This is my assumption, yet I have a hard time believing otherwise. Walter Thurmond wouldn’t want to admit it, but his career through three full seasons and now into his fourth, has largely been a case of fortune.
After being drafted in the fourth round by Seattle in 2010, the athletic cornerback had the misfortune of being unable to recover from a serious leg injury to compete for a starting position that suits his talent. Then in following season, finally healthy, he had the fortune to be the backup to Marcus Trufant who suffered his own injury in the opening game and subsequently replaced him in the starting lineup.
In the five starts that followed that season, he was good. In week 6, though, he had the misfortune to be injured when teammate Earl Thomas crashed into him while both attempted to make an interception. The collision resulted in a broken leg that ended Thurmond’s season. Seattle threw rookie Richard Sherman, a fifth round pick out of Stanford, into the spot and I think we all know how that has turned out.
Still out with the broken leg, and stuck behind a now solid starting cornerback tandem in Sherman and Brandon Browner, Thurmond was out during the 2012 season until week 14 against Arizona. However, in that game Thurmond re-injured the hamstring that bothered him in 2010 and its hampering of his speed, led head coach Pete Carroll to leave Thurmond inactive for the final five contests of the year, including the playoffs.
So despite his enormous talent, through the first three seasons of his career, Thurmond had little in the way of statistics — or even game tape — to show for it.
Finally, in 2013, Thurmond has had the fortune to see his body heal fully. He has consequently showed off his abilities, earned a roster spot on a deep and talented Seahawks roster, and had the fortune to get two straight starts to open the year due to a hamstring injury to Browner, projected as the starter opposite Sherman once again entering ’13.
And it’s these two starts that have allowed Thurmond to put his true talent on display. With Thurmond on one side and Sherman on the other, the Seahawks secondary has yielded just 125 passing yards to Carolina week 1 and then 107 week 2 against the rival San Francisco 49ers. That is the lowest total for any two game stretch the Seahawks have seen under Pete Carroll. The dominance of Thurmond and Sherman on the edges has been readily apparent to all who have witnessed the stellar performance of this Seattle defense through the first two weeks.
One play in particular was critical week 2 against the Niners. After a blocked punt put the Niners inside Seattle territory, San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick had an opportunity to obtain a touchdown for his offense but could only watch as Thurmond, in zone coverage, moved in on the previously open receiver, deflected the pass into the air, allowing his teammate Thomas to secure the interception.
Instead of falling behind 7-0 early on, the Seahawks were able to force a turnover, keep the game knotted at 0-0 and keep the energy in the stadium.
Thurmond has been brilliant and a major reason why the Seattle defense is yielding a league low 113 yards passing per game.