Despite what Pete Carroll and the Seahawks are saying—or, more accurately, not saying—all signs point to Earl Thomas starting the opener on Sunday.
That is, unless you believe the angry future Hall-of-Fame free safety ended a protracted, contentious and fruitless holdout on a Wednesday, let it be known “the disrespect has been well noted and will not be forgotten”, all just so he can watch Tedric Thompson play four days later in Denver.
Or even if you believe what Carroll said Friday, that it will be game-time decision the Seahawks will make Sunday.
If you buy that, well, then the Rocky Mountains are flat.
Asked why Thomas would NOT play Sunday, Carroll said: “Want to see how he comes the field. Just do everything we can to take care of him as much as possible. And we’ll make the right choices, use all the time available.
“He had a good week. He was solid all week long. He’s fired up, and studying and working hard at it,” Carroll said of Thomas fully practicing Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, his first workouts with the team since December.
“We’ll let you know how that’s going to turn out here (Saturday).”’
The Seahawks have until 1:25 p.m. Saturday, 24 hours before kickoff, per NFL rules, to activate Thomas from his exempt roster status if they want him to play Sunday. They need to drop a player from the 53-man roster by Saturday afternoon to do that.
The Seahawks reportedly already have created the roster space to activate Thomas. They have decided to waive Simeon Thomas, the rookie cornerback they picked up on waivers from Cleveland last weekend, according to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle.
The NFL’s official transactions for Friday showed no waiving of Thomas or anyone else by the Seahawks. So that is likely to become official on Saturday.
And, yes, the Seahawks absolutely want, and need, Thomas to play. As it is, Seattle will have at least eight starters on defense in Denver that did not start the 2017 opener at Green Bay. Two would be starting in their first NFL games.
Shaquem Griffin will start at weakside linebacker for Pro Bowl veteran K.J. Wright, while Wright recovers from arthroscopic knee surgery two weeks ago. Fellow rookie Tre Flowers could start at right cornerback. Dontae Johnson, the presumed starter Sunday, is questionable with a groin injury.
“Oh my goodness! Really good to see Earl back. I became a better coach today,” defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. said upon Thomas’ arrival Wednesday. “Really good to see him. You know how much he’s been a part of this program and how awesome he’s been since the day one he arrived here. He’s part of this family. It’s like having a family member back that hadn’t been around so everybody was really happy to see him. ...
“If you know Earl, he’s ready. He’s never not ready. So we understand what his work ethic has been since he’s been here (and) the things that have made him be one of the top players in the league.
“I think if you know anything about Earl, you know he’s ready.”
Thomas hasn’t spoken publicly since he returned to the team. He declined interview requests Wednesday, Thursday and again Friday. A team spokesman said Thomas had nothing more to say beyond his Instagram post Wednesday announcing his return—and him noting the “disrespect.”
The spokesman said Thomas would speak to the media in the visiting locker room in Denver following Sunday’s game. Providing he plays, that is.