Seahawks safety Earl Thomas says he's easing into things during training camp but coach Pete Carroll thinks he's in some of the best shape of his career.

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Tuesday marked the first day Earl Thomas could hit someone in a football uniform since the December night that left him thinking — however briefly — he might never do so again.

“I’m just excited to be back out there,’’ said Thomas, who suffered a broken tibia last Dec. 4 against Carolina that ended his 2016 season and led him to take to Twitter that night to say the injury might make him think about retiring. “I haven’t been in pads in a very long time.’’

Thomas has long since moved the retirement thoughts, which on Tuesday he admitted were more about dealing with what was the first significant injury of his life at any level than something he seriously considered.

“I think I used twitter as a coping mechanism just to shoot my thoughts out there,’’ Thomas said.

Having to watch the Seahawks go on without him, though, “was very difficult. … it was different and it was difficult.’’

His return, though, has gone maybe better than he or the team expected.

Thomas returned to the field during the offseason program, given a few days off here and there but mostly able to do everything.

And he’s picked up where he left off this training camp, working so far without restrictions.

“I’m feeling really good,’’ he said after Tuesday’s practice. “No issues yet. I’m just continuing on my maintenance and letting it take care of itself. Just a lot of lower body exercises, a lot of squats, getting in the training room early in the morning around 6:45 just to get my body warm. It’s all about the discipline for me in that area. It’s very hard, but I think I’m getting through it.”

Not that there hasn’t been some rust.

Thomas is notoriously hard on himself and Tuesday he admitted that he may need some time to get back to his usual level.

“I’m easing into it,’’ he said. “I got a lot of great work in one-on-ones, the receivers kind of got the best of me today. But I’ll be back to fight tomorrow.” (Actually, Thomas and the rest of the Seahawks will get Wednesday off before returning to the field Thursday.)

But Thomas’ self-assessment that he needs some time to find his old form came as news to coach Pete Carroll who instead said he thinks Thomas is in the best shape he’s been in years.

“I told Earl this morning that he looks in better condition and faster than I’ve ever seen him since year one or two or something like that,’’ Carroll said of Thomas, who was taken in the first round in Carroll’s first draft with the team in 2010. “The last three or four years, this is the best he has ever been.  He put his mind to it to get back and make sure he was really ready to go.  He was really determined to recapture the game and affect his teammates.  Shoot, he looks great.  He’s not missing a thing.”