Of the numerous welcome-to-Seattle stories that have pickled this turbulent Seahawks season, CB Jeremy Lane has the clubhouse lead in weirdness. Already here, he was abruptly shunned by management, which traded him Oct. 30 to Houston, where he failed his physical exam.
Returning to Seattle as damaged goods physically and emotionally, Lane is now the most important man on the Clink field in the largest moment of the season — a Monday night game against the defending NFC champion Atlanta Falcons, and Seattle’s first in 6½ seasons without CB Richard Sherman.
Starting in Sherman’s spot is J-Lane, a sixth-round pick in the 2012 draft and a quiet guy on the edges of the Seahawks’ cacophony.
To Sherman’s Penn, he is Teller.
So after the news of the failed trade went down, he was a more than a little floored by the reaction when re-entered locker room.
“I thought it was going to be awkward,” Lane said Tuesday.
Instead, he received a big ovation and hugs.
Said teammate LB Bobby Wagner, “I’ve never been around a situation where a guy comes back from a trade and acts like nothing happened. We had to do something funny.
“We started talking about his clothes. He came in fully dressed, looking like he was about to go to the club. We had to give him a little bit of everything.”
Re-embraced after the shunning, he now has to come as close as possible to replicating the productivity of one of NFL’s premier defenders of the last half-decade.
“I know,” said Wagner, “he’s very, very capable of handling the job.”
What else could be said? Brave words are the coin of the realm.
The Achilles tendon rupture that ended Sherman’s season in the 22-16 win over Arizona has severely dented the Seahawks’ Super Bowl ambitions, as did the injury to FS Earl Thomas a year ago. They are in scramble mode now, living hour to hour.
On the first day back after the mini-bye following the triage game with the Cardinals, the Seahawks said Lane would start for Sherman, former Seahawks CB Byron Maxwell was officially re-signed, and RB Mike Davis was promoted from the practice squad to replace RB C.J.Prosise, placed on injured reserve (eight weeks) with a couple of sprained ankles.
Coach Pete Carroll declined to offer definitive updates on injuries to LT Duane Brown, SS Kam Chancellor and DT Jarran Reed. But he did know one thing.
“We are very fortunate to have Jeremy Lane with us and ready to play,” he said after practice. “Jeremy has legitimately been a starter, so we couldn’t be much more fortunate than that, to have a guy step up (who) has been around the program.”
As a six-year veteran, Lane is certainly better than anyone off the street, although that was the designation for Maxwell after he was cut by Miami just about the time Lane became a castoff.
“It’s hard to explain,” Lane said of the emotional whipsaw. “Very crazy. An emotional roller coaster. I had to stay mentally strong for it.”
Before Sherman was injured, a change had taken place in the Legion of Boom. Rookie CB Shaquill Griffin matured as fast as any coach could have hoped into the starter opposite Sherman. And CB Justin Coleman had earned the nickel spot that had been the province of Lane, who strained a groin muscle Oct. 1 against Indianapolis and missed two games.
On social media, Lane conveyed his dismay, saying that losing his job while injured was “ridiculous.”
Actually, ridiculous hadn’t even happened yet. Lane returned from his earlier injuries for the game against Houston, the team to which he was about to be traded for Brown. But he had to leave the game with a fresh injury, a bruised thigh, which would end Texans career in less than a day.
Feel free to put your head shake on turbo.
“It wasn’t even 24 hours, you know?” said Lane, a native of Tyler, TX. “I went back to the Houston facility to see the GM. He said I failed my physical. I said, OK, it is what it is. I can’t do nothin’ about it.
“What’s next? Back to Seattle. OK, g’bye. It was not long. It was ridiculous.”
Lane offered no hard feelings about about his career upchuck, including his Instagram followers.
“I wasn’t saying I was benched,” he said. “It would just take me longer to get back on the field. More of a rotation thing.”
Now he goes from the afterthought to the forefront.
“It’s gonna be crazy without Sherm,” he said. “He was a coach on the field. Basically, I’m going to take his role and be more of a leader. Talk to the young guys more.”
Oration is not something that comes readily to him, but the the Seahawks are low on options. Lane saw his first action since the failed trade at Arizona Thursday, and finished the game in Sherman’s place. He know claims to be healthy:
“I’m ready now, finally, to rock and roll.”
Asked how he might look back on this episode 20 years from now, he smiled and shook his head:
Now all he has to do is defend against Julio Jones, one of the NFL’s premier receivers who had his share of success against Sherman.
But it’s not as if Lane hadn’t built up his stress tolerance already.