Steven Terrell will start at free safety and Dion Bailey at strong safety in place of Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor in Friday’s game against the Denver Broncos at CenturyLink Field.
RENTON — The Seahawks are preparing to do something Friday they have not done since Pete Carroll and his staff took over in 2010 — play a game without both Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor.
True, it’s just the preseason as Denver comes to CenturyLink Field for a 7 p.m. kickoff. The hope remains that the Seahawks secondary will be whole when the regular season begins Sept. 13 at St. Louis.
But when the Seahawks held their 10th training-camp practice Tuesday, Chancellor remained holding out in a contract dispute and Thomas remained limited to just working in walk-throughs.
Friday (exhibition game)
Denver @ Seahawks, 7 p.m., Ch. 13
The Seahawks hope Thomas will return to full practice duty in a week or two. Few around the team expect Thomas — who has not missed a game in his NFL career, starting all 80 — to miss the game against the Rams.
Chancellor’s situation, though, grows murkier each day. He remains absent while hoping for some improvements to a contract he signed in 2013 that has three years remaining and will pay him $4.5 million this season. Chancellor, at the least, reportedly wants some of his future base salaries guaranteed. He has been paid all of the $17 million guaranteed in his current deal.
The Seahawks, though, are apparently holding firm to their stance of not wanting to give in to Chancellor and set a precedent that could cause other players to come calling later.
So for now, the stalemate continues, leaving defensive coordinator Kris Richard, the team’s secondary coach from 2010-14 before being promoted to replace Dan Quinn, to prepare to open the preseason without half of the founding members of the Legion of Boom.
Richard noted that the 10 training-camp practices means “we know kind of what we are walking into. But it’s not going to change a thing. Ultimately, we know what we are responsible for, and that’s to uphold our standard. And our goal is to raise that bar. Right now our sole focus is the guys that are here and getting them prepared.’’
The makeup of that new-look secondary has undergone another change. DeShawn Shead spent the first week as the starting strong safety alongside Steven Terrell at free safety.
But the past two days, second-year player Dion Bailey has worked with the starting unit at strong safety and is in line to get the start against Denver. Terrell remains at free safety, with Shead working with the second unit at strong safety.
Richard said after practice Tuesday that the move “is nothing to take away from what DeShawn is being able to do’’ but that “right now, Dion has been showing up, and it’s noticeable.’’
Bailey, from Lakewood, Calif., played at USC and committed to the Trojans while Carroll was still coach. Seattle signed him as an undrafted free agent in May, 2014 but a severe ankle injury early in camp led to him spending most of the year on the practice squad. A hamstring injury had him on the non-football injury list to begin camp. But since returning after just a few days, he has impressed with a seemingly innate ability to be in the right place at the right time.
“He just continues to show that he’s got great instincts,’’ Carroll said this week.
Receiver Doug Baldwin said Tuesday he first noticed that trait in Bailey during Super Bowl practices.
Baldwin recalled running a route and said: “I turned around, and he was sitting right there. He told me he guessed right, and I told him, ‘You can’t keep guessing right’ because he was always in the right spot, always making the right decisions.’’
Asked about that ability Tuesday, Bailey said “I’ve been able to get some good breaks, getting good reads on a pretty good quarterback in Russell Wilson, so my confidence is building and I’m ready to go out there Friday and show the world what I can do.’’
Bailey, echoing what many other Seahawks have said in recent days, said he keeps in constant contact with Chancellor. But he also states an obvious fact of life in the NFL — the absences of the vets means the chance of a lifetime for younger players such as him.
“Earl is down, Kam’s not here, so I’ve got a lot of opportunity to show what I can do, and I’m just trying to take advantage of it,’’ Bailey said.
That is reflected in his rise up the depth chart.
“Things are really looking up for me right now,’’ Bailey said. “It’s a feeling I can’t really explain. It feels like my life has turned 180 degrees in a couple of days. So I’m just enjoying the ride, trying to take it day by day and keep progressing.’’