Earl Thomas ruled out, will miss first game as a Seahawk
RENTON – The Seahawks have ruled Earl Thomas out for Sunday’s game in Tampa Bay because of a strained hamstring. It is the first game he will miss in his career, ending a streak of 106 regular-season starts, a franchise record.
Seattle is still holding out hope cornerback Deshawn Shead and center Justin Britt will be able to play. Each is listed as questionable.
Shead left last week’s game with a strained hamstring, an injury he first felt the day before the game. Shead did not practice this week, but he did work out after Friday’s practice.
“He had an extraordinary workout,” coach Pete Carroll said. “He’s as close as you can get. We’ll see what happens. He’ll go all the way to game day.”
Britt suffered an ankle injury last week and has not practiced this week. His absence could loom large against Tampa Bay, where defensive tackle Gerald McCoy is one of the Bucs’ better players. If Britt is unable to play, rookie Joey Hunt will start in his place.
“Joey has been getting all the work this week,” Carroll said. “He’s ready to go if we need him.”
If Britt doesn’t start, he is expected to be in uniform as the backup center.
Thomas was the fourth Seahawk to be ruled out for this game. Running back C.J. Prosise (shoulder blade), defensive end Michael Bennett (knee) and running back Troymaine Pope (ankle) will also not play.
Linebacker Brock Coyle is doubtful because of a foot injury. If he is out, Kevin Pierre-Louis is ready to start at strongside linebacker.
Wide receiver Tanner McEvoy (toe) and linebacker Damontre Moore (foot) are listed as questionable for Seattle.
Thomas was considered doubtful when the week began, and was officially ruled out before the team left for Florida on Friday afternoon. He has not missed a game since being drafted by the Seahawks in 2010. He’s the only starting free safety that Carroll has had in seven seasons as head coach. In that time, Seattle has started five different strong safeties and 11 different cornerbacks.
For the Buccaneers, cornerback Evan Smith is out with a knee injury while four other players are listed as questionable: RB Jacquizz Rodgers (foot), CB Brent Grimes (quadriceps), TE Luke Stocker (ankle) and CB Alterraun Verner, whose absence from Friday’s practice was no injury related.