When Seahawks free safety Earl Thomas had shoulder surgery this offseason, missing the start of the 2015 season seemed like a possibility. But for Thomas, who never missed a game in high school or college, and who has yet to miss one in his NFL career, sitting out Sunday's game or any going forward wasn't an option he was willing to accept.
"I gotta keep the streak alive," Thomas said. "It means a lot. I love this game. I'm just excited to go out there and play football."
Thomas is expected to keep the streak alive in St. Louis, and despite not playing in the preseason, he has been a full participant in practice over the past two weeks and both he and Seahawks coach Pete Carroll say he's ready to go.
"No limitations," Thomas said. "I'm going to go out there and let it loose."
Well, maybe a tiny limitation in the form of the harness he'll be wearing on his shoulder. Thomas said he hates wearing the harness because it limits his ability to go up and high-point the ball, but there may also be a bit of gamesmanship involved. Asked if the harness limits what he can do physically, Thomas deadpanned, "If it's going to talk the opposing offense into throwing my way, yeah."
And Thomas is not concerned about hitting with his surgically repaired shoulder despite not getting a chance to test it in a preseason game.
"I've been hitting bags and doing a lot of rehab, putting a lot of pressure on my shoulder, so I'm very confident in it," he said.
>>> READ: Dion Bailey To Start For Kam Chancellor
Even if Thomas is the same, physically, one thing will be different for him Sunday. For the first time since 2010 when Lawyer Milloy was Seattle's starting strong safety, Thomas will open a season next to a safety not named Kam Chancellor.
"It's very different, but it's his choice, his decision, his life, so we'll see how that plays out," Thomas said of Chancellor's absence.
No Chancellor means a bit more studying, Thomas says, but other than having to make sure he and Dion Bailey are on the same page from a communication standpoint, little will change for Thomas.
"I don't think so," Thomas said. "We never really change up what we do on defense. If anything, it made me a little sharper, because I depended on Kam a little bit more to say, 'hey, you need to get over on this side or that side.' So it put me in my playbook a little bit more, because I rely on instinct and Kam was more the mental guy."
As for Thomas' thoughts on Bailey, the All-Pro safety likes what he has seen from the youngster.
"He's very aggressive," Thomas said. "He has that mentality that we like in our defense. He brings that aggressive nature that we like, just as Kam did. So I don't really think we'll miss a beat."
Instead of No. 24, the Seahawks running back wore No. 31 on the practice field.