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Earl Thomas hoping to be Seahawks’ punt returner


RENTON – Who will return punts?

It’s a question that was posed once Golden Tate left in free agency, and there’s no clear answer as the Seahawks approach their first preseason game.

That’s not for a lack of options, though. There’s no shortage of willing candidates, and among them is Earl Thomas. Seattle’s All-Pro free safety was the player that coach Pete Carroll said would be first in line to return punts, and it’s a job Thomas is hoping to secure even if it carries some added risk of injury.

“Somebody asked me, ‘You’re not scared to get hurt?’ But at the same time, man, I’ve been doing this,” Thomas told 710 ESPN Seattle’s “Brock and Salk” on Tuesday.

“I’m an athlete. I’ve been returning punts; I did it in college and I’m excited about the opportunity. I love that rush. That’s why I like doing one-on-ones because it gives me those competitive juices. Same with punt return.”

Thomas had a 14.5-yard average on four punt returns in college.

He has plenty of competition. The list includes cornerback Richard Sherman, receivers Percy Harvin, Doug Baldwin, Paul Richardson and Bryan Walters as well as cornerback Phillip Adams. Thomas, Sherman, Baldwin, Walters and Adams all fielded punts following Tuesday’s practice.