Seahawks free safety Earl Thomas said Tuesday he expects to be without limitations when the team begins training camp Sunday after he suffered a broken tibia last December.
Five days before Seahawks training camp begins, free safety Earl Thomas pushed himself through a strenuous three hours of sprints, backpedals and coverage drills in the hot afternoon sun at Eastside Catholic High School Tuesday.
Throughout, he appeared in his usual Pro Bowl form — in one-on-one competitions against receivers he didn’t get beat once, and in about eight or so group 40-yard dashes he won easily each time.
The one caveat?
Thomas was competing against 100 or so kids in grades one through eight who attended his second annual football camp, officially titled the Citi Earl Thomas Football ProCamp.
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But that was the only caveat, Thomas said in an interview after the camp had concluded.
If Thomas looked like he was all the way back from the broken tibia he suffered in a game against Carolina last Dec. 4 that ended his 2016 season after 12 games as he ran against the campers who had been judged the fastest in their groups and defended receivers who had won the right to go against him one-on-one, Thomas said that’s also how he feels.
“I’m feeling really, really good,’’ he said. “I’m feeling solid. That’s all I can ask for going into this part of the season. I’m excited and ready to get back out there with the guys and try to take this thing, take it all the way.’’
Thomas, in fact, said he thinks he will be ready to take on anything and everything the team asks of him from the first day of camp Sunday.
“I don’t think I’ll have any limitations,’’ said Thomas, a first-round pick in 2010 who had not missed a game in his NFL career until sitting out five regular season contests last year and both in the post-season. “The thing about (training) camp is it’s going to put me in a lot of great situations where I can see how I will react and then I can kind of go from there.’’
Though Thomas said he thinks he’ll be without limitations it’s likely the team will make sure he doesn’t overdo it as he comes back from the first significant injury of his career at any level and he could be given some drills and days off here and there.
But as the 28-year-old Thomas talked and looked out at the campers who he had helped teach various fundamentals and plays — Thomas played quarterback for a while —- he said his desire to get back on the field is greater than at any time in his career.
Thomas famously tweeted almost immediately after the injury and before the game had even reached halftime that he was contemplating retirement, a comment he reiterated in an interview with the NFL Network a couple weeks later. But he later said that was mostly the emotion of the moment taking over and he made clear during the team’s offseason program — when coach Pete Carroll said Thomas had recovered more quickly than anticipated — that he was as committed to the game as ever.
And Tuesday, he made clear he can’t wait to return to his usual position on the field, patrolling the back end of the Seahawks’ secondary.
“It’s definitely a different appreciation (for the start of the season) because it’s from a different view,’’ he said. “I’ve been battling this whole offseason just to give myself a chance to be productive this season and I think I did that.’’
Physically, Thomas said he feels the same as ever.
Thomas said he weighs the same 205 as he usually has this time of year saying “that’s right on mark where I want to be’’ though he said the rigors of the season means he typically gets to around 200 by the time the playoffs roll around.
And he said he feels no pain in the leg when he runs or works out.
“No,’’ he said. “I just attack it like normal. I’m okay.’’
Simply being able to work out, though, he said has taken on a little different feel in the wake of the weeks and months when his leg was in a cast and he was rendered immobile for the first time in his life.
“If anything I just have a better appreciation just to be able to run,’’ he said. “I like to run and when that’s taken from you, you kind of have a different outlook on it. So any time I get a chance to run, I want to run.’’
This was the second straight year Thomas has had a camp at Eastside Catholic and he said he enjoyed seeing some familiar faces.
“Just the interaction with the kids,’’ he said. “I really enjoy that. I think this is something I could do when I retire. I don’t know if it’s necessarily coaching or volunteering, but I definitely love being out here on the field with the kids, teaching them everything that I know.’’
The campers also received some unexpected advice from Thomas’ teammate, Richard Sherman, who made an unscheduled appearance.
“Sherm came to support me,’’ Thomas said. “That was really big. He said some words of wisdom to the kids. They wasn’t expecting it. But he had my back today.”