DENVER -- Earl Thomas needed all of three practices and two defensive possessions to remind everyone of what they've been missing.
Playing for the first time since the Pro Bowl in January, Thomas had an interception and a pass-breakup that nearly led to another pick in the first quarter of the Seattle Seahawks' 27-24 loss to the Broncos in Denver.
The All-Pro free safety missed all of the offseason program, training camp and the preseason while holding out for a new contract or a trade to a team that would give him one.
"It was great having him back," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. "He's a terrific football player. He handled the return, and the players handled the return perfectly. He worked really hard, and they have embraced him coming back in.
"We knew we could not play him the whole game, but we wanted to give him a great chance to contribute, and he did -- immediately. He really just handled it as well as you could possibly handle it, and so did our players."
In his first comments to reporters since rejoining the team on Wednesday, Thomas said he didn't want to continue his holdout into the regular season and miss out on his game checks worth $500,000 apiece.
"Me and my agent talked about it, and we understood that I had a lot of money on the line," he said. "I just couldn't throw it away, so basically I decided to come back. I'm glad I did."
Thomas' holdout was one of the major storylines of Seattle's offseason, along with the significant changes to their roster in general and their defense in particular, which said goodbye to mainstays Richard Sherman and Michael Bennett.
Thomas is making $8.5 million this season, the final season of a four-year, $40 million extension he signed in 2014. That deal made Thomas the NFL's highest-paid safety in terms of annual average, but he has fallen to sixth since then. There has been no sign that the Seahawks are working on an extension for Thomas, but Carroll indicated that one isn't out of the question at some point when he said Wednesday that the organization wants Thomas to be a Seahawk for the remainder of his career.
Thomas, who memorably told Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett after a game last season to "come get me" if he were to become available, was asked if he still wants to be in Seattle.
"If they want me," he said flatly.
Asked if he'll be able to put his contract dispute behind him and just play, Thomas said, "I'm going to try to do the best I can, try to work my way through it. I've got a great team behind me."
Thomas said teammates have welcomed him back "with open arms."
"It was a smooth process," he said. "The coaching staff gave me my space to get through it. It was just a learning curve trying to pick up on the new stuff."
The Seahawks tried to limit Thomas' snaps, given that he was playing so soon after missing so much time. They spelled him for a few possessions with Tedric Thompson, but Carroll admitted afterward that Thomas ended up playing more than planned.
"I think I had about 65 plays," Thomas said. "I felt good. I felt like training with my brother and my team back home has been great and has been right on it. The only thing right now is my big toe hurt and my feet hurt, but that's about it."
Thomas delivered the first of Seattle's three interceptions of Case Keenum when he jumped in front of a pass intended for Demaryius Thomas and returned it 25 yards. That set up Seattle's first touchdown.
"I stayed with it, I read the QB, he stared the target down, I jumped in front of it, and I thought I had a pick-six," he said.
Thomas was asked if he felt "back" at that point.
"Oh yeah, I felt good," he said. "I haven't had one like that in a minute."