RENTON -- With a pair of tweets on Tuesday, Seahawks cornerback Jeremy Lane seemed to confirm that he has been displaced as Seattle's starting cornerback in favor of rookie Shaquill Griffin.
With Lane injured the last two games with a groin strain, Griffin has taken full advantage of his opportunity to start at right cornerback for the Seahawks. Griffin has essentially played starter's reps in four of six games this season as Lane was ejected in the first quarter of Seattle's season opener against Green Bay and left after just four plays against Indianapolis due to injury.
Griffin has played well in Lane's absence, which would be the impetus for keeping him as the starter even with Lane set to be available moving forward. Nevertheless, Lane didn't appear happy with the revelation.
"How I get bench on a day off !!" Lane tweeted. "S--- ridiculous."
While head coach Pete Carroll didn't specifically confirm that a change to the depth chart has been made, he did indicate that Lane was in a competition for the job.
"He wants to play and he had not had that chance to practice," Carroll said of his reaction to the tweets. "He got a little bit of work last week and hasn't practiced with us yet really."He's battling to come on back and this place is about competition and there is competition going on both sides. He has had really good play at the positions that he vacated and those guys are doing a good job, which is exactly what we want. So he just wants to play."
Lane returned to practice for the first time last Friday and has practiced each day this week, though he was limited on Thursday with groin and finger injuries. But defensive coordinator Kris Richard seemed to make the situation much more clear when asked about Lane's place on the team.
"He's on this football team. He's a competitor. It's one of those things to where you would expect a guy to be frustrated," Richard said. "But he's a competitor and we don't expect him to do anything but come back and keep battling and do everything that he's done since day one since he's been here.
"He's just suiting up and going back to work. Another day at the office."
It's Griffin's level of play that has enabled the Seahawks to make a switch. Richard Sherman initially earned a starting job in 2011 when Marcus Trufant and Walter Thurmond went down with injuries about a month into the season. It's a role he's never relinquished. Griffin may follow a similar path in seizing a chance that was presented to him.
"We don’t have a rule around here that if you’ve been in your spot, you get it forever. That’s not the way it works," Carroll said.
Griffin hast allowed just one touchdown through six games with 29 tackles and six passes defended. He broke up three passes against the New York Giants last Sunday.
"He's doing things right consistently and he's done that since he's gotten here," Richard said. "The next phase for him is taking advantage of these opportunities that he's going to get when teams challenge him and put the ball up in the air on him. That's what we're really looking forward to seeing that next phase of it in him being in position and starting to feel more and more comfortable to actually go up there and take the ball away."
Lane's role reduction shouldn't be all that pronounced. He will still likely get plenty of playing time in Seattle's nickel package. The only real difference is Griffin remains on the field when the Seahawks decided to use just two cornerbacks instead of Lane. Lane had already been moving inside to cover slot receivers in passing situations.
But Griffin's play has earned a chance to stay on the field moving forward.
"I'm continually impressed with that he's holding up such a consistent level of play and he's getting checked out too, he's getting opportunities and all of that," Carroll said on Monday.
"For him to be playing at this level, he is aggressively playing; he's not just out there surviving it, he's going after it and taking on the challenges and he's played very consistently. That's what's really impressive that he hasn't wavered at all, and I think six games into it, I think he's going to be OK. I think he can hang in there and maintain against whatever the matchups are. We'll see; there will be another great one this weekend, and we should see how it goes. I'm really very confident in him at this point."
Photo Credit: GREEN BAY, WI - SEPTEMBER 10: Shaquill Griffin #26 of the Seattle Seahawks attempts to break up a pass intended for Jordy Nelson #87 of the Green Bay Packers during the second half at Lambeau Field on September 10, 2017 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)