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Two-Minute Drill: Healthy Walter Thurmond pushes competition at cornerback
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With the Seahawks final preseason game on Thursday night, the team combined Competition Wednesday and Turnover Thursday into one day, hopefully preparing themselves for later in the year when they play on Thursday night in the regular season.
Due to the shortened week, the team doubled up on a Tuesday practice of preseason week four with the themes of "Competition Wednesday" and "Turnover Thursday".
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It's hard to imagine a competition at one of the most loaded positions on the Seahawks roster, but that's exactly what a healthy Walter Thurmond provides.
"It feels great," Thurmond said after Tuesday's practice session. "I'm able to solidly compete for a starting job. That's the mindset I have and that's what I take day to day."
It's difficult not to talk about health when you talk about Thurmond, the 2010 fourth-round draft pick by head coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider. He showed promise his rookie year when stepping in for the oft-injured Marcus Trufant, but his 2011 season was cut short by a broken leg - a leg he re-injured the following spring that forced him to start the 2012 season on the team's physically unable to perform (PUP) list. He was active for two games a year ago before a hamstring injury landed him on injured reserve to close out the season.
"In my opinion, you have to keep that positive mindset and really just persevere through whatever life throws at you," Thurmond said. "Life is going to be hard and nothing is going to come easy in this world. I don't regret any of my injuries.
"All the injuries that I've had have made me into a better man. Not just a better football player, but a better person at the end of the day."
Now in his fourth season, the fully-healthy Thurmond is looking to crack into the club's cornerback rotation that features All-Pro Richard Sherman, 2011 Pro Bowler Brandon Browner, and veteran Antoine Winfield, who the Seahawks signed over the offseason to fill the nickel corner role.
"I love the competition," said Thurmond. "I wouldn't have it any other way. I don't want a man ahead of me to get hurt and get a spot that way. I want to beat him outright."
Through five days of camp, Thurmond has been working behind Winfield as the No. 2 nickel corner. Defensive coordinator Dan Quinn recently dubbed the battle as one of the better competitions in camp. Thurmond's talent is there, that much is evident. Now, it's a matter working his way onto the field.
"The competition just fuels me and pushes me at the end of the day," Thurmond said. "We have great corners. We have a lot of great depth and a lot of the guys on our team can start anywhere in the League. It's a testament to Pete Carroll and John Schneider and what they've done here, being able to get that talent in."
After Tuesday's practice, Carroll framed the type of cornerback his coaching staff is drawn to and Thurmond fit the bill, providing the long, athletic, rangy and most of all confident player that Carroll described.
"We need tough-minded guys," Carroll said. "Guys that have been in position in their sporting careers where they've been on the hot seat and they know how to bounce back.
"It's a very deep group of guys and we're really excited about them."
Below is a little bit more from my Tuesday conversation with Thurmond:
Have you put on any added weight since coming to the Seahawks in 2010? You look a little bigger these days.
Actually, I'm about the same. I came in at like 190 pounds, and I'm about 191 or 192 right now. So i think I've just filled out a little more, getting that "grown-man strength" in, you know.
I saw you getting some extra work fielding punts at the end of practice, as well throughout the practice session itself. Is that something you feel confident and comfortable doing?
"Most definitely. You have a lot more freedom than kickoff return as far as fair-catching the ball. Guys aren't really coming down as hot as they are on kickoff. I really just like having the ball in my hands to make plays. That's just another avenue for me to get the ball in my hands."
Seahawks fans have seen flashes of what you can do on the field, but nothing for an extended period of time. How would you describe yourself as a player and what can fans expect to see out of you?
"A physical play-maker. I like to get up to the line of scrimmage and jam guys and just try to be aggressive out there. Everything is about the ball here and that's what I've been doing since high school and since I first started playing football is getting after the ball. I just like to find any way to try to get that rock."
Do you feel more comfortable playing on the outside or the inside nickel position?
"I feel very comfortable with both, actually. They're both two different beasts. The inside is kind of more like a linebacker and the outside is just playing natural corner. I feel completely comfortable playing both, and I'm competing to play both. That's really the mindset that I'm carrying, really just trying to be on the field."