Everyone is talking about Earl Thomas

RENTON, Wash. -- Seattle Seahawks free safety Earl Thomas was a little under the weather Friday and didn’t practice. It might be the only thing that hasn’t gone right for him all season.

It seems almost everyone involved with the Seahawks these days wants to talk about what a remarkable season the two-time Pro Bowler is having.

Players, coaches and reporters all have noticed that Thomas is playing the best football of his career and is a worthy candidate for the league's defensive player of the year.

Thomas leads the team with 57 tackles, but the surprising part of that stat is 52 of them are solo tackles. Tackling better in the open field has been one of the biggest areas of improvement for Thomas this season. He also has four interceptions and two forced fumbles.

Thomas is in his fourth season, but he’s only 24 years old, electing to enter the NFL draft after his sophomore season at the University of Texas.

Here’s a sampling of what a few people are saying about Thomas:

Defensive coordinator Dan Quinn: "I think he’s really on it in terms of the exact technique of what we want, the mindset from practice to the game. You guys are out here for practice, but I don’t know if you can sense the intensity he brings to practice. When he gets on the grass, he’s all business. It really carries over into the game with the way he prepares and the way he plays.

"The speed has always been there, No. 1. The intensity, the desire and the will have always been there with him. Now, the added factor of experience and the recognition of things -- that’s the biggest difference. He’s off to an outstanding start and is someone we kind of targeted in terms of the offseason and the way he wanted to go about it. It’s lining up for him exactly like he’d like."

Cornerback Richard Sherman: "He’s the kind of player that makes unbelievable plays look routine. He’s one of the most locked-in football players I have ever seen. You can see his dedication and his focus to the game every single day. He’s having a career year. He’s focused on making open-field tackles and catching the picks. He was disappointed in certain facets of his game last year, and he works harder than anyone to fix them. And that’s why he’s having the kind of year he’s having.

"He treats practice like a game more than anybody I’ve ever seen. That’s why when you see him [make a big play] during the game, you’re like, ‘Oh, I saw him do it in practice 50 times.’ So of course he’s going to do it in the game, because that’s the kind of player he is."

Quarterback Russell Wilson: "Earl is just flying around out there. That hit that he took on Kellen Clemens [Monday night], I mean, god, I would’ve broken a rib. He’s so intense all the time."

Clemens, talking to Sherman after the big hit: "Man, that guy Earl Thomas. Man, oh my goodness. Where did y’all find him?" Sherman to Clemens: "I was like, 'Yeah, yeah, yeah. You got the first down. We’re not friends right now.' But it was pretty hilarious."

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll: "Earl played a really complete football game [at St. Louis, 10 tackles]. He had a lot of opportunities to make those real explosive plays that he kind of specializes in with his quickness and his mentality of going after stuff. He might have had six or seven highlight plays in the game of just firing up and making big-time tackles. It’s really cool to see."