A knick here, a bruise there, broken bone, pulled hammy, you name it, they've seen it. It seems like every year for the past couple years, we have been waiting for Byron Maxwell and Walter Thurmond III to fulfill their potential, only to have their season hampered by a long string of injuries. They are finally both healthy heading into this preseason, and the San Diego game showed what healthy versions of the two are capable of.
Walter Thurmond #28
Thurmond has arguably been the more frustrating of the two. He was all PAC-10/12 honorable mention on more than one occasion, and was brimming with talent before suffering a devastating knee injury his senior year. Because of this, he lasted til the 4th round of the 2010, and has been fighting injuries ever since.
Throughout the San Diego game, Thurmond looked like a guy that hadn't seen live action since last fall. He showed good overall technique, but seemed timid in coverage at points. He got beat on a go route and a crossing route because he didn't step up and get his hands on the receiver, instead letting them go free. Lucky for him, neither resulted in completions. He showed some promise in the slot, but guessed wrong on a couple rub and option routes. When Walt did give up completions, like on a quick out late in the 2nd quarter, he closed quickly and made the tackle. He was a plus in run support as well, stoning a running back on a power left for little gain.
Despite showing certain amounts of uncertainty in his first game in ages, Thurmond showed many promising attributes. He brings something to the table that the starters in Browner and Sherman don't, elite speed and quickness. He can make up any gap a receiver creates in a mere few steps, which is invaluable for a corner. Thurm kept everything in front of him as well, only getting beat by Keenan Allen once out of the slot in the 2nd quarter. The next two games will be key for Thurmond, as he should continue to acclimate to full game speed.
Byron Maxwell #41
Maxwell wasn't quite as heralded coming out of Clemson a year after Thurmond, but his career has been just as injury riddled. A lower round pick like Thurmond, Maxwell has never quite been right health wise since being in the NFL, and can benefit from a strong showing throughout training camp and the preseason.
Maxwell did plenty to help his standing after his performance against San Diego. He hasn't gotten as much hype this training camp as Thurmond, but seemed the more comfortable one out there on Thursday night. He took more gambles on balls, with one of them turning into an interception of a Clipboard Jesus deep out. He got to the ball and receiver at the perfect time, showing that he was not going to let his injury plagued past affect his playing style.
Maxwell worked exclusively on the outside against San Diego receivers, as he does not have the elite speed and quickness that Thurmond possesses to play inside. He has smooth enough hips, but sometimes gets too high when coming up to jam at the line. His aggressive mentality bit him on at least one occasion, as he held a receiver while jockeying for position and was flagged. He still made a great play on the ball, but wouldn't have been in that position had he not held.
Moving Forward to Preseason Week #2
Thurmond and Maxwell have followed very similar career paths thus far, and are in very similar positions heading into the next preseason game versus Denver. With Peyton Manning at the helm of a very potent offense that features Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker, and the newly acquired Wes Welker, the secondary should be tested in all facets. Thurmond may get a shot with the 1's at nickel corner, and he will need to show he is becoming more comfortable in the slot against Wes Welker, one of the games best slot receivers. Maxwell will need to show he can build off of last weeks success and be consistent. Ultimately, both Byron Maxwell and Walter Thurmond should make the final 53. Barring anymore injuries, they will demand more playing time in a secondary already rich with talent.