‘Matter of Time’ Before Marquise Blair Finds Way into Seahawks Lineup

Corbin Smith

Gearing up for Sunday’s Week 2 clash against the Steelers, the Seahawks could be without starting free safety Tedric Thompson, who is listed as doubtful to play with a hamstring injury.

While Seattle awaits to see how Thompson responds before making a decision on his status, the team will likely have a different starting duo of safeties on the field at kickoff. When discussing options for replacing him, coach Pete Carroll didn’t rule out rookie Marquise Blair seeing his first regular season action defensively.

“He could, yes...” Carroll said on Friday. “We’re in good shape and we like playing with the experience when you can and so guys that have been around this are a little bit ahead of him. It’s not that he can’t play. He can definitely ball for us and so it’s just a matter of time.”

It's been a rocky start for the second-round pick out of Utah, as he’s been playing catch up ever since missing time during organized team activities and mandatory mini camp with a hamstring injury.

Blair opened training camp on the PUP list and eventually exited Seattle’s second preseason game with back spasms. He attempted to return for the preseason finale against the Raiders to receive some invaluable game reps, but his back issue flared up and he wasn’t able to make it past the opening drive of the game before being ruled out.

With a limited number of practices under his belt, it’s been a challenge for Blair mastering Seattle’s scheme at both safety spots and though he flashed promise in limited preseason action, he also committed a couple of mental mistakes that led to big plays for the opponent by being out of position.

Back in mid-August, Carroll talked about the young safety earning his trust, saying, “He’s just got to learn what we’re doing, figure it out, and make sure that he’s really tight with all of his assignments and responsibilities.”

Now that his back spasms are in the rear-view mirror and he hasn’t been limited at practice over the past two weeks, Blair appears to be making strides in the trust department. Carroll still doesn’t intend to rush him onto the field, but he’s seeing progress that could expedite his path to meaningful defensive snaps and eventual spot in the starting lineup.

“Our confidence in him is growing because he’s back out here and we know that he’s well and all that. He’s been a big factor on special teams because he’s a really good ball player. It’s just a matter of time before he works his way in.”

If Thompson can’t go on Sunday at Heinz Field as expected, third-year defender Lano Hill will likely receive the start alongside veteran Bradley McDougald. Carroll has been eager to play Hill now that he’s 100 percent recovered from a cracked hip and he’ll have the first shot at impressing the coaching staff.

But the Seahawks also need to see what they have in Blair sooner rather than later. Given Thompson’s struggles last week, don’t be surprised to see the hard-hitting rookie rotate into the lineup as a third safety, creating the moment of opportunity he’s anxiously been waiting for to prove himself and carve out a larger role moving forward.