Jan 11, 2014; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Seahawks free safety Earl Thomas (29) celebrates after a play against the New Orleans Saints during the first half of the 2013 NFC divisional playoff football game at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

Earl Thomas to return punts? Maybe not the best idea

At the end of the Seahawks opening OTA on Tuesday, Pete Carroll said that Earl Thomas would return punts for Seattle if the season started “today.”

Thank goodness the season didn’t start on Tuesday because that would be an awfully risky proposition.

Not that Thomas isn’t capable of returning punts. The 5-foot-10, 202-pound safety has the hands and speed (a 4.43 40-yard dash) to be a very successful punt returner in the NFL.

At the University of Texas, Thomas returned four punts for 58 yards, an average of 14.5 yards per return.

But putting one of the best players on the league’s best defense at risk to get blasted by over-eager opposing special teams seems like a stretch, even for Pete Carroll.

Interestingly, Thomas is all for the idea and wouldn’t mind the duty at all.

Glad to see he is on board, but it would still probably be a better idea to have an offensive player return punts and kickoffs as well.

Consider that Thomas is going to be playing physical defense for the first three downs prior to the punt, then he would have to move back 40 yards to return punts.

And while it doesn’t happen often, sometimes plays like this happen. I know that hit was illegal, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen and punt returners get hit a lot.

Sometimes, they get hit like this. That hit was legal.

And while I wouldn’t want to see any Seahawks get laid out quite like that, I really don’t want to see one of Seattle’s best athletes get hit like that.

Thomas is simply too important to the Seahawks whole game plan to risk losing him every time the opposition has to punt the ball away.

Carroll already noted that Percy Harvin, Richard Sherman and Bryan Walters are also being considered to handle the return duties.

What do you think 12s? Who is the best option to replace Golden Tate as the Seahawks punt returner?

Who should return punts for the Seahawks in 2014?

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