Seattle turns to Steven Terrell with Thomas out for season

RENTON, Wash. (AP) Steven Terrell is about to lose whatever anonymity he had.

Since arriving in Seattle before the 2014 season, Terrell has led a fairly quiet and inconspicuous life as a backup safety and key special teams contributor for the Seahawks. He has done his job well, but maybe not to the point where it's noticed when he is on the field.

That's about to change in a hurry, with Terrell stepping in as the starting free safety after former All-Pro Earl Thomas broke his lower left leg.

''He's got it,'' Seattle coach Pete Carroll said. ''He's looked really good when he's played, so hopefully he'll just continue to get better and more confident and flow with the guys better as we stay together out there.''

The expectation is Terrell will be out there for the final four games of the regular season and however far Seattle can advance in the postseason. Short of stepping in for Russell Wilson or maybe Richard Sherman, there may not be a more difficult player on Seattle's roster to replace than Thomas, who was injured in the first half of last Sunday's win over Carolina.

Thomas' combination of speed, skill and experience as the anchor in the back of Seattle's defensive scheme makes it tough for anyone to replicate.

''Just his natural ability. He's just one of those players that comes along once in however many years,'' Terrell said. ''He just has a knack, a natural knack and he just has it. He's really instinctual and has a great feel for everything.''

Part of the unknown with Terrell is simply having not gotten much of an opportunity. That's the price of playing behind Thomas, who until two weeks ago had played every game of his professional career.

Terrell signed with Seattle at the start of training camp in 2014 and found a home after spending his first season in the NFL bouncing around between Jacksonville and Houston.

Finding stability meant giving up the chance to be a regular contributor on defense. Terrell wasn't going to beat out Thomas for a starting role, so he made special teams his opportunity to shine. During the 2015 season, Terrell appeared in 12 games but recorded just one tackle.

While his playing time was limited, Terrell was continuing to learn from Thomas.

''He kind of teaches in his own way,'' Terrell said. ''For me, I learn more from him just asking questions, his mindset about things and how he sees certain situations and little things in our position like reading the quarterback, or what is the first thing you do when you watch film. Little things like that, that's what I've gotten the biggest advantage from Earl.''

Terrell has gotten more playing time in the past three games at safety than maybe his entire career combined. Terrell stepped in when Thomas suffered a hamstring strain midway through Seattle's win over Philadelphia in Week 12 and played the entire game the following week against Tampa Bay. And he jumped right back into action when Thomas limped off the field last Sunday after injuring his leg.

Terrell knows he likely will be picked on, beginning with Aaron Rodgers and Green Bay this weekend.

''I would assume they would,'' he said. ''This defense, it's kind of hard to single one person out and try to attack them. We have so many weapons and the way our style of play is, but I assume they will come after me. I don't really know.''

NOTES: To add depth in the secondary, Seattle signed safety Jeron Johnson, who was with the team from 2011-14. Johnson spent the 2015 season with Washington and was in camp with Kansas City before finding himself out of the league. It was an easy decision with Johnson's familiarity with the system and that he lives full-time in the Seattle area. ... With FB Will Tukuafu in concussion protocol, the Seahawks also signed former Oakland fullback Marcel Reece. Reece, who played collegiately at Washington, was released by Oakland earlier this year after serving a four-game suspension for violating the league's policy on performance-enhancing drugs.

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