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Seahawks CB Thurmond again flashing ability

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By Eric Williams
The News Tribune
Published:
RENTON -- Although focused on a specific play, Seattle Seahawks assistant defensive backs coach Marquand Manuel could have been talking about the 2013 season when he told Walter Thurmond, "It's time to go" while the University of Oregon product worked through drills at a Monday morning training camp practice.
With starting cornerback Brandon Browner getting some rest, Thurmond took the majority of reps with the first-unit defense, once again making a handful of impressive plays during team drills.
"I felt great today," Thurmond said. "My legs are there. I had a good talk with coach Manuel, to get me some more confidence and stuff like that, and just really to try and finish plays.
"Even when the ball's not coming to me, I just want to finish everything. So I took that type of mindset today, got some balls thrown my way and was able to make some plays."
While Thurmond always has been considered a starting-caliber cornerback, a litany of injuries limited him to playing in just 21 of a possible 48 games in his first three seasons with Seattle.
A fourth round selection by the Seahawks in the 2010 draft, Thurmond battled back from major knee reconstructive surgery during his senior season at the University of Oregon. After an extensive rehab, Thurmond managed to make it onto the field his rookie season, playing in 13 games, including a start at cornerback against New Orleans on Oct. 21, 2010.
Thurmond, who turns 26 on Monday, finished with 33 tackles and seven pass deflections his rookie season.
Heading into the 2011 season, the Seahawks traded Josh Wilson to Baltimore during training camp, opening the door for Thurmond to win the starting job opposite Marcus Trufant.
However, Browner earned the nod over Thurmond out of training camp. Thurmond went on to play in six games that season, including three starts, but suffered broken fibula against Cleveland in October, ending his 2011 season.
He re-fractured his fibula in March of 2012 and had to have surgery, which set him back again in terms of his rehabilitation and getting back on the field, so he opened the 2012 regular season on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list for nine weeks while rehabbing the leg injury.
Thurmond eventually made his way onto the field again last season, playing in two games with one start at Chicago. But after missing three games with a lingering hamstring issue, Thurmond was placed on injured reserve in December of last year, once again cutting short his season.
Thurmond, who's in the final year of his rookie contract and is set to make a base salary of $630,000, hopes the injuries are a thing of the past.
"This is the capabilities and abilities that I've had the whole time since they drafted me," Thurmond said. "And now I really have the time to really showcase that I have to play with any injuries and things like that. I'm really just trying to compete every day."
Along with competing for a starting job against Browner, Thurmond also is locked into a tough battle with 15-year veteran Antoine Winfield for the nickel cornerback job.
At 5-11 and 190 pounds, Thurmond is one of the quickest guys on the team, but also physical enough to make tough tackles at the line of scrimmage in the run game.
"Inside's a different beast because you're almost a linebacker," he said. "The receiver has a two-way go, and you're playing with a lot more field. It's two different beasts, and I love them both."
Seattle head coach Pete Carroll said he's excited to see how Thurmond plays on Thursday at San Diego.
"Right now, he's trying to win that nickel spot," Carroll said about Thurmond. "That's the first thing. And then he wants to play at corner, too. And he can do both. He has shown up most at the nickel spot, a place we've always wanted to get him into because of his great quickness and play-making style.
"This is going to be a real battle between he and Antoine at that spot, and we'll see how that works out. Antoine's a gifted football player. And Walter being as healthy as he's been, it's really been a great boost -- for us to see him, and for his confidence. It's really up and he's playing well."
Injury update
Seahawks center Max Unger did not practice on Monday with an undisclosed injury, although he indicated during an interview with ESPN 710 Seattle that he's fine.
However, a more troubling development was offensive guard James Carpenter leaving the field midway through practice limping. Carpenter had arthroscopic surgery to clean up a knee issue during the offseason. Carpenter did not return.
Seattle head coach Pete Carroll did not talk with reporters after practice, so no updates were provided on Unger or Carpenter's injury status.
Along with Unger and Carpenter, injured players who sat out on Monday include receiver Bryan Walters (undisclosed), defensive tackle Jesse Williams (knee), receiver Early Doucet (undisclosed), tight end Darren Fells (hamstring), defensive end Cliff Avril (hamstring), receiver Stephen Williams (neck), defensive end Michael Bennett (undisclosed), linebacker Bruce Irvin (groin) and cornerback Ron Parker (hamstring).
Carroll said that running back Robert Turbin passed his physical, but he did not practice on Monday.
Zach Miller, Chris Clemons, Tharold Simon, Percy Harvin and Greg Scruggs remain on the physically unable to perform list. Korey Toomer remains on the non-football injury list.
Sidney Rice participated in team drills for the first time during training camp and looked explosive. Tight end Michael Palmer (groin) and fullback Michael Robinson (ankle) returned to practice on Monday.
Story tags » Seahawks

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