- Terry Blount, ESPN Staff Writer
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SEATTLE -- Earl Thomas is going to hear about from his teammates after getting tackled by the punter Friday night.
Thomas, Seattle’s All-Pro free safety, proved he is a viable option to take over the punt returning duties, even though some people fear he might get hurt doing it. Thomas has said all along he’s serious about doing it.
“Eventually, people are going to start believing what I’m saying,” Thomas said. “I don’t have any fear. I’m just happy to be back there and I want to make something happen. That’s why I rarely will fair catch.”
It’s that tendency to play with reckless abandon that worries some fans, and even a few teammates. Strong safety Kam Chancellor, who looks at Thomas like a brother, said last week he doesn’t want Thomas back there on punts, believing it’s too big a risk.
Thomas doesn’t look at it that way. He lives for big plays like the one Friday night.
“It’s about staying true to yourself and knowing what you can do,” Thomas said. “I just want to help impact the game. But it wasn’t just me. It was the team. They open up the holes for me. I made the right [moves] when I had to, initially on the takeoff. But if it wasn’t for that big gap, I wouldn’t be able to do anything."
Thomas is one of the fastest players on the team, a man with extraordinary athletic gifts. But he’s still going to hear about Chicago punter Pat O'Donnell stopping him. Even quarterback Russell Wilson brought it up.
“I’m surprised [Thomas] got tackled, actually, and I think it was by the punter,” Wilson said smiling. “So I’m going to pick on him. But he’s so talented. He’s so agile and so quick.”
Which is why the coaches have Thomas back there doing his thing. They believe it’s worth the risk.