When training camp opened last year, Earl Thomas was still recovering from shoulder surgery, while Kam Chancellor was a no-show because of a contract dispute. Thomas made it back for the start of the season, though with limited practice and no preseason games under his belt, but Chancellor's holdout extended two games into the regular season.
Between Thomas' injury and Chancellor's holdout, safety went from being one of the Seahawks' biggest strengths in past years to a pretty big question mark during training camp, but all signs point to things going back to normal when camp opens this weekend. Thomas is healthy and took part in offseason workouts, while Chancellor says he is "in a great place" after last year's issues, and Seahawks coach Pete Carroll has raved about Chancellor's leadership this offseason.
"He has been awesome," Carroll said. "He has been such a great leader for us. He has been just on point. Really, he's got the experience, the wisdom of listening and hearing and watching what's going on. He can sense what's going on with the young guys and he's quick to straighten them out, get them on the right path. He's got a big voice here; when he speaks, everybody shuts up and listens, and he's just as tough as you can get in terms of playing the game. He has practiced every day, he has been at it. He has been a thousand-percenter for us, he has been great. It's been a fantastic offseason for him."
During offseason workouts, Chancellor saw potential for growth not just in his position group, but in the secondary as a whole.
"I think we've advanced together, took another step together as a unit," Chancellor said. "Just pointing out the mistakes we've had in the past or faults we've had in the past, I think we've pointed them out and talked about them and found ways to fix them as a unit.
"I think this is a new year and guys are just healed up. The year before, guys were banged up. We went into the season and did what we did. We just got a little more time to heal up now and get stronger."
|Returning starters:||Kam Chancellor|
|Additions:||Tanner McEvory (UDFA)|
Tyvis Powell (UDFA)
The initial 53-man roster included five safeties: Earl Thomas, Dion Bailey, Kelcie McCray, DeShawn Shead* and Steven Terrell. *--Shead also played cornerback in 2016.
What's At Stake In Training Camp
As has been the case since Chancellor took over a starting role in 2011, there is little mystery when it comes to the two starting jobs at safety, but as always there will be good competition for jobs behind Thomas and Chancellor. Kelcie McCray played well starting three games in place of an injured Chancellor late last season, and is also a key special teams player, while Steven Terrell also provides experience and special teams value. The Seahawks added a pair of talented rookies after the draft, signing Tyvis Powell and Tanner McEvoy as undrafted free agents.
And perhaps most intriguing is the addition of Brandon Browner, who is listed as a cornerback, but who will also play a hybrid safety role, according to Carroll. How the Seahawks use Browner will be one of the more interesting defensive subplots to camp and the preseason.
"He's a football player, so we're trying to find a place where he can help contribute and bring that toughness and competitiveness that he has to add to the team," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. "His attitude is terrific about it—he's playing safety is what he's doing, and we're moving him around and doing some different stuff. It gives us a real special player with unique qualities, which we always love."
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Check out the best photos of Seahawks safeties to come from the team's 2016 offseason program.