As injuries turn the Seahawks secondary into the Legion of Whom, Earl Thomas told rookie Shaquill Griffin to step into leadership. Just as rookie Richard Sherman did six years ago.
Everyone knows things change fast in the the NFL. But an encounter between SS Earl Thomas and the young cornerback prodigy, Shaquill Griffin, had some figurative scorch marks on it.
Reported Griffin this week: “Earl Thomas came up to me and said it’s time for me to step up and be a leader.”
He’s a rookie. He’s 22. He’s played 10 regular season games. Only six were starts.
On the week he’s going to face Eagles QB Carson Wentz, who is about to be anointed as a young Tom Brady who can run, Griffin is also going to put some stars on his epaulets?
In the injury absences of SS Kam Chancellor and CB Richard Sherman, the Legion of Whom apparently needs to (young) man up.
“I have so much respect for Earl as a leader, so hearing that from him, it tells me I have to do a little bit more, pull more of the weight,” Griffin said. “I’m always excited for a challenge.”
Big things were expected from the six-foot, 194-pounder taken in the third round (90th overall) from Central Florida. But the alarms going off in the back of the defense, the vortex around which the entire team revolves, has decommissioned Griffin’s training wheels.
He was asked what he can do to create some leadership.
“It’s the way I carry myself off the field,” he said. “Spending more time in the locker room, bringing the other young guys along. Sacrificing a little more time for study. Just growing up a little faster. I got no problem with that.
“People tell me all the time they never know what age I am until I tell them.”
Pete Carroll’s coaching tenure has always featured precocious youngsters in places of prominence, none more so that QB Russell Wilson, who has started every game since his selection in the third round of the 2012 draft.
Even before that, Carroll found a young leader in the secondary: Sherman.
In 2011, the rookie fifth-rounder was a third-stringer behind veterans Marcus Trufant and Walter Thurmond. But after Trufant went down with a season-ending back injury and Thurmond broke his leg in his second start as Trufant’s replacement, the Seahawks entered week 8 against the Bengals with the heavily amped kid from Stanford starting at left cornerback.
For the next 98 games until he ruptured his Achilles tendon three weeks ago, Sherman was a pillar of the NFL’s most consistently premier defense.
Griffin is not consumed with the notion of beginning Legion Part Deux just yet, not with the 10-1 Eagles and Wentz a six-point favorite to win at the Clink Sunday night. He just wanted to get back on the field after a concussion kept him out of the 24-13 win Sunday over the 49ers.
“I tucked my head last-minute on a tackle and his knee hit me on the side of the helmet,” he said. “I was kinda wobbling, shaken up a little bit. (Doctors) were protecting me, but it hurt me so bad I couldn’t be out there (Sunday).”
Griffin also wasn’t around for Wentz’s debut as a rookie a year ago in Seattle during the Seahawks’ 26-15 win. But he has caught up via video scrutiny.
“He reminds me of what Russell does when he gets out of the pocket and runs,” he said. “He turns broken plays into big plays. Going against Russell every day in practice helps me to work on that.”
Brown, Willson, Davis, Thomas, Wagner: All good to go
As these Friday health roundups go, the Seahawks had mostly good news. Besides Griffin, starters LT Duane Brown (ankle), TE Luke Willson (concussion), RB Mike Davis (groin), FS Earl Thomas (heel) and LB Bobby Wagner (hamstring) were all given a thumbs-up by Carroll after practice.
Two backups listed as doubtful were DT Nazair Jones, who hurt an ankle during practice, and DE Dion Jordan, who has a neck stinger. RG Oday Aboushi is still out with a dislocated shoulder, meaning rookie Ethan Pocic is the likely starter.
Earlier in the week, the Seahawks advanced DT Rodney Coe from the practice squad and cut DT Garrison Smith. Coe is a second-year undrafted free agent from the University of Akron who has been on practice squads of three teams and has yet to play in the NFL.
The return of Davis after missing two weeks with a strained groin could mean a new starter, but Carroll wasn’t giving anything away about the Seahawks’ biggest positional mystery.
“Mike had a good week,” he said. “He is in consideration to be in that rotation.”
Brown had more work in practice after a sprained ankle. The return to health for Brown and LG Luke Joeckel had Carroll thinking about progress on the offensive line.
Brown “is really on it and ready to go,” he said. “It was great to see him really get some legit practice time with Luke. Not all of it, but enough that it is going to make a difference. We have the opportunity to improve our play up front.”