Seahawks’ Thomas to start in Pro Bowl

  • Tue Dec 27th, 2011 8:58pm
  • Sports

By John Boyle Herald Writer

SEATTLE — The members of a young Seattle Seahawks secondary feel like they are one of the NFL’s best collections of cornerbacks and safeties, even if the haven’t yet become household names.

On Tuesday, the league’s announcement of its Pro Bowl rosters gave Seattle’s secondary some validation.

Second-year free safety Earl Thomas was named a starter on the NFC squad, giving Seattle its first Pro Bowler since 2008. Additionally strong safety Kam Chancellor and cornerback Brandon Browner were named first alternates, meaning they’ll be headed to Hawaii as well if a starter at their position can’t play because of injury or if they play in the Super Bowl, which takes place a week after the Pro Bowl. In addition to Chancellor and Browner, fullback Michael Robinson was also named a first alternate, running back Marshawn Lynch, Seattle’s first 1,000-yard rusher since 2005, was named a second alternate, and punter Jon Ryan was a third alternate.

So to sum it up, Seattle’s secondary is made up of two second-year safeties, one a Pro Bowl starter and one an alternate, a first-year cornerback in Browner, and a rookie cornerback Richard Sherman, who since becoming a starter, has arguably shown as much upside as anyone on the defense. As good as this group is now, the future appears to be even brighter.

“It’s fun out there on Sundays, especially these last couple of weeks,” Thomas said last week. “… I think we’ve got a special group, one of the best in the league.”

Thomas, who is second on the team with 88 tackles, has only two interceptions this year, down from five in his rookie season, but his coaches have said all year that, interceptions or not, Thomas, who has played every defensive snap this season, has been enjoying a much better second season.

Thomas will be Seattle’s first Pro Bowl representative since 2008 when linebacker Julian Peterson and left tackle Walter Jones were selected, though Jones didn’t play because of a knee injury. Thomas is the first Seahawks safety selected since Darryl Williams in 1997.

And while Thomas, the No. 14 overall pick in the 2010 draft, was expected to be a Pro Bowl-caliber player, the list of Seahawks named as alternates highlights the job that general manager John Schneider and head coach Pete Carroll have done finding hidden gems as they rebuild the Seahawks roster.

Browner, who at 6-foot-4 looks nothing like a typical NFL cornerback, went undrafted out of Oregon State, and after never finding a job in the NFL, he spent the past four seasons in the Canadian Football League before finally landing a roster spot with Seattle this year. This season he has six interceptions, which is one shy of the NFL lead, and leads the league with 26 pass defenses. Chancellor was a fifth-round pick who many teams felt was too big to play safety in the NFL, but with 86 tackles and four interceptions, he has been one of Seattle’s best players. Robinson, meanwhile, was a running back who was cut by the 49ers before last season, and converted to fullback in Seattle where he has helped lead the way for Lynch’s impressive season.

Herald Writer John Boyle: jboyle@heraldnet.com. For more Seahawks coverage, check out the Seahawks blog at heraldnet.com/seahawksblog