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Focus on: DeShawn Shead
DeShawn Shead has spent his first two seasons with the Seahawks waiting for this moment.
Signed as a free agent out of Portland State last year, the 6-foot-2, 220-pound defensive back spent the first 12 games of his rookie season on the practice squad. He was signed to the 53-man roster on Dec. 5, but was inactive for the final four regular-season games and both playoff games.
Shead also spent the first 11 games of this season on the practice squad, a backup to the backups for the best starting secondary in the NFL. But right cornerback Brandon Browner is out indefinitely with a groin injury and Walter Thurmond, who replaced Browner in the Seahawks’ pre-bye week win over the Minnesota Vikings, is serving a league-imposed four-game suspension. So depth was needed.
And Shead, who was signed to the 53-man roster Wednesday, provides that. As well as the versatility to step in on special teams, he also provides depth at safety and corner – where Byron Maxwell is now starting on the right side and Jeremy Lane is the nickel back.
“This definitely feels real good,” Shead said. “I definitely waited for my opportunity, and I’m definitely ready to make an impact on this team. So I’m excited. I’m ready to roll.”
Because Shead is capable of doing so many things, what does he do best?
“I’d say I’m more comfortable at corner,” said Shead, who has the size to play safety but also the coverage skills to play cornerback. “But anywhere they put me, I’m ready to work. I feel comfortable now at free safety. I’ve been working a little at strong safety, as well. And I’ve done a lot of nickel on the scout team.
“So anywhere in the defensive backfield, I can play. And definitely on special teams. I love special teams, first and foremost.”
And the situation surrounding this chance that Shead has waited so patiently for is not lost on him: “Monday Night Football.” Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints. The teams with the best records in the NFC.
“It’s a wonderful opportunity – Monday night, big show, the lights are on,” Shead said through a smile. “Definitely a great opportunity to play in this game.”
“But I look at all the factors, and Seattle was definitely my best choice,” Shead said. “Seattle told me they were going to look at me at corner and safety. As opposed to some teams that said wanted me just as a safety. So definitely there was more opportunity here.”
There still is, even though another team was looking at Shead before the Seahawks elevated him to the 53-man roster this week.
“Just practicing with this secondary and being around them, I learn so much,” Shead said. “I grow more and more. Each week I get better just being in that secondary and it’s definitely a wonderful opportunity to be part of this secondary.”
Especially now that he will be part of this secondary on game day. Shead is not only ready, he’s prepared.
“I’d be comfortable if they needed me to start on Monday night,” he said. “I’m definitely ready. I’m prepared, because I prepare every week as if I was the starter. So I’ll definitely be ready to play in any role they might need me.”