RENTON, Wash. (AP) — A look at the top five players right now in the Seattle Seahawks' secondary reveals a truth about why their defense has been so successful.
The Seahawks (12-2) have an uncanny knack for drafting players in the later rounds and being able to develop them into starters. And not just adequate players, but All-Pros in some cases.
"We've done a really nice job of picking up guys that fit. And then we've done a nice job of coaching," Seattle coach Pete Carroll said. "(Defensive back coaches) Kris Richard and Rocky (Seto), that take care of those guys, have done a great job of molding those guys into the kind of style that we like. It's a joint venture to get that done. But the guys have come through in great fashion."
The latest example of what Seattle has done in developing those late draft picks is the recent play of cornerbacks Byron Maxwell and Jeremy Lane. The two sixth-round selections waited for their opportunities and are now thriving on the field.
Maxwell took over as the starter at cornerback opposite Richard Sherman when Walter Thurmond was suspended four games for violating the league's substance abuse policy. Thurmond had been filling in for Brandon Browner, who suffered a groin injury in Week 10 at Atlanta and then was suspended Wednesday, ending his season. With both players out, Lane became Seattle's fifth defensive back used in passing situations.
Maxwell and Lane have played well enough that when Thurmond returns from his suspension next week, there is no guarantee that either spot is his. Pass-happy New Orleans was stymied by the Seahawks' defense and Maxwell had an interception, five tackles and three pass breakups a week later against San Francisco.
Then Maxwell stepped into the spotlight last Sunday against the Giants with two of the Seahawks' five interceptions.
"There are no weak links. That's something that we decide on in our room at the beginning before we start to play football," Richard said. "There is that saying 'You're only as strong as your weak link.' Well, how about no weak links? How strong are you then? There is no such thing as a weak link. You're just waiting your turn."