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Originally published June 5, 2013 at 9:07 PM | Page modified June 6, 2013 at 7:14 PM

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Finally healthy, Thurmond could surprise

Cornerback Walter Thurmond is something of a newcomer, having played just five games the past two seasons due to a variety of injuries

Seattle Times staff reporter

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RENTON — Seahawks safety Earl Thomas was asked Wednesday whether any new players had caught his eye.

Thomas answered with the name of a four-year veteran — cornerback Walter Thurmond.

But then Thurmond is something of a newcomer, having played just five games the past two seasons due to a variety of injuries — a broken leg suffered in 2011 and rebroken the next year and two pulled hamstrings.

Thurmond is healthy now, finally allowing the talent that so intrigued the Seahawks when they drafted him in the fourth round from Oregon in 2010 to finally shine.

“When he’s playing healthy, that’s something that we’ve got in our back pocket,’’ Thomas said after the final Organized Team Activities (OTA). “He’s a talented corner, (who’s like) a first-round pick. If he can stay healthy, we are going to be good.’’

The only question may be where he plays. Coach Pete Carroll said Thurmond can handle all three corner spots — the two outside positions and the slot or nickelback. With Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner seemingly set outside, Thurmond most likely will compete with free-agent signee Antoine Winfield for nickelback.

“That is a great position for us,’’ Carroll said. “We love to have that kind of depth there. We have a lot of high hopes and high expectations and also in the punt-return game, too. He wants to be part of that thing, too, and will be battling with Golden (Tate) in the preseason.’’

Thurmond said signing Winfield motivated him.

“I’m going out there and just worrying about my game and competing for a starting job,” Thurmond said.

Simply being out there is his biggest victory.

Thurmond tied for the Pac-10 lead in interceptions as a junior at Oregon, but fell to the fourth round after suffering a major knee injury as a senior in 2009.

He made it back to play in 13 games for the Seahawks in 2010 but fractured his left fibula midway through the 2011 season, and reinjured it, causing him to miss the first nine games of 2012.

Thurmond said “trying to rush back’’ before he was totally healthy contributed to two hamstring injuries.

Carroll said all the ailments had the Seahawks wondering if they’d ever really know what they had in Thurmond.

“But now he is right, he is over that hump, and he has really prepared himself to have a great camp,” Carroll said. “He’s really able to go for it now. He’s got extraordinary quickness. He’s a playmaker, and he’s fighting to play a bunch.’’

Thurmond, who turns 26 on Aug. 12, said the injuries made him appreciate days like Wednesday, when he was able to play without pain.

“I don’t take for granted what has happened to me,’’ he said. “And those things have made me better as a person and a player, on and off the field.

“I feel personally that I am an elite player. I just fell short of circumstances with playing this brutal game we call football, and that is a consequence of playing. Both of my injuries were pretty serious — it wasn’t like it was some soft tissue just lingering. Those injuries made me strong. But that’s in the past, and now we are here today.’’

Notes

• Running back Marshawn Lynch, who was not present Monday and also missed at least one other earlier nonmandatory OTA, was back Wednesday. Carroll said Lynch is “in great shape’’ and doesn’t need to do a lot of work now. “There is so much wear on the tire,” the coach said. “We are not at that point where we should be pushing that as long as he is in great condition, which he is.’’

• Right tackle Breno Giacomini has been absent all week while doctors in New York look at his knee. Carroll said Giacomini won’t need surgery and “could have practiced this week, but we wanted to make sure we took the time to do the right thing, so he’s in good shape and that’s a positive report for us.’’

• Absent throughout OTAs has been DE Chris Clemons, rehabilitating the knee injury suffered in the playoff win against Washington. Carroll said Clemons is progressing well and could be ready for the start of the season.

• Also out has been guard James Carpenter, who recently had arthroscopic surgery to clean up his troublesome knee. Carroll said he could be back for the start of training camp next month.

Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or bcondotta@seattletimes.com

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