NFL Football

Seahawks know Thompson to get targeted with Thomas out

(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

By TIM BOOTH

AP Sports Writer

RENTON, Wash. (AP) There's no more uncertainty about the Seattle Seahawks' situation at free safety. No more debate about whether Earl Thomas will practice or not, or whether a trade is coming.

With Thomas gone for the year with a broken leg, the Seahawks are finally clear that Tedric Thompson is their starting free safety going forward.

"We're excited about his play and he's just growing. He's really mature about stuff, he's really worked hard to understand the scheme and the principles of what we want and he plays really strict and disciplined football," coach Pete Carroll said. "You put that all together, it makes for a chance to be a very productive player."

Thompson will make his first NFL start Sunday when the Seahawks host the unbeaten Los Angeles Rams, and there could be no bigger test for a defensive back than facing the top passing offense in the league.

Seattle got a good look at Thompson during the offseason and through training camp when he took the majority of the starting reps at free safety while Thomas was holding out because he was unhappy with his contract situation. Thompson played well in each of the first three preseason games and the Seahawks felt comfortable that if Thomas didn't return, or if a trade was made, they could go into the season with Thompson as their starter.

Now, the Seahawks don't have a choice. It's Thompson's job for the foreseeable future.

"He's a very hungry guy and we know he's going to come out there and be excited," linebacker Bobby Wagner said. "He knows that people are probably going to be looking at him and I think he's up for the challenge."

Thompson was a fourth-round pick by the Seahawks in 2017 and he was pegged as a potential starter from the outset. They liked his ability to make plays on the ball in space, even if he doesn't have the same kind of speed and coverage range as Thomas. He may not be like Thomas in having that rare ability to cover sideline-to-sideline, but he has enough that the Seahawks don't believe there will be a major drop off.

"He's done everything right to be in this position. Before Earl came back he was the man we had put our faith and trust in. It wasn't blind faith. It was stuff we had seen all through camp. He was showing up making plays," strong safety Bradley McDougald said. "It gives me confidence to know who is behind me. Coming into this game there is no question I know what to expect from Tedric."

Wagner noted that when Thomas returned in time for the opener at Denver, Thompson had one of his best weeks of practice. Thompson didn't make an issue about possibly losing out on a significant opportunity just because Thomas was back. And now his chance is here, for the rest of this season and possibly beyond with the likelihood Thomas goes elsewhere following the season as a free agent.

Even after Thomas returned, Thompson got on the field both in brief stints at free safety and in a few packages where Seattle goes with three safeties.

Thomas' message when he spoke with Thompson this week was simple: "Have fun. Play with confidence."

"I feel pretty comfortable with the fact that I know I have the trust coming from my teammates," Thompson said. "I feel pretty comfortable."

NOTES: Starting DE Frank Clark missed his second straight day of practice due to illness. But the Seahawks saw RB Chris Carson return to practice in a limited fashion after missing last week's game due to a hip injury. The Seahawks remain optimistic Carson will be able to play Sunday.

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Updated October 4, 2018

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