'It matters, obviously:' Earl Thomas' absence felt at Seahawks minicamp

RENTON, Wash. – Yes, Pete Carroll wishes Earl Thomas was on the field.

No, he doesn’t have any idea when or even if Thomas will return.

The Seattle Seahawks began their three-day minicamp Tuesday at the Virginia Mason Athletic Center, with their star free safety missing as advertised.

“I had heard that he was making that choice,” Carroll said during media availability Tuesday afternoon. “I wish he was here, that would be nice. But we’re focusing on the guys that are here.”

Thomas announced on Twitter over the weekend that he was holding out for a new contract as he enters the final year of his current deal. Carroll said he last spoke to Thomas a couple weeks ago, but said he doesn’t expect the holdout will have a lingering effect should Thomas come back.

“Earl doesn’t know any other way,” Carroll said. “He gives you everything when he’s with you.”

In the meantime, Thomas’ absence will mean more opportunities for those “guys that are here” that Carroll mentioned.

In particular, Bradley McDougald was already expected to play a larger role this year with the presumed absence of strong safety Kam Chancellor (“We have not heard anything official yet on that,” Carroll said of Chancellor), and the Seahawks drafted Tedric Thompson and Delano Hill last year with an eye to life beyond their two star safeties.

“Bradley is really taking the lead, just as he did last year when he played - he just picked right up and came in,” Carroll said. “He’s started a lot of football games in the league. He’s got a lot of background and it shows. He’s very confident and he helps people and he’s a good communicator, just like our guys need to. He’s just embraced that from the first day. So that’s not a problem at all.

“And then we’re moving guys around. Tedric Thompson looks really good on the back end. Delano Hill is another guy that we’re really excited about too. When we picked them a couple years ago, we thought that someday they were gonna be the players out here. So, they’re making their pitch.”

Quarterback Russell Wilson said he didn’t want to talk about Thomas’ contract – “those are business deals and each person’s different,” he said – but acknowledged “It matters” that Thomas isn’t in camp.

“Earl’s our brother,” Wilson said. “He’s one of the best players to ever step on a football field. You have to credit him for all the things he’s done for our organization and as a teammate and as a player and as a friend. I’m super close with Earl. Obviously we wish he was here.

“He’s one of the best players in the world, and it’s always great if he’s on the field, just cause he’s a great player.”

Mandatory minicamp runs through Thursday, and the Seahawks are expected to announce their training camp dates soon.

Does Carroll expect to see Thomas?

“Well see,” he said. “We’ll see what happens. I don’t know.”