By Danny O’Neil
Don’t call it a comeback – Walter Thurmond has been here three years.
But Thurmond will enter this season the healthiest he has been since the Seahawks drafted him in 2010 and ready to play a role both in Seattle’s secondary and on special teams.
Thurmond made that clear Thursday against Oakland when he punctuated a strong month of practices with a first half that included an interception and a 28-yard punt return in the Seahawks’ 22-6 victory at CenturyLink Field.
“It has been a great preseason,” Thurmond said. “One-hundred percent healthy.”
Cornerback Walter Thurmond hauled in a one-handed interception Thursday night, helping his bid for playing time in Seattle’s crowded secondary. (AP) | More photos
Forgive Thurmond if he looks around to find some wood to knock on given his history. He suffered a serious knee injury as a senior at Oregon in 2009, tearing three ligaments. He was still rehabbing from surgery when Seattle drafted him in the fourth round.
The next year, he suffered a high ankle sprain in training camp, came back and suffered a broken leg in his second start. He suffered the same injury seven months later and began last year on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list. He came back toward the end of the year only to suffer a hamstring injury and finish the season on injured reserve for the second straight year.
This year has already been different, though.
“It’s the first time we really felt like he was really able to really apply himself and physically be ready and meet all of the challenges,” coach Pete Carroll said. “He had a very good preseason.”
Thurmond demonstrated an ability to defend slot receivers, play right cornerback and return punts. He’s been competing against Antoine Winfield to serve as the fifth defensive back in Seattle’s nickel defense.
Is Thurmond someone who will provide depth in the secondary or will he have a role as he enters the final year of his contract?
“We’ll see,” Carroll said. “He’s going to play. Everybody that’s on the roster is going to play. It’s hard to keep him sitting down. He can play corner, he can play in the nickel spot and do all the special-teams stuff and is a really good returner. That’s a really good one-two punch is the punt return with Golden (Tate) and Walter. You’ll see both of those guys playing in games.”
Bruce gets loose
Bruce Irvin, linebacker? It was a question mark when training camp began and Seattle’s first-round pick from 2012 was changing positions from defensive end.
Linebacker Bruce Irvin! It was an exclamation point after he chased down Oakland quarterback Terrelle Pryor in the second quarter, Irvin initially heading toward the running back before realizing Pryor had executed a play fake and was trying to escape out the backfield with the ball.
“I saw Pryor running like the police was chasing him,” Irvin said, “so I knew he had something.”
Irvin ran him down, which is darn impressive because Pryor’s speed is one of his best attributes. That was a turning point for Irvin in Thursday’s game.
“It started off a little slow,” Irvin said. “I was thinking too much. As I kept playing, I got into it and I felt comfortable.”
It was Irvin’s most extensive playing time this preseason after he missed the first two games because of a groin injury, but he’ll now be away from the team the next four games, serving a suspension for the use of a banned substance. He’ll be eligible to return to practice Week 5 before Seattle plays at Indianapolis.
The good news for Stephen Williams: It doesn’t sound like there’s much doubt that the receiver will make the team’s 53-man roster.
The bad news: There might be a question whether he’s ready to play after hitting his head hard against the turf during his 50-yard reception in the first quarter of Thursday’s game.
“He kind of got that whiplash thing,” Carroll said. “Because he had a little bit of a knock before, we just were very cautious with him. Ten days before we go, hopefully he’ll be all right. It was concussion concerns anyway.”
• Rookie offensive tackle Michael Bowie left the game with a shoulder injury. His arm was in a sling afterward and Carroll indicated the injury may be serious.