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Earl Thomas returns to Seahawks practice

 

By 247 sports Seattle

Seattle Seahawks safety Earl Thomas was wearing pads and a red non-contact jersey at practice on Tuesday, a step forward in his return from offseason shoulder surgery.

Thomas has actually had a difficult time dealing with the injury, an experience that was new to him as he’s been a durable player throughout his career.

“It’s been very tough,” Thomas said after practice on Tuesday. “A lot of negative thoughts in my mind. I was debating if I still loved it at one point. But, being out here today, it reassured me that I love it. I just need to be out here. I just need to be involved.”

While recovering from the injury might have caused Thomas to question his love for football, the doubts went away when he got back around his team again.

“As soon as I got around my teammates, as soon as I got back on the field,” Thomas said. “Today was the perfect example for me — I felt like a little kid again just running around out there. It felt good.”

Thomas sustained the injury in the NFC Championship game last season, suffering a torn labrum and a dislocated shoulder. Thomas played through the injury in the Super Bowl, then had surgery in late February. Thomas says the adversity of the situation helped him in the long run.

“I just think the way I play the game, I think I was a little burnt out,” Thomas said. “I needed this. I hated that it turned out to be an injury, but just battling through all those adverse situations, it got me back to where I need to be.”

The experience has reinforced the feeling for Thomas that love for the game is an important factor in getting through the physical difficulties.

“You gotta love it,” Thomas said. “You’re banging your body. I think your body is your everything. It’s your machine. You give it up for the guys around you. This game has been good to me, and I want to put as much as I can into the game.”

After months of recovery, Thomas is clearly getting closer to being at full strength.

“I’m just happy I can raise my arm and catch the ball at the highest point now,” Thomas said. “You know, my arm shrunk on me. This is my first major injury, and I had a hard time dealing with it at first.”

The original timetable for recovery from the surgery was six to eight months, leaving some question as to whether or not Thomas would return for the start of the 2015 season. He says he’s still not sure if he’ll be cleared to play in Week 1.

“I don’t know,” Thomas said. “I’m just happy that I had a chance to go out there today. My teammates were happy that I was out there. It just felt good to run around.

“I’m not sure. I’m just happy that they’re taking the handcuffs off me and let me kind of do my job. That’s all I can control right now.”

Thomas said he showed himself today that he can be ready for the season opener at St. Louis on September 13.

“To me, I think I’ve seen all I need to see today,” Thomas said. “I was flying around. But we’ll see.”

On Monday, Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said that the target date for Thomas’ return was still Week 1.

“We’re on it right now,” Carroll said. “We’re trying to gauge how many days it’s going to take to get him back and try to figure out how to do this with him. That’s very, very much a topical issue for us right now — trying to make sure we can get enough days to get him right, get him the work he needs so he can play. We’re shooting for the opener.”

For now, Thomas is still wearing that red jersey, although it’s not bothering him that much.

“It’s not tough,” Thomas said. “I look good in it, so I’m good.”