By Curtis Crabtree Associated Press
RENTON — Seattle Seahawks cornerback Byron Maxwell has waited patiently for his opportunity to excel in a secondary loaded with talent.
After three years being buried in the depth chart, Maxwell is determined to prove he belongs.
Maxwell is the favorite to replace Brandon Browner and Walter Thurmond as the starting right cornerback in Seattle’s defense. Maxwell took over as a starter late last season after Browner and Thurmond were suspended for violations of the league’s substance-abuse policy.
In five regular-season starts opposite All-Pro Richard Sherman, Maxwell had four interceptions and 12 passes defended as teams frequently challenged him.
“Whenever we put him in he has done a great job and he really seized the opportunity last year when given the chance and just was competitive and productive as you could hope a guy to be,” coach Pete Carroll said.
“Obviously they’re going to challenge the guy on the other side of Richard (Sherman) and they did. He stood up to it, he handled the pressure of that really well.”
Maxwell’s four interceptions were tied for 11th most in the league last season despite the limited playing time. He also forced a fumble in the Super Bowl as Seattle cruised to its first title with a 43-8 victory over the Denver Broncos.
“Everybody gets an opportunity and he gets his opportunity to shine now just like everybody else was afforded,” Sherman said. “I’m really happy he gets to shine and show his talents because he’s a tremendous player and makes a tremendous impact on the game.”
Maxwell, a sixth-round pick in the 2011 draft, was selected just one round after Sherman. While both players showed potential early on, it was Maxwell that made the biggest impressions early in that first training camp with the Seahawks.
However, a handful of nagging injuries hindered Maxwell as Sherman passed him on the depth chart and became a star for the Seahawks.
“It’s just everything happens for a reason,” Maxwell said. “I was meant to be in this situation so I’m just taking it and running with it.”
Maxwell quietly developed in the background as Sherman and Browner assumed starting roles. When Browner was suspended and Thurmond injured late in 2012, Maxwell got his first chance for more playing time. He rotated in as a part of Seattle’s nickel package and proved he had the potential for an increased role.
“I think he is one of our most technically sound guys so as he keeps getting into his technique, he just keeps getting sharper and sharper,” defensive coordinator Dan Quinn said. “Even though he’s a veteran player now, he keeps improving with the more work and more reps he gets.”
Maxwell’s play late last season gave the team the confidence to let Browner and Thurmond leave in free agency. Despite the larger role, Maxwell said he doesn’t plan on changing anything now that he is a starter.
“We won the Super Bowl so we’ve just got to get back to work,” Maxwell said.