Antoine Winfield, the longtime veteran cut at the end of training camp because he was beaten out at cornerback by younger Walter Thurmond, “is a possibility” to fill at cornerback, coach Pete Carroll said Monday, while the Seahawks wait for Thurmond to return from a pending four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse program.
“He’s a really good football player,” Carroll said on his weekly radio show on ESPN 710. “He’s a great kid, really a quality kid, and knows his way around.”
Winfield is also 36 and hasn’t been on an NFL roster since the Seahawks cut him. He indicated at the time that he was planning to retire. In 2012 with the Vikings, his 14th pro season, the 5-foot-9 Winfield started 15 games and had 71 tackles, 12 passes defensed and three interceptions.
Carroll also has a couple of in-house options with far less NFL experience. Rookie fourth-round draft pick Tharald Simon returns to practice this week after being out since spring after developing a stress fracture in a foot. And DeShawn Shead, a free agent signee in 2012 out of Portland State., is on the practice squad.
“This will be the first time Simon will practice with us in forever,” Carroll said. “It’s important to see him. We have no information. But he’s a big, tall, good-looking guy. Shead is very close to making it onto the active roster. We trust him.”
The help-wanted sign is out because the Seahawks, already missing Brandon Browner to injury, are down to three cornerbacks going into Monday night’s home game against the New Orleans Saints’ pass-happy offense.
Carroll couldn’t comment on Thurmond’s suspension because the NFL has not announced it, although news leaked Sunday to the league’s media arm, NFL.com. Thurmond was reported to have dropped his appeal of the suspension for using non-PED drugs, meaning he could begin serving his time Sunday and be back before the playoffs begin.
The league’s policy for street drugs such as marijuana is to put first-time violators into its rehab program without a suspension. A second violation, however, usually brings about a suspension. So Thurmond was already under a warning from the NFL.
Thurmond, a fourth-year pro from Oregon, was well regarded as a nickel back. The dropoff in skills from Browner to Thurmond was not considered large. In the Seahawks’ most recent game against Minnesota, he returned an interception for a touchdown.
When news broke Sunday, Thurmond took to Twitter to apologize. But by Monday, he was firing back to followers who were critical of his judgment:
Talk about character A LOT of you have none. And I’m the bad guy. What that makes you.. good?
— walter thurmond III (@WaltThurm3) November 25, 2013