Earl Thomas' return to Seahawks secondary a success
DENVER (AP) — Earl Thomas didn't miss a beat after missing the entire offseason. Just have to get the rest of the secondary on the same wavelength.
The six-time Pro Bowl safety picked off a pass and collected five tackles Sunday in Seattle's 27-24 l oss at Denver 72 hours after he reported to the Seahawks with his pay-me-or-trade-me demand having failed on both counts.
Still, it wasn't up to the standards set by the old "Legion of Boom" defense that's imploded like Seattle's Kingdome with the offseason departures of Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor.
"Just glad to get through the first game and get that out the way," Thomas said. "That's it. It felt like we did pretty good up front, but it was just sometimes throughout the game it was small little plays that we should've had, we didn't communicate right and they had big plays."
Coach Pete Carroll managed Thomas' snaps as he said he would. Thomas had four days of practice after ending his holdout Wednesday.
"I think I had about 65 plays," Thomas said. "I felt good. I felt like my training with my brother and my team back home has been great and has been right on it. The only thing right now is my big toe hurt and my feet hurt, but that's about it."
Oh, and his feelings.
His Instagram post on Wednesday morning announcing his return made it clear Thomas wasn't happy or satisfied.
By reporting last week, Thomas assured he won't miss out on his roughly $500,000 weekly paychecks. But he wants more than the $8.5 million he'll make in 2018 in the final year of the four-year, $40 million contract he signed in 2015 after Seattle's win over Denver in Super Bowl 48.
"During the game I'm not thinking about it," Thomas said. "I'm out here having fun with B-Mac (safety Bradley McDougald) and the guys. So, I'm not thinking about it. When I get asked about it, it definitely runs across my mind."
Other takeaways from Denver's 18th win in its last 19 home openers:
Broncos rookie running backs Royce Freeman, the Pac-12's all-time rushing touchdown leader at Oregon, and Philip Lindsay took different paths to the NFL. Freeman was a third-round draft choice and Lindsay signed as an undrafted free agent after not even getting an invitation to the combine.
Their debuts were identical, however: 15 carries for 71 yards, a 4.7-yard average.
While Lindsay added a 29-yard TD catch-and-scamper, Freeman helped salt away the win with several strong runs in the closing minutes, two of which covered 17 and 15 yards just before the 2-minute warning.
"I mean, first game you're going to have a little bit of nerves," Freeman said, "but they churn more to excitement."
Demaryius Thomas had an awful start as three passes went off his hands, his holding call negated a 12-yard run and a miscommunication led to an interception in the first half.
"It was like my first game again," Thomas said. "I was so excited to be back on the field. Those first three plays were kind of tough, kind of tough. Couple quick drops."
Quarterback Case Keenum never lost faith in the ninth-year veteran, who bounced back with six catches for 63 yards and scored the winning TD with his tip-toeing 4-yard grab in the fourth quarter.
"Demaryius is just like all of us — he's human," Keenum said. "I know he's going to make the play when he needs to. I have no doubt in him. I'm going to keep slinging him the ball."
The book on Seahawks rookie tight end Will Dissly coming out of Washington was that he's a strong blocker. He proved he's much more than that Sunday.
The fourth-round draft pick twice burst past linebacker Bradley Chubb, the fifth overall pick in the draft, first for a 15-yard TD catch and then for a 66-yard gain that set up a field goal.
"It was just a cool opportunity to go out there that first game and do something special," said Dissly, who caught three passes for 105 yards.
"He was on fire," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. "He was like Mike Ditka out there."
Shaquill Griffin's twin brother, rookie linebacker Shaquem Griffin, started the game with K.J. Wright out following minor knee surgery. It's another chapter in the remarkable story of Griffin, who had his left hand amputated as a child.
The Griffins had back-to-back tackles on Seattle's second defensive series. Shaquill had six tackles and Shaquem two.
"There is no better feeling," Shaquem said of playing in the pros alongside his twin.
Follow Arnie Melendrez Stapleton on Twitter: http://twitter.com/arniestapleton