Earl Thomas has shown throughout this season that he hasn't lost a step following the leg injury that ended his 2016 season early, and on Tuesday Thomas was recognized for another outstanding season in a career full of them, being named the starting free safety on the 2018 NFC Pro Bowl team.
Thomas is one of four Seahawks to earn Pro Bowl honors this season, with linebacker Bobby Wagner, quarterback Russell Wilson and tight end Jimmy Graham also being named to the NFC squad.
Thomas, 28, has 71 tackles, six passes defensed, two interceptions and a forced fumble in 12 games this season. Most notably, he has provided two of the biggest plays of the season in two of Seattle's more memorable victories, forcing a fumble at the goal line in a Week 5 win over the Rams and returning an interception 78 yards for a score in a shootout victory over the Texans.
"It's just another phenomenal statement about the guy's will to win, his grit, his competitiveness," Carroll said after Thomas knocked the ball away from Rams running back Todd Gurley at the goal line. "He will just never let up. He keeps on battling. It is who Earl is, so I love that he has had those moments where he has illustrated in such unique fashion that he can do those type of things. He's just an extraordinary player."
And as always, Thomas' greatest value often comes not in the plays Thomas makes, but in the deep passes opponents don't even attempt because of his presence on the back end of the defense.
Wagner, who has 122 total tackles and a league-high 89 solo tackles, has emerged this season as a legitimate Defensive Player of the Year candidate.
"He's making plays left and right, all over the place," linebacker K.J. Wright said last month. "I believe he should (be Defensive Player of the Year)… You've got a guy who led the league in tackles last year, top 5 right now, (he has) interceptions, sacks.
"His mentality all throughout the week, just being on the details, coming in early, leaving late. Each game, I don't believe he's had less than eight tackles. He's just really good. Everything he's doing out there is impressive, and he should definitely be talked about for Player of the Year."
Wilson, meanwhile, has had to do more than ever this season, serving as the team's leading rusher with 521 yards while putting up some of the biggest passing numbers of his career, including 3,669 yards and 30 touchdowns through 14 games. Wilson has either thrown or rushed for all but one of Seattle's offensive touchdowns this season.
"I don't know how you could carry it much more, numbers-wise," Carroll said. "He's having a fantastic football season, and he's doing marvelous stuff. It's great to see him with good, fortunate health and all of that, we can see the difference in it and it's so obvious between this year and last year, and he had a great offseason and it's showing up in his conditioning throughout the year. I don't know, we would be in a different mode without him for sure, and he's a fantastic player."
In his third year with the Seahawks, Graham has emerged as the red zone threat the Seahawks were hoping to add when they acquired him in a 2015 trade. Graham has scored a team-high nine touchdowns, and now has the most receiving touchdowns by a Seahawks tight end both in a season and a career, and is also the team's all-time leader in receiving yards by a tight end.
"Jimmy Graham is one of the best players in the National Football League," Wilson said after Graham added another touchdown in Seattle's win over the Eagles. "He has been for a long time. He's hotter than ever. He's heating up. He's hot as can be. He's making plays, and he's just doing his job really, really well. He made a great catch on the back shoulder throw, he gets in the end zone. He's a touchdown machine. He's great."
Wagner, who earned his fourth straight Pro-Bowl nod, is one of two middle linebackers on the NFC roster along with starter Luke Kuechly. Wilson, who has been a Pro Bowler every year of his six-year career except last year, is one of three quarterbacks on the NFC team along with starter Carson Wentz and Drew Brees. Graham, a five-time Pro Bowler, joins starter Zach Ertz at tight end.
This is the seventh year in a row the Seahawks have had a least four players earn Pro-Bowl honors. The Seahawks also had four players selected as Pro Bowl alternates: receiver Doug Baldwin, defensive end Michael Bennett, safety Kam Chancellor and kick returner Tyler Lockett.
The Seahawks also had four players initially selected for last year's Pro Bowl, Wagner, Bennett, Cliff Avril and Richard Sherman, but ended up sending seven players to the game, matching a franchise high, with K.J. Wright, Graham and Baldwin all added to the team after initially being named alternates.
The 2018 Pro Bowl will take place at noon on January 28 in Orlando, marking the second straight year of playing the game at Camping World Stadium after moving the game from Honolulu, Hawaii.
Linebacker Bobby Wagner, Safety Earl Thomas, Quarterback Russell Wilson, and Tight End Jimmy Graham have been voted to the 2018 Pro Bowl. Wide receiver Doug Baldwin, defensive end Michael Bennett, safety Kam Chancellor and kick returner Tyler Lockett have been named as alternates.