Earl ThomasSeattle Seahawks free safety Earl Thomas could have another position next to his name on the roster by the time Week 1 rolls around this season.

Thomas, who has been one of the team’s top defenders, might also become a permanent member of the special teams unit. Seattle has had difficulty finding a punt returner for 2014, and Thomas stepped up in a big way during the Seahawks’ third preseason game against the Chicago Bears to prove he can fill the role.

The fifth-year safety took a punt back 59 yards — and nearly to the house for a touchdown — but was dragged down by Bears punter Pat O’Donnell.

“It felt like normal,” Thomas said, via the Seattle Times. “It felt like anytime I get the ball I can make something happen. People are just so blind to the fact and stuck in their ways, but I love it because I’ve got a chance to shut everybody up.”

Seattle might not want to risk injuring one of its best players in a special teams situation, but right now, Thomas is listed as the No. 1 punt returner on the unofficial depth chart ahead of cornerback Richard Sherman. Coach Pete Carroll said he liked what he saw from Thomas on the return.

“For Earl to get some space finally and get a shot at it, he looked really good, Carroll said. “He said it felt like Pop Warner.”

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