RENTON, Wash. – Is the 2017 version on Byron Maxwell the same player who started in the Super Bowl for the Seattle Seahawks almost three years ago?
The Seahawks practically hit the lottery in the two veteran players added to the team in recent weeks with defensive end Dwight Freeney and left tackle Duane Brown.
Can they go 3 for 3? Maxwell comes home again to help replace Richard Sherman, who suffered a torn Achilles tendon last week and is done for the year.
No one expects Maxwell to be Sherman, the game’s best cornerback. But signing Maxwell is a good decision because the Legion of Boom is a banged up lot.
For the first time in six years, the Seahawks may have to play a game with both Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor off the field. Chancellor suffered a neck stinger near the end of the Arizona game and still is undergoing tests.
“It’ll definitely be weird,’’ Seattle middle linebacker Bobby Wagner said on the thought of Sherman and Chancellor being out. “I’ve never played a game without Richard out there. He’s definitely going to be missed. To have both of those guys out is something we’ve never had to deal with, but we’ll prepare for it and hold it down until at least one of them gets back.”
The good news is free safety Earl Thomas will return after missing the last two games with a hamstring injury. Bradley McDougald, who started while Thomas was out, will start at strong safety if Chancellor doesn’t play.
McDougald has played well, but the cornerback situation without Sherman is more tenuous. Fans shouldn’t expect Maxwell to be the player they remember when he had four interceptions in 2013 and was the starter in 2014.
“I know the system and I know the coaches,’’ Maxwell said. “I love the guys in this locker room.”
You have to wonder about Maxwell’s effectiveness when the Miami Dolphins released him after two games this season and were willing to eat the remainder of his $8.5 million salary.
Maxwell signed a six-year, $63-million deal with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2015, but they traded him to Miami after one season. So who exactly is the Maxwell the Seahawks signed?
“I’m just savvier,’’ he said. “I’ve seen more football. I like to think I’m still in my prime.”
Pro Football Focus (@PFF_Seattle) had a Twitter post Thursday showing its grades for Maxwell in his seven-year career. PFF listed his 2016 season at Miami at 84.7, second-best to his 85.5 grade at Seattle in 2013.
But Maxwell had a 44.4 grade in Philadelphia and a 39.2 grade this season in Miami before the Dolphins let him go.
“That’s in the past now,’’ Maxwell said. “I want to focus on the Seattle Seahawks.”
Miami Herald columnist Armando Salguero, who covers the Dolphins, had some answers in an interview on Seattle’s KJR radio (950-AM) Tuesday.
Salguero says Maxwell lost confidence in press coverage, even to the point of “going rogue” at times on press-coverage calls by the coaches. Maxwell would pull back to keep from getting beat by a receiver.
Carroll indicated the coaches wanted Maxwell to play off the receivers, so there’s some confusion on who did what and why.
Salguero still is a Maxwell supporter: “I like Byron,’’ Salguero said. “Yeah, he gave up some passes, but something can always happen when he’s out there.”
Maxwell has 10 interceptions, 10 forced fumbles and five fumbles recovered in his career. The hope is Maxwell still can be a disruptive force.
“We’re going to kick him back into our style of play,’’ Carroll said of Maxwell. “We’re hoping we can recapture him technique-wise.”
The Seattle secondary prides itself on physical press coverage with its corners. Maxwell’s familiarity with the Seahawks defensive schemes and his strong relationship with defensive coordinator Kris Richard should help him. Richard was the secondary coach for the Seahawks during Maxwell’s first stint in Seattle.
Carroll said Jeremy Lane and rookie Shaquill Griffin will start Monday night against the Atlanta Falcons. Maxwell also will play and likely is the first option if either starter falters.
Lane’s story this season is as odd as it gets. He has gone from losing his starting job to Griffin, being traded to Houston in the deal for Brown, coming back to Seattle days later after failing his physical with the Texans, and now starting again in place of Sherman.
No matter who plays, the Seahawks are a weaker defense without Sherman, and weaker still if Chancellor is out. The injuries come as the team has to face one of the best receivers in the NFL in Julio Jones and a Pro Bowl quarterback in Matt Ryan.
Whatever Maxwell has to give, it’s likely more than the Seahawks would have without him. Signing veterans at midseason has been an unquestioned success for the Seahawks so far this season.
Maxwell wants to keep it going. Does he have something to prove?
“You always have to prove yourself in this league,’’ Maxwell said.
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