With just two preseason games left, we still don’t know for sure how the punt return situation will unfold.
But what should be clear is that any decisions made will not be out of concern over whether any player — specifically Earl Thomas — will get hurt.
Pete Carroll was asked about that during his regular Monday appearance on ESPN 710 Seattle, and reiterated what he has said several other times —- he is not worried about putting Thomas in any perceived danger.
“I’m not worried about Earl back there,” Carroll said. “He might not return every punt all the way through the season, but he’s really anxious to do it. He’s a great, competitive kid. Has a great attitude about it which is part of it. You can talk about people getting hurt doing anything — they can get hurt stepping off the curb. And I think that’s a real second-guess thought.”
Carroll went on to say that “you guys can worry about all the worries. You know that Earl and Kam (Chancellor) lead our team in tackles in kickoffs — they had 19 last year. You want me to take them off that, too? .. I just don’t live in the world of worrying about what’s going to go wrong.”
But in terms of whether the job is Thomas’, Carroll said he’s not ruling out anybody.
Right now, the other main 0ption appears to be receiver Bryan Walters, who had two returns for 33 yards against the Chargers Friday night.
Here’s what Carroll said after practice today about the punt return situation.
“We haven’t had very many chances to tell much,” he said. “Earl seems comfortable back there. B-Dub [Bryan Walters] has done a great job. A couple of other guys may get their chances. We haven’t had enough opportunities to tell in a game right now.”
Asked about Walters’ performance in that role against the Chargers, Carroll said: “He was awesome. Everybody is fired up about what he brought. He was really a valuable player in that game, you could just tell the way he was jumping around and making things happen. His great decisions on short balls that save us yardage – and make something out of it – it just showed his savvy and experience. You could tell he’s returned a lot of kicks in his career, and in his lifetime. He’s very comfortable back there.”
I also asked special teams coach Brian Schneider about the punt return job today.
“Earl’s doing a great job,” Schneider said. “He’s fielding the ball really clean, very confidently. So he’s done a nice job. But we’ve got Doug Baldwin who can do it, Sherm (Richard Sherman) can do it, Percy (Harvin) can do it. Walters can do it. “We’ve got alot of guys who can do it, we just haven’t had too many situations in the game come up. But we are just keeping it (the competition) going.”
One player you can rule out of the punt return job is Paul Richardson as Carroll said he is only being considered as a kickoff returner at the moment.
“We’re thinking of him more as a kickoff returner, he’s working there,” Carroll said. “He’s in the mix. He could play in the game at kick returner right now.”
Harvin, though, is expected to be the main kickoff returner.