It's been a while since Seattle Seahawks safety Earl Thomas felt this good.
Thomas and fellow ''Legion of Boom'' members Richard Sherman and Jeremy Lane are healthy heading into their opener against Miami on Sunday. Unlike last year, they didn't have to spend much of their summer rehabbing from injuries.
Also last year, Kam Chancellor was in the midst of a holdout that didn't end until he'd missed the first two games.
''You know, having Kam back healthy in mind and body, it's very important to our defense,'' Thomas told The Associated Press while discussing his new investment partnership with Chef's Cut Real Jerky. ''We need to be strong where we are strong and having Kam back with a clear conscience, it helps us out a lot.''
Thomas said Seattle's secondary and the Seahawks' defense as a whole is miles ahead of where it was a year ago at this time.
''Of course, when you look at the whole picture, Kam wasn't there to run it all. A lot of guys were fighting battles with issues that needed to be cleared up,'' Thomas said. ''So, now you just see people have their fire back and that's just fun to be around.''
After back-to-back Super Bowl trips, the Seahawks were beaten by Carolina in the playoffs last year.
It's also enjoyable to be a Longhorn again, Thomas said.
Texas, Thomas' alma mater, is ranked for the first time under coach Charlie Strong , coming in at No. 11 in the latest AP Top 25 after a rousing opening victory against Notre Dame.
The last time the Longhorns were ranked was November 2013, Mack Brown's last season as coach.
''I think college football fans around the world respect what we do in Texas,'' Thomas said. ''They might not have been for the past couple of years. But everybody in the world knows what we're capable of and when we pull out a win like that, it gives everybody that same taste of what great Longhorns do. We produce greatness.
''It's a great time to be a Longhorn, man.''
And a member of the Seahawks, who have posted double-digit wins in each of the last four seasons under coach Pete Carrol. Seattle has had the NFL's best scoring defense in each of those four seasons, the first team with such a run since the Cleveland Browns in the mid-1950s. Unlike previous endorsements, Thomas' latest business venture is an equity partnership in Chef's Cut, which he's making available on his website www.earlthomas.com . Another partner is Super Bowl MVP Von Miller of the Broncos.
''We actually have the same agency and we're both good friends so we talked about it,'' Thomas said. ''It's a great way to introduce it to my fans.''
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