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Watching Sunday’s game between the Green Bay Packers and Seattle Seahawks, it didn’t take long to understand just how different a team Seattle was last season after Earl Thomas was lost to injury in early December.

Thomas was flying around like his former All-Pro self in the Seahawks’ 17-9 loss to the Packers. He led the team in tackles with 11, many of which involved Thomas flying from his safety position to drop ball carriers at, or behind, the line of scrimmage.

“He was really good yesterday,” head coach Pete Carroll said on Monday. “He was good tackling at the line of scrimmage, he made two or three open field shot tackles for no gains, he was there on the deep ball a couple of times, had a pick on the one play that was called back, he ranged well and had a great hit on the running back coming from the middle. He just played a terrific game.”

Seattle’s defense just wasn’t the same following Thomas’ season-ending broken leg last year. Steven Terrell replaced Thomas for the rest of the season and, unsurprisingly, wasn’t able to replicate the performances of one of the league’s best safeties. The Seahawks averaged just 16.4 points per game in the 11 games Thomas started last season. That number climbed to 22.4 points per game over the final five games of the regular season.

While Thomas already looked like he was back to his former self during his limited action in the preseason, Sunday’s game in Green Bay allowed him to display his ability again over a full 60 minutes of action.

“Woah, that was amazing!” defensive end Cliff Avril said of Thomas’ performance against the Packers. “I was yelling that out during the game, actually, like ‘I’m glad to see you back out here man.’ He is out there flying around, smacking people. It shows you how great of a player he is. It shows you the difference it was I guess in a sense. They say next man up a lot of times, but obviously somebody like that, it’s pretty hard to replace. But to have him back out there and making plays and his energy that he brings is amazing. It is fun. It is fun to be out there with him.”

Thomas is a vital part of Seattle’s defense. Having him back in the lineup has the unit looking as formidable as ever.

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