Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said Monday that anyone criticizing Earl Thomas for his middle finger toward Seattle's sideline as he was being carted off with a fractured lower leg should cut the safety "a little slack" and "understand" what must have been going on in his head at that moment.
Carroll made his comments in his weekly interview with KIRO-AM 710 ESPN Seattle, a day after he said he didn't see the gesture made by Thomas.
"People that are criticizing whatever happened don't understand. This was an earth-shattering moment for a kid. He's trying to play this game he loves and all of sudden this happens again. He knew exactly what happened to him so he went right to what it's going to take to get back," Carroll said.
He also said he did not talk to the team about Thomas' gesture: "I don't know exactly what the intention of that was. I didn't see it and I don't know what the intention was there, and I'm not jumping to conclusions on that. There's nothing for us to talk about at this point."
"He had it all just totally figured out and was as emotional as you can get. ... Give him a little slack. This is a very, very difficult moment that most people wouldn't understand what that was all about."
Carroll was sympathetic to what must have been going through Thomas' head at that moment. "You can have expectations for people to do exactly as you think they should do, but until you're there doing it and you understand it, you've got to give the guy some room. That's exactly how I feel about it and I know that probably some of our other players know that, and people who have been in the situation understand. I get it when people want to pass judgement and cast aspersions and all that about something, but in the heat of the moment, with all of the emotional part of this and the injury and the pain and the discomfort, all of that -- shoot, give the guy a break."
Carroll said later Monday that Thomas suffered a fracture in his left tibia, the same bone he broke in December 2016.
"He fractured the tibia in almost the same area where he did it before," Carroll said. "He was trying to jump over the receiver on the ground and he just kinda kicked him and he hit right in the same spot. He knew exactly what happened. He felt just the same and all that."
Carroll confirmed that Thomas' injury is season-ending and that Thomas hasn't decided on whether to have surgery. Thomas, 29, did not have surgery in 2016.
Thomas was not available to the media after the game.
Thomas' future with the team was in question all offseason and has continued to be since he returned on the Wednesday before Seattle's opener. ESPN's Adam Schefter reported Sunday that the Seahawks had still been open to trading Thomas, but that they had refused to budge on their asking price of a 2019 second-round pick.
Thomas has voiced his displeasure over his contract, which is in its final year and includes an $8.5 million salary. Thomas said upon his return that he determined that he had too much money to lose -- $500,000 in weekly game checks -- if he were to continue his holdout into the regular season.
"I think that's the crazy part of our business. If he doesn't come, then he's not a team player," linebacker Bobby Wagner said, referring to what perceptions would have been about Thomas had he continued to hold out. "If he does come and he gets hurt, then it's, 'He shouldn't have come.' So it's a position that we get put in often, and it's an unfortunate situation."
Wagner's comment drew a response from another star player who has been absent due to an ongoing contract dispute. Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell, who hasn't reported to the team this season, replied to a post on Instagram post that featured Wagner's quote by writing: "smh exactly...get right bro bro @earl! I'll continue to be the bad guy for ALL of us."
Carroll had said last week that the Seahawks and Thomas were in a "good place." He went into more detail Monday.
"I think we had made sense of the situation Earl was dealing with. He was clear about moving forward. He was having fun, he was loving playing. I just think that we communicated well, and he knew how much I cared about him and I know how much he cares about this game and all that he's up against," he said.
"It was kind of two guys understanding and compassionate for the other. We had made good progress and I'll never forget that. It was really important, and I thought Earl was a really great man about dealing with it all."
On the injury front, Carroll confirmed that rookie tight end Will Dissly is done for the season and will have surgery this week after tearing his right patellar tendon. Linebacker K.J. Wright could still be out a couple more weeks as he continues to recover from arthroscopic knee surgery he had in late August. The Seahawks have not yet received word on whether Mychal Kendricks, who has replaced Wright at weakside linebacker for the past three games, will again be eligible to play this week as he appeals his suspension for his connection to insider trading. Carroll said word on that should come by Tuesday.
Running back Chris Carson, left guard Ethan Pocic and defensive end Dion Jordan are expected to be available this week after they missed the Arizona game, but it will be hard for rookie defensive end Rasheem Green to make it back this week.
ESPN's Brady Henderson contributed to this report.