maxwell is a really good example of that. His habits, his mentality, his focus, and the way he communicates about the game and all of that. All of that is just so obvious about the guy that I think they recognize that he’s that unique.”
> What Thomas' teammates think of his leadership was reflected when he won the Steve Largent Award this season, which the players vote on. Here's Carroll on why the players voted for Thomas:
“Absolutely persistence," Carroll said. "If you can say persistence and constant in the same breathe that’s Earl. He has never backed off of bringing it. With studying, working, working out, mentality, the way he communicates, and we knew this about him coming out of Texas. Their coaches and the people at Texas talked about him as just a total team starter. He’d start the practice, he’d rev it all up and he was a guy that always brought that energy."
Reading that comment circles back to what the anecdote with Lockette.
> Thomas is well aware his five-year deal is coming to an end. Here's what he had to say when I asked him if he was concerned about it at all:
"I know it’s coming. When it happens it happens. Why stress it when you know it’s coming? You just focus on what’s in front of you right now, all the other stuff will take care of itself. It’s already been taking care of. Your play is going to speak for itself. They already know how valuable you are to the team and what you bring. Those numbers don’t lie."
> Lastly, after having multiple talks with Thomas about doing things outside of football, I asked him how long he planned to play. His answer was not surprising for someone who is always the last one to take his uniform off after games and zooms around practice every day.
"I plan on playing until they kick me out," Thomas said.
More Seahawks from the TNT:
> Dave Boling says that Percy Harvin will play, score and astonish Saturday. From Boling:
If the Seahawks win the coin flip Saturday before the NFC divisional playoff game against New Orleans, expect them to receive the opening kickoff rather than defer.Then watch Percy Harvin retreat to the goal line as the lone returner.
Given his flair for the dramatic, fueled by a season’s worth of pent-up competitive frustration, prepare for Harvin to jet 100 yards or more for a touchdown.
In little more than 10 seconds, Harvin could very well put the Seahawks on the path toward the NFC championship game.
A healthy Harvin is that dangerous. And he’s that ripe for a huge day.
> Our Don Ruiz, who is with the Saints -- we're the only outlet in the area with a reporter on the ground there -- write that the Saints expect a better Drew Brees this time.
> A notebook with info on Marshawn Lynch's appeal of his fine, plus Luke Willson talking about his ankle injury.
> Coming up today is a final practice for the week. It's likely we'll hear from Harvin and Lynch, in addition to Pete Carroll.
> An excellent story on Russell Wilson's father from Gwen Knapp at Sports on Earth.
> Mike Tanier, also of of Sports on Earth, says the Seahawks, like other home teams this weekend, have a distinct advantage, for different reasons.
> Game picks from an ESPN trio:
> Seth Kolloen writes "The Seahawks effect: to root is to suffer" over at Seattle Weekly. From some of the comments around here, it seems many can relate to his position.
> ESPN with a long look at the Legion of Boom.
> SI.com writes the Saints are seeking "unlikely" redemption at CenturyLink on Saturday.
> Saints cornerback Keenan Lewis practiced Wednesday and expects to play Saturday.
> The Saints' other corner, Corey White, says he knows he needs to make plays since he will be targeted often.
> The Saints are still trying to find a solution to the CenturyLink noise. What they did last time didn't work.
> Nola.com and, it's commenters, wonder who could be the "X" factor for the Saints against the Seahawks.