As Chancellor dithers in a nearly hopeless holdout, obscure backup DeShawn Shead, an undrafted free agent out of Portland State, gets his temporary moment in the sun.
RENTON — If straying into tackling range of Seahawks SS Kam Chancellor is the football equivalent of being taken to the woodshed, what’s it going to be like, in his absence, to be taken to the DeShawn Shead?
OK, cheap play on words. But the question is legit, given that Chancellor is on day six of his virtually fruitless holdout, and coach Pete Carroll seems to have upgraded the threat level.
“It’s an issue of concern,” he said after practice Wednesday. “It’s an issue of concern, particularly for Kam. Here, we have to keep moving. He knows. That’s what we’re called to do and so we’re going to do that.
“But it’s a very difficult time for him, I think.”
So too, for the Seahawks bosses, who are steadfast in their refusal to set precedent by renegotiating a deal that is in only the second of its four years. Another player with the identical contract dissatisfaction, DE Michael Bennett, gave in on his threatened holdout and reported for work Thursday.
If the Seahawks bend for Chancellor, Bennett probably will bolt out of camp across Lake Washington so fast his feet would barely get wet.
Until the impasse is resolved, it is, as Seahawks fans know, next man up.
Up to his point, Shead has been among the most obscure who are entering a fourth season with the Seahawks.
A Southern California native who went undrafted out of Portland State, the 6-foot-1, 220-pounder was a practice-squad guy until he played in five games on special teams in 2013. Last season he played in every game, including a start and the three playoff games, again mostly on special teams, accumulating 19 career tackles.
He’s probably best known as the guy who proposed on the Clink field after a game Sept. 21. Jessica Martinez said yes, and they now have a daughter, Savannah.
Now, through no plan of his own, he is getting known as the successor, at least temporarily, to one of the baddest men on on the planet.
“I look at it as wonderful opportunity,” he said Wednesday. “If Kam goes down or can’t make it, next man goes in. It’s not like I’m the backup — everyone is the same, the level of play doesn’t drop.
“You’re expected to keep the standard high. We’re expected to stay the best secondary in the NFL.”
Those are certainly the proper aspirations. But Shead is shorter, smaller and less intimidating than The Canceler. And he’s not really a strong safety.
“I’ve played corner most of my career, so I’ll say I’m a corner playing safety right now,” he said. “After being in this defense for four years, I’m comfortable in free and strong (safeties) and corner. It doesn’t matter. I tell people I’m a defensive back.”
The versatility to back up at each secondary position is what kept Shead hanging onto the fringes of the roster. It’s also what keeps him from making a definitive mark.
“The biggest problem about being so versatile,” he said, “is you miss some of those little details at each position. I have to stay on top of the details. On one play, I’m playing corner, next playing free, next playing strong. That’s my role. I have to be ready to go.
“My preparation in the off-season was to focus on the safety position — free and strong. I was watching a lot of run fits, watching a lot of offenses and the coverages we like to be in.”
He had no clue about a holdout from Chancellor, who has a $28 million deal, getting $5.6 million this season, but nothing guaranteed after this year. Carroll was asked if he and Chancellor had more conversation.
“There’s been no exchange,” he said. “I’d love to talk to him. I haven’t talked to him in a couple days.”
He’s more optimistic about what Shead can do. Of course.
“He’s been around a long time — he knows our system and what to expect,” Carroll said. “He’s a dedicated Seahawk. He does everything the way we want. He’s very athletic. He’s played corner in the past and done it well. His coverage skills are there. I’m anxious to see how he fits in on a regular basis in the running game. Not that he won’t know where’s going; I want to see how aggressive and physical his presence can be. We’ve had big expectations for that spot.
“I’m ready to see him play — I have no hesitation. He’s played some, y’know?”
Some? Some. He’s also been around Seattle enough to experience the joying of winning the big one and the burn of losing the big one.
“(The Super Bowl loss) was really tough,” he said. “Like any player, I’ve been part of many losses — that was the worst one. We knew we should have won; that’s why it hurt so much.
“At end of day, I had to take that in and look at the blessings we had. I’ve been a Super Bowl champion, played in two. I’ll never forget talking to a reporter on media day in Phoenix, and he said he was a 15-year player and it was 15th year before he made it.”
He also counts among his blessings the win over Green Bay in the NFC Championship, an emotion dwarfed in many by the pain loss to New England
That was the craziest win I’ve been a part of,” he said. “Down 19-7 and winning in the last four minutes.”
Now he gets to experience the pressure of stepping in for one of the game’s most ferocious players. No pressure.
Earl Thomas cleared to play
After practice, the ravaged secondary received good news — FS Earl Thomas passed his physical exam, so he’s off the physically unable to perform list and ready to return to action.
Thomas had surgery in March to repair a labrum torn in his left shoulder during the NFC Championship against Green Bay, and played with it during the Super Bowl.
There was some doubt Thomas would be ready by the regular-season opener, but it’s possible now that he will see action in the third or fourth preseason game.
The Seahawks also released LB Alex Singleton, signed May 9, and signed LB Dakorey Johnson from Kansas State.