RENTON – Redemption came in waves for Seahawks cornerback Tharold Simon over the weekend.
As Friday’s game against the San Diego Chargers neared, Simon vowed there wouldn’t be a repeat of the previous week against Denver. He was thrown out of that game after just 15 snaps for getting into a brief tussle with Broncos lineman Winston Justice.
“I don’t like to be that guy, portrayed as getting kicked out of a football game,” Simon said. “I’m not that type of guy. It was my fault. I take full responsibility.’’
Against the Chargers, all he needed to do was calm a small case of nerves at the beginning of his first game at CenturyLink Field after sitting out all of last season with a foot injury. Or, as Simon put it, “I felt a little jibberish early.”
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In the third quarter, he outdueled receiver Dontrelle Inman for position as Kellen Clemens threw a pass into the end zone. Simon held on to the ball, then raced down the sideline for what was listed as a 105-yard interception return for a touchdown.
As he controlled the ball, though, Simon saw a yellow flag fly across his face.
“But I was like, ‘It’s probably on the offense because I felt like he had more contact on me than I had on him,’ ” Simon said. “And then after the play, it really broke me down when they called it back.”
After the game, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll vehemently defended Simon, saying the call would not have been made except for the NFL’s new emphasis on calling illegal contact.
Over the weekend, Carroll got word from the NFL that even with the new emphasis, the call on Simon was incorrect.
“As they observed it, it shouldn’t have been called,” Carroll said.
The penalty robbed Simon of an initial chance to celebrate.
News that it was a bad call allowed him to look at the brighter side of what the play represented — the fact he appears ready to take on a significant role for the Seahawks in 2014 after the lost rookie season of a year ago.
“Just to get the feeling of picking the ball off and getting the touchdown is the best feeling because I know I did the right thing,” he said. “At the end of the day, the team knows I did the right thing and I figure everybody around the league knows that play shouldn’t have been called back.”
The 6-foot-3, 202-pound Simon missed the 2013 season due to a stress fracture in a foot, and then a later injury suffered while running up stairs. Each injury required surgery.
He says the foot “isn’t 100 percent. … but it doesn’t bother me. I’m not going to let it hold me back anymore.’’
Seattle drafted Simon in the fifth round in 2013 looking ahead to this year, when it knew it might need younger players to step in for departing players. That’s exactly what happened. Simon is being called on to help replace Walter Thurmond and Brandon Browner, who signed in the offseason with the New York Giants and New England Patriots.
“We’ve seen nothing but good stuff,” Carroll said Monday of Simon, who appears to have a roster spot as a backup corner. “He plays just like we like to play. He knows our style. He understands it.”
When he slips up, Richard Sherman is usually there to remind him.
Simon says Sherman is a constant source of encouragement and advice. Specifically, Sherman makes note in practice or film sessions if the play ends and Simon isn’t in view.
“If he doesn’t see me coming to the ball, he runs out on the field and says, ‘You’ve got to get to the ball,’ ” Simon said. “ ‘No matter if it’s not on your side. Just run to the ball. Make sure you get in the picture.’ ”
Simon appears to be showing he’s getting the picture.