At Seahawks mini-camp, FS Earl Thomas and SS Kam Chancellor are back.Thomas’s broken leg healed without surgery; Chancellor had bone spurs removed from both ankles on the same day.
By the time the past season ended, the Seahawks’ Legion of Boom imploded into the Legion of Gloom.
For CB Richard Sherman, you perhaps have read more this off-season– a sore knee and a bit of a sorehead. FS Earl Thomas had been lost for the season with a broken right leg in early December. SS Kam Chancellor was playing with bone spurs in both ankles that he felt for the past two seasons. And CB DeShawn Shead tore his ACL in the final playoff game.
When all were relatively healthy in the regular season, the Seahawks beat the Atlanta Falcons 26-24. When the teams met in the playoffs, the Falcons won 36-20 and could have easily scored 50 if not for coach Dan Quinn taking pity on his former team.
The discrepancy wasn’t all about the limping Legion. Just most of it.
The Seahawks defense lost its league-leading swagger. Much attention was given to Seattle’s wounded at running back and quarterback, but the shredding of the secondary loomed even larger.
That was then. This was Tuesday at the Seahawks’ mini-camp:
“We did everything we had to do to get ready,” said Chancellor, grinning. “We’re still rolling.”
Sherman, Chancellor and Thomas were all present, moving fast and well. Shead is still recovering from surgery and likely will miss the start of the regular season.
Chancellor’s wounds were less known but more recent and a bit startling. He said he spent nine days in a wheelchair in April after having double-ankle surgery. He said surgery for the same problem several years ago was done consecutively, and that took way too long to recover.
“I don’t what it is (about bone spurs) — part of me, I guess,” Chancellor said after the first of three days of the mandatory camp. “There was a lot of pain in my ankles. Every time I made a cut. Every time I wanted to make a hit, I felt pain in my ankles. Now it feels clear and clean.
“It affected me a lot, but I’m not one to complain.”
But both ankles repaired at once? Even coach Pete Carroll, who’s seen about everything, was astonished.
“Back when he did it, I can’t imagine somebody having both ankles operated on,” he said. “That was totally his choice. He did it and now he’s getting the benefits of that.”
Being wheelchair-bound was, as always for the normally ambulatory, a shock.
“Very humbling,” he said. “Never been in a wheelchair before. Not able to do what I want, move how I want. I don’t want to go through that process again.”
Nor did Thomas, Chancellor’s good friend whom he injured in a collision during the Tampa Bay game, want to have surgery to repair his leg.
“I wasn’t getting surgery,” he said. “My shoulder felt good (after a surgery two years ago) but I don’t want nothing done to my leg. (Doctors) told me it’s like a 50 percent chance it would heal naturally. I’ll take that chance.”
Shortly after the injury, Thomas tweeted that many things were racing through his mind, including the possibility of retirement. The Seahawks tried to dismiss the talk as the emotions typical after a serious injury, but Tuesday was the first opportunity to quiz Thomas directly.
“Definitely the shock of the moment,” he said. “I was having one of the best seasons of my career, I had (an interception) in my hands . . . just like that, it’s gone.
“My foundation is my legs. I’ve never had them broken. I had a shoulder (surgery), but nothing like (taking away) my speed.”
After seven years and starting 118 consecutive games, Thomas, 28, who estimated he’s about 80 percent of normal, wasn’t ready to quit.
“I couldn’t tell you at what point — it was a little bit of everything,” he said. “I just felt it wasn’t time. I saw Eric Berry get that huge deal (the Chiefs’ star set the new high for safeties at six years, $78 million) . . . you know there ain’t never enough of that.”
But it’s not Thomas’s turn yet for a new deal. It is, however, for Chancellor. He’s entering the fourth and final year of his deal, and there’s been an expectation that an extension would be forthcoming. Extensions often happen in the six weeks between the end of mini-camp and the start of training camp. Chancellor didn’t seem to be sweating.
“I wasn’t thinking about it until y’all brought it up,” he said. “I trust (the Seahawks’) word. I let it happen when it happens. Keep that camaraderie with my brothers.
“Whatever I deserve, that’s what I get.”
It’s a shame for him he didn’t realize that two years ago when he held out with no leverage, and the Seahawks’ season was dealt a serious blow.
The vulnerability of the secondary caused the Seahawks to load up in free agency and the draft with young players more capable of stepping in, instead of marginal special-teams guys who get promoted.
The stat that revealed the most decay was turnover ratio, in which the Seahawks were a meager plus-one (19 takeaways, 18 giveaways), 16th in the NFL and well behind Kansas City and Oakland, tied for the top with plus-16. In the 2013 regular season before they won the Super Bowl, the Seahawks led the NFL with plus-20.
“We never stop talking about (turnovers),” Chancellor said. “We want to be at the top of the turnovers list. I’m not really sure why numbers have gone down.”
A wild guess here, but being hobbled, bent and broken might have something to do with it. Everything the Seahawks do is predicated on a strong secondary. By the end of the season, it was anything but.
“Earl’s looking fast, almost back to where he wants to be,” Chancellor said. “He’s getting to the ball and covering ground. Looking like Earl.
“That’s my brother back there. Me and him know each other, not even saying anything, we know where each other is supposed to be on the field.”
In June, the gloom begins to lift.