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Earl Thomas checks in as Seahawks get back to work

By Brady Henderson

Smiles abounded as the Seahawks kicked off their offseason program Monday with near-perfect attendance.

That was the word from free safety Earl Thomas, who joined "Brock and Danny" following a meeting at the team's Renton headquarters.

"This is the only day of the year that you're going to see everybody on the team happy and definitely happy to see each other because training camp is a long process and after a few days of just practicing against each other when we do get to that situation, a lot of guys are going to be tired and ready to hit something new," Thomas said.

"But today it was good to see all my teammates. Everybody is enjoying each other and everybody seems like they're happy to be back."

Monday marked the beginning of the first of three phases of the Seahawks' offseason program. Attendance is voluntary, and according to Thomas, "only a couple" players weren't there.

"Even the new pieces that we have, everybody's bought in already," he said. "Coach [Pete] Carroll is doing a great job of teaching us the central theme is competition. Everybody's buying in, and when you get that, the team is going to go far."

A few more notes from Thomas' conversation with Brock Huard and Danny O'Neil:

AP315936590810
Seattle's Earl Thomas wants to improve his tackling as he looks to become the league's best safety. (AP)
Taking the next step. Thomas has been voted a Pro Bowl starter twice in three seasons and was a first-team All-Pro selection last year. As good as he's been, he knows he'll need to polish his game to reach his stated goal of becoming the league's best safety.

"I definitely want to be a better tackler and then just keep attacking that football when it's in the air and catch it when I get my opportunities," he said.

Thomas has at times struggled as a tackler. One memorable example was his failure to wrap up during a collision with Jazquizz Rodgers during Seattle's playoff loss to Atlanta last season. That missed tackle led to a long run.

Thomas made three interceptions during the regular seasons and two more in the playoffs, but he could have had more had he not dropped several would-be picks.

Winfield's addition. The Seahawks' secondary is widely considered the best in the NFL. It's also one of the youngest. That's easy to forget with all the accolades on the group's collective resume, including four Pro Bowls and two first-team All-Pro selections. Thomas is only 23. Kam Chancellor and Richard Sherman are 25. Brandon Browner is 28 but has only two years of NFL experience.

That might have made Antoine Winfield even more appealing. Winfield, who reportedly has agreed to a one-year deal with Seattle, will be 36 next season and projects as a replacement for Marcus Trufant, another veteran cornerback who is not under contract for next season. It's not as though their relative inexperience has been a hindrance, but there's plenty to be learned from a 14-year veteran, especially one as accomplished as Winfield.

"I'm excited. He's going to help us not only as far as his play but the mental side of the game," Thomas said. "A lot of people don't realize how much hours we put into just studying film and just trying to see what the offense is trying to do to us, and with him being in our corner and in a film room with him, we're all gonna pick his brain.

"He's been here a long time and he's had a lot of success in the league, and I'm excited to see how he attacks the game and I'm definitely going to be watching."

Paying tribute. Thomas is adding "III" to his name on the back of his jersey in tribute to his late grandfather. He'll continue to wear No. 29.

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