According to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, Earl Thomas “…had surgery right after the Super Bowl. At that time his recovery was 6-8 months… right around the middle of August.” The hope is that he (Thomas) will be active off of the PUP list the 3rd or 4th week of the preseason, giving him a quick turnaround to get into game shape for week 1 against the Rams on the road.
Although the injury is a concern for Thomas’ return week 1 and more importantly week 2 in Green Bay, it’s not enough for the Seahawks to drop him from the #1 Fantasy Defense. The Rams are not the offensive threat that the Packers are so if Thomas can’t go week one, it won’t be a problem. After week 2 and on, however, it becomes more problematic – facing the Packers, Bears, and Lions. Earl Thomas is widely considered the best safety in the league, so anyone who steps in to replace him will be a major down grade.
With that said, let’s look at who would likely take over “Area 29” if Thomas can’t play. Over the last two seasons, the Seahawks have lost high caliber backups in free agency over the last two seasons including Jeron Johnson, and Chris Maragos, who are both starters on their new teams. DeShawn Shead is the usual suspect when either Thomas or Chancellor are injured. He plays both safety positions and is a capable backup and has the versatility to play some cornerback in a pinch. However, he is not able to cover the entire field deeper than the 15 yard line like Thomas, and because of that Kam Chancellor may not be in the box as much as he usually is, which changes the landscape of the defense.
Thomas’ injury is definitely a concern and we’ll see how it plays out as we get closer to the season and closer to your fantasy drafts. Just remember that Thomas went seasons without missing so much as a series, he played the Super Bowl with a separated shoulder and a torn labrum, he plays through pain and lights out at that. So unless things go south hard and in a hurry, expect Thomas to only miss game 1 at most.