Seattle thrives off the intimidating play of its “Legion of Boom” secondary.
But three of the members, cornerback Richard Sherman, free safety Earl Thomas and strong safety Kam Chancellor, are not 100 percent healthy to face New England in Super Bowl XLIX, which is set for 6:30 p.m. Sunday at University of Phoenix Stadium.
While Green Bay elected not to test the clearly ailing Sherman in the NFC Championship game, Sherman expects plenty of business from New England quarterback Tom Brady. He wouldn’t come out of the game against the Packers and played the closing minutes with his arm pinned to his chest as if it were in a sling.
He’s answering the bell for the season’s biggest game.
“It’s getting better,” Sherman said. “I had a good week of practice, so it should be good.”
There is a concern that Sherman will not be able to reach over his head and can expect a lot of high passes his way.
“I’ve been able to move it a lot better than I did earlier,” Sherman said.
Thomas is a fleet runner who covers a lot of ground. Normally, he also lays the big boom on a receiver. But if he plays with a shoulder harness again, he may not be able to hit with the same authority.
“Since I was a kid, every time I got hurt I always came back in the game,” Thomas said. “I remember I played third base on my all-star baseball team, and there was a weird ground ball that hit me in the mouth. I had braces at the time. My lip got stuck to the braces, and I had to go to the emergency room. My dad said, ‘Do you want to go back and play?’ I was like, ‘Of course.’ This is me. I love competing. I am just glad we are reliving our dreams. It feels like a movie.”
While Thomas plans to tough it out like Sherman, his ability to use his arms is a concern.
“When I come alive nothing is limited,” Thomas said. “I can still play fearless and throw my body around and whatever happens, happens.”
The Seahawks believe that Thomas’ shoulder will hold up.
“We all battle with injuries out there,” said Chancellor, who suffered a knee injury near the end of Friday’s practice. “We’re playing with injuries. Nobody is 100 percent out there.”
While Sherman and Thomas are battling injuries, the biggest hitter in the secondary, Kam Chancellor is just fine.
“You can’t reproduce what Kam brings to this team,” Thomas said.
Chancellor came up with the “Legion of Boom” nickname.
“It was during a radio interview a while ago,” Chancellor said. “It was a radio interview, and the fans wanted to come up with a name for the group, and we saw a bunch of names come across Twitter. None of them were catchy, but when we saw Legion of Boom, it jumped out.”
After spreading and going viral on Twitter, the nickname stuck.
“Legion is like a vast army,” Chancellor said. “We just went with Legion of Boom, and it kind of fits the description of our unit, our brotherhood of love, trust, honesty, respect. I think all those elements right there create the power in our group.”
The fourth member of the group is cornerback Byron Maxwell, a former Clemson standout.
“Maxwell has been phenomenal for the past two years that he’s been allowed to play,” Sherman said.
“He stepped in, and we had a seamless transition. He made big play after big play, whether it was an interception or tipped balls, or the play in the Super Bowl where he had a big-time punch out (fumble) on (Broncos receiver) Demaryius (Thomas).”
Maxwell, a former sixth-round pick, helped stabilize the spot opposite Sherman.
“Every year he just finds a new way to develop his game and take it to a new level,” Sherman said. “He’s a tremendous asset to the defense.”
If Sherman or Thomas can’t finish the game, the Seahawks believe the reserves are ready to play. Jeremy Lane, Tharold Simon and Marcus Burley are the backup cornerbacks. DeShawn Snead and Steven Terrell are listed behind Thomas on Seattle’s depth chart.
“I always say that you are as strong as your weakest link,” Chancellor said. “There’s no weak links. I feel like if the whole unit is on the same page, the whole unit will do the same thing, the whole unit is going after the same goal. We’re a strong and very powerful unit.”
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