By Bill Swartz
General manager John Schneider and coach Pete Carroll have spent the past three years building a Seahawks roster capable of absorbing the losses of front-line players. That depth is put to the test this week with the suspension of starting cornerback Brandon Browner and veteran Marcus Trufant’s hamstring injury.
All of the sudden players most Seahawks fans haven’t seen or heard of are moving into pivotal roles for Sunday’s game against the Cardinals. Young guys like Portland State University alum DeShawn Shead are eager to show they belong in the NFL.
“It definitely means a lot to me because I’ve been working hard every week and preparing like I am going to play,” Shead said before Wednesday’s practice. “I can play corner or nickel. Even if one of the safeties goes down, I’ll be ready to go in for them.”
Shead was called up from the practice squad on Wednesday. He already had several family members coming up to CenturyLink Field to watch the game. Now, there’s a strong chance they’ll at least see him covering punts and kickoffs.
He also planned to phone his Portland State coach and former Husky, Nigel Burton, to share the news.
Another man with roots in the state of Oregon will make his first Seahawks start in more than a year. Walter Thurmond took over for and injured Trufant early last season, only to break his leg against Cleveland and have Richard Sherman step in for him.
“Everyone on this team is pushing each other to get better,” said Thurmond, a former Oregon Duck. “You have to watch your back in practice every day and can’t slack off because someone behind you is ready to play and waiting for an opportunity as well. I think the depth on the team is very great, especially the defensive back group.”
Thurmond is the most experienced of the bunch and definitely excited to take on one of the league’s top players, Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald.
“I’m really going to have to mix things up,” Thurmond said. “Personally I think he’s the best receiver in the game. He runs great routes and really doesn’t give you the same thing every time he’s out there. You really have to play games against a guy like that.”
Jeremy Lane has been a solid special teams performer. On Sunday he’ll take on the job of covering Arizona’s slot receivers. Byron Maxwell is a bigger, physical corner who might eventually have to sub for Sherman, depending on his appeal of his four-game suspension.
While Carroll admits he’s concerned about having to use so many inexperienced players at one time, he’s also expecting them to follow the team’s philosophy — the next man needs to step up and make a play.