Sunday’s win against the Atlanta Falcons was a complete one and the kind of victory that both this team and its fans can feel really good about. Adding to the good feeling is the increasing likelihood that Percy Harvin returns to fact his former team this week. When you throw in a loss by the 49ers and the fact that the starting offensive tackles are on the way back it’s fair to say that everything is going according to plan.
However, there was one piece of bad news to come out of Seattle’s 33-10 victory in Atlanta. Starting cornerback and registered Legion of Boom member Brandon Browner is now dealing with a groin ailment that is likely to keep him out multiple weeks. In 8 starts this year Browner has one interception and ten passes defended while playing his typical brand of tough press coverage. He will be a big loss, but luckily the secondary is one of the units on this team stocked with the most quality depth. When a man goes down another must step up and in this case that man in Walter Thurmond.
Walter Thurmond has been with the Seahawks since 2010 but he has only started 7 games in his career. Thurmond was always thought to be a starter quality talent but health has often been a concern. He has only played 32 of a possible 58 games in his career and as a result has never had the time to settle in as a regular starter. With Brandon Browner’s injury a window has finally opened for Thurmond.
The chance for Thurmond to emerge is a double edged sword for Seattle as the young cornerback has the potential to help this team immensely, but also the potential to price himself out of the Seahawks market on his next contract. Given that the Seahawks are trying to win this year they can live with Thurmond playing so well they can’t afford him in the future. That’s the price of doing business as an elite team.
It seems in the tone of this article that Thurmond breaking out now that he has this opportunity is a given. Of course that isn’t the case. However, there are some definite signs that it’s probable. According to PFF, Thurmond grades out as a +4.0 corner in 2013, a number that is actually higher than Browner’s. In the two games where he has gotten the lion’s share of the snaps (Week 10 & Week 2) he has produced grades of +3.1 and +2.6. He has been targeted more than either Sherman or Browner (43 times) and has allowed fewer yards than either of them. The big plays aren’t there yet, he doesn’t have an interception in his NFL career, but last week’s forced fumble and recovery show that they might just come. Walter Thurmond has been a starting quality corner masquerading as a mere slot corner in 2013. Now the jig is up.