Seahawks' Thomas hopes to play in preseason games

For months we'd been told Earl Thomas was on a path to be back by Week 1. Now that optimism has shaved a bit.

While he's making progress in his rehab from February shoulder surgery on a torn labrum, the Seattle Seahawks' star safety will not be ready for the start of camp and the regular-season opener is uncertain.

"The hope for Thomas is to be active after starting the preseason on the PUP list," NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported on NFL Total Access on Thursday, "to be active for the third or fourth preseason game, get himself into game shape quickly and be ready for Week 1."

In February, Rapoport reported that Thomas was expected to be sidelined for six to eight months. This week's news means the safety will be closer to the back of that timeframe than the front.

Thomas plays a vital role in the Seahawks secondary. As the top safety in the NFL, his sideline-to-sideline ability allows the outside defenders to be more aggressive.

Having a healthy Thomas, who can use his shoulder to lower the boom, is more important for the stretch run into the playoffs than camp or even Week 1 versus the St. Louis Rams.

*The latest Around The NFL Podcast discusses the eight most intriguing training camp battles heading into the season. *

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