The Seattle Seahawks’ secondary returns in 2013 with all four starters from last season. This relatively rare instance of continuity has only been enhanced with the offseason arrival of veteran defensive back Antoine Winfield, one of the NFL’s premier slot coverage and run-support cornerbacks.
Among the four starters, cornerbacks Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner, and safeties Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor, the Seahawks boast Associated Press All-Pro honors (Sherman) and Pro Bowl accolades across the board (Sherman and Thomas in 2012; Browner, Chancellor and Thomas in 2011). Adding to that impressive run of honors is the venerable ex-Minnesota Viking Winfield, who has been named to the Pro Bowl three times in his 15-year NFL career, most recently in 2010.
The Seahawks are stacked in the defensive backfield.
Even better, when the Seahawks have to go to dime defense (six defensive backs), the cupboard will not be bare. Talented cornerback Walter Thurmond is healthy and playing well for the team thus far in training camp and the preseason. This is news in that his availability to suit up on Sundays has been the bane of his young career. Now in his fourth year in Seattle, Thurmond has only played in only 21 games due to a litany of injuries. Reports from camp indicate that Thurmond has the inside track on the fourth cornerback job — a welcome addition to the team and key role against spread offenses the Seahawks are likely to face this season. Thurmond is also a weapon as a punt returner.
The Seahawks did not look to re-stock the defensive backfield via the 2013 draft, making only one selection for this group. Fifth-round rookie defensive back Tharold Simon of LSU has not yet practiced in training camp due to a stress-fracture injury in his foot. He remains on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list. He faces long odds against earning a roster spot among this deep corps of veterans.
Simon’s best chance to stick may be to remain on the PUP through the start of the regular season and hope for an opportunity when he can be activated after the first six weeks. If he returns to practice before the start of the season, he will not be eligible for the regular season PUP.
Other key veterans have a chance at making an impact in the secondary.
Safety Chris Maragos has put in a solid training camp and netted an interception in the preseason week one game, which he returned for 28 yards. Third-year veteran cornerback Byron Maxwell came up with the other interception for the Seahawks defense, which will surely get him additional opportunities to play more. Well-traveled veteran cornerback Will Blackmon remains a gifted athletic talent and is a strong special teams performer. Ex Boise State strong safety Jeron Johnson fought his way onto the team in 2011 via special teams and continues to excel there. He has a chance to make the team again this year as a key special teams member. The Seahawks are still enamored with the athleticism and aggressiveness of second-year safety Winston Guy, whom they stuck with despite being one of several Seahawks suspended in 2012 for violating the NFL’s policy for PEDs.
It’s early and it’s never wise to take too much away from a week one preseason game, but the Seahawks secondary is stacking up to be the deepest position group on the team. The Seahawks defensive backs will likely get their stiffest test of the preseason this Saturday evening, when they face Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos at CenturyLink Field.