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Seahawks safety Earl Thomas returns to practice field

RENTON, Wash. -- Seattle Seahawks free safety Earl Thomas was back on the practice field Tuesday, having ditched his baseball cap and sneakers for a helmet, shoulder pads and red jersey as he took a significant step in his return from offseason shoulder surgery.

It was a light day of practice for Thomas, but it was still by far the most he's done to this point in training camp.

"I'm just happy that I got a chance to go out there today," he said. "My teammates were happy that I was out there. It just felt good to run around."

It's still uncertain whether Thomas will be available for the Seahawks' regular-season opener Sept. 13 at St. Louis. He twice said on Tuesday he isn't sure if he will be, though he expressed some confidence when asked whether there's anything he needs to see in order to be convinced he'll be ready.

"To me, I think I've seen all I need to see today. I was flying around," Thomas said. "But we'll see."

Seattle's secondary in general and its safety spots in particular have been thin during training camp with Kam Chancellor holding out and Thomas working his way back from surgery in February to repair a torn labrum. Thomas began training camp on the physically unable to perform list and remained a spectator for the most part even after he was activated two weeks ago. His only participation in practice was in the walk-through portion, as he still wasn't ready to run at full speed.

Until Tuesday.

"I'm just happy that they've taken the handcuffs off me and let me kinda do my job," he said.

Thomas hasn't missed a game since entering the league in 2010 despite playing his position with a reckless abandon. He had a difficult time coping with the first serious injury of his career.

"It's been very tough. A lot of negative thoughts in my mind," he said. "I was debating if I still loved it at one point. But being out here today, it reassured me that I love it. I just need to be out here. I just need to be involved."

Thomas is typically serious and intense even in casual interviews. He was that way Tuesday while discussing his injury and return to practice, though there was one lighter moment when he was asked whether it's tough having to wear a red jersey indicating he's not ready for contact.

"It's not tough," he said. "I look good in it. So I'm good."

In other Seahawks news from Tuesday's practice:

  • Richard Sherman and Tharold Simon participated in only a portion of practice, while fellow cornerbacks Will Blackmon and Mohammed Seisay did not practice at all. Sherman (hip flexor) and Blackmon (groin) didn't play in last Friday night's preseason opener, while Seisay injured his groin in that game. Simon is coming off shoulder surgery and was activated from the PUP list Monday.

  • There was no change from Monday in the top two tiers of the offensive-line depth chart. The first unit included Justin Britt at left guard, Drew Nowak at center and Garry Gilliam at right tackle. The second unit had Alvin Bailey at left tackle, Keavon Milton at left guard, Lemuel Jeanpierre at center, Mark Glowinski at right guard and Terry Poole at right tackle.

  • Quarterback Jake Waters took snaps with the the third-team offense, having signed with the Seahawks earlier in the day. Waters was wearing No. 14.