Aug 22, 2014; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Seahawks free safety Earl Thomas (29) celebrates after a 59-yard punt return against the Chicago Bears during the second quarter at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Earl Thomas' Punt Return vs Bears Should Silence All Critics

The Seattle Seahawks simply manhandled the Chicago Bears last night and among the standouts in the romp was one Earl Thomas.

Normally we know that Thomas comes to the party to make plays as a downhill and very physical safety, which was something that he showed no shortage of on Friday night. When he wasn’t doing that, he was doing what he typically does, being one of, if not the, best center-fielder in the NFL.

That wasn’t all Thomas was able to provide though. With about 3:00 to go in the second quarter and up 21-0, he took a punt from his own 25 yard line and provided his best Devin Hester impression, setting up two outstanding blocks in the middle and whooshing outside in a burst to ignite the Seattle crowd once again. The only problem was that he was eventually run down by the punter, which he’ll probably catch some flack for in the film room.

That shouldn’t worry Seahawks’ fans though. The question I had about Thomas returning punts was “why put maybe the best defender on your team in danger?” On that one play, he answered it; because the man’s a competitor and a pure football player with the elite skills and desire to make a play for his team in any capacity. He is in fact as talented an athlete as there is in the game of football and he’s one that just so happens to play safety.

Beyond that, he’s not just willing to get out there and face the challenge, he embraces it. He wants to prove he’s the best safety in the game, which means doing things that other safeties cannot or will not do. So why not let him by giving him the keys to the punt return game? It’s the very same reason you put the injury-prone Percy Harvin back to field the kickoffs, is it not? They can make plays that others can’t, simple as that. Then of course you just have to trust they are smart enough and elusive enough to not take unnecessary hits because yeah, they mean that much to their team.

There aren’t many elite safeties who are willing to risk injury in the punt return game for the betterment of the team and even fewer who can actually do it. The Charles Woodson‘s and Deion Sanders‘ of the world are a rare breed. Earl Thomas is that type of player and because of it Seahawks’ fans will have six to seven more opportunities to watch the Legion of Boom make a play each game. Fortunately, all of them will be with the ball already in hand.

Earl Thomas 59 yard punt return vs Chicago preseason week 3

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