Walter Thurmond. The second-year cornerback from Oregon waded back into practice on Tuesday after missing more than three weeks with a high ankle sprain.
Today, he made a splash – and got his lip bloodied while doing it.
“I disappointed myself,” Thurmond said in a say-what statement after the two-hour practice. “I dropped a couple of picks out there shaking this rust off. Looking forward to a better practice tomorrow.”
The offense isn’t, as Thurmond’s making-up-for-lost-time portfolio was packed with impressive plays while working as the nickel back with the No. 1 defense.
Thurmond blitzed and the play was whistled a sack on one snap. On another, he closed on a pass in half-a-blink and tipped it incomplete with a well-timing, well-placed dive. On still another, his presence forced rookie wide receiver Ricardo Lockette to shy away from a pass over the middle. Thurmond finished on a high note as well, breaking up a pass that was intended for wide receiver Golden Tate in the two-minute drill that concluded practice.
“They gave me some more reps today,” he said. “I just felt real comfortable getting my feet under me again. It feels good to be back.”
Thurmond also looked sharp at the start of training camp, when he was working at right cornerback with the No. 1 defense. Then he injured his ankle on the second day.
“I feel healthy now,” he said. “I’m not even thinking about it. I’m just going out and playing football.”
And making plays.
The No. 1 defense. At least what was left of it. With defensive end Chris Clemons, linebackers David Hawthorne and Leroy Hill and strong safety Kam Chancellor sitting out, as well as linebacker Leroy Hill being limited, they were replaced by – in order – Raheem Brock, rookie K.J. Wright, rookie Malcolm Smith and second-year man Josh Pinkard.
The unit might have been missing five starters, but they didn’t miss much in practice.
The “starters” were especially impressive in the 7-on-7 drill, as Marcus Trufant, Kelly Jennings and Thurmond broke up passes and QB Josh Portis was forced to scramble on another play because the coverage was so tight across the field.
PLAYS OF THE DAY
Defense: So many from which to chose, starting with Thurmond impressive break on the ball for one of his deflections and also including rookie cornerback Byron Maxwell tipping a Charlie Whitehurst pass that was intended for rookie wide receiver Kris Durham and then intercepting the carom. But let’s go with one that came earlier in practice, as just-arrived linebacker David Vobora played off a block with one hand while reaching out to thump the running back with the other – and behind the line of scrimmage. The effort prompted linebackers coach Ken Norton to offer, “That’s good work 40 (Vobora’s number). Nice hands.”
Offense: And speaking of nice hands – and a nice throw – Tarvaris Jackson hit Tate with a laser of a pass along the sideline. The pass had to be on the mark, because cornerback Kennard Cox had good coverage on the play.
IN AND OUT
The release of defensive lineman Kentwan Balmer earlier in the day allowed the team to re-sign Vai Taua. Practice was already in progress when the rookie running back emerged from the locker room, but coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider took time to come over and shake hands – and Carroll even gave Taua a pat on the helmet.
In addition to the four defensive starters, running back Marshawn Lynch also sat out. He joined a group that already included tight end John Carlson, left tackle Russell Okung and defensive linemen Dexter Davis, Pierre Allen and A.J. Schable. But backup center Mike Gibson was back after sitting out Tuesday.
The players will practice Thursday morning, their final full workout before flying to Denver on Friday for Saturday night’s preseason game against the Broncos.
The first roster cut – to 80 players – must be completed by Tuesday. The cut to 53 players must be made by Saturday, Sept. 3, after the final preseason game.
YOU DON’T SAY
“I got to learn the defense better, seeing different situations that the offense is going to try and put us in and just really getting a better feel for the knowledge of the game. So even being hurt I still benefitted from it.” – Thurmond