Seattle Seahawks star safety Earl Thomas suffered a fractured lower left leg during Sunday's Week 4 road game against the Arizona Cardinals at State Farm Stadium. After the Seahawks' 20-17 win, head coach Pete Carroll confirmed the bad news, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.
Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network provided additional details: "Earl Thomas suffered a clean, lower leg break but no ligament damage and no displacement, source said. Not nearly as bad as a ligament tear would've been. He should be 100% by the Super Bowl... and free agency."
Fox Sports NFL provided a picture of the standout defender's exit in an air cast:
Thomas showed his frustration as the cart rode off, flipping off his own sideline:
Thomas, 29, has established himself as one of the best defensive backs in football and a key pillar of Seattle's defense since being the 14th overall pick in the 2010 NFL draft.
Alongside cornerback Richard Sherman and fellow safety Kam Chancellor, he long made up the vaunted "Legion of Boom" secondary that was a cornerstone of Seattle's consistently staunch defense.
The band broke up this offseason, however, after Sherman was released and signed with the San Francisco 49ers. Chancellor's future was cast in doubt this offseason, meanwhile, after a neck injury cut his 2017 season short. Ultimately, he retired.
In his first six seasons, Thomas didn't miss a regular-season game. Injuries have become a concern in the past two years, however. Thomas missed the final five regular-season contests and the playoffs in 2016 after breaking his tibia, and a hamstring injury cost him time in 2017.
The tibia injury was severe enough that Thomas even briefly considered retirement at the end of 2016. He ultimately returned, however, registering 88 tackles and two interceptions and earning his sixth Pro Bowl appearance.
With Thomas out of action, Tedric Thompson will likely step into the starting free safety role.