By Chris Cluff
The hits just keep coming for the Seattle defense this week.
First the unit cost the team a game in Miami on Sunday, giving up 17 points in the fourth quarter for the second blown game in five weeks. Then came word right after that game that cornerbacks Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner are expected to be suspended for four games each for taking a banned stimulant.
Now, they are adding injury and even more insult with news that defensive end Red Bryant could miss Sunday’s big NFC game in Chicago with a foot injury and safety Earl Thomas getting fined $15,000 for a questionable roughing penalty against Miami.
Coach Pete Carroll told reporters that Bryant has plantar fasciitis and is questionable for the game in Chicago. Bryant has rested the foot off and on over the last few weeks, but he could sit out the entire week.
“He’s had it for a long time, but it’s kind of flared up here in the last couple weeks,” Carroll said, per The News Tribune. “And it’s affected him enough that we have to slow him down here at practice.”
Bryant’s bad foot might partly explain the decline of the run defense over the last few weeks. If Bryant has to miss the game, Alan Branch would move to defensive end and rookie Greg Scruggs would start at defensive tackle. Meanwhile, linebacker Leroy Hill’s ankle is still troubling him, and he did not practice Wednesday. Malcolm Smith played at weakside linebacker in Hill’s place.
As for Thomas’ fine, the Pro Bowl safety didn’t add much to his comments from Sunday, when he accurately said the officials made a bad call in a key situation and needed to know when to relinquish control of the game.
On Wednesday, he told reporters, “It’s just the NFL. That’s all I got to say about it.”
Sherman: Same old routine for us
Browner and Sherman are still practicing as they await appeals hearings with the NFL. Those hearings are expected to take place next week, which means the cornerbacks will play Sunday in Chicago. Sherman told reporters the looming penalties did not change anything.
“Nothing different,” Sherman said, per SportsRadioKJR.com. “It’s not tough at all. This is the same old routine for us. Regardless of what’s going on, you just go out there and play football. That’s the good thing about the game: You can just go out there and play, you ain’t got to worry about nothing. And there’s nothing to worry about in the first place.
“It doesn’t affect me at all, because it happens like that in life. There are always misunderstandings and mishaps, and all you can do is continue to go about your job the same way you’ve been going about it and let everything play itself out.”
Carpenter or Moffitt? Does it matter?
The Seahawks’ line had one of its worst games of the season in Miami. With James Carpenter back at left guard, the Hawks ran for just 96 yards on 27 carries. It rivaled the Carolina and New England games for rushing futility. The Hawks gained 98 yards on 35 carries at Carolina and ran for 85 yards on 26 totes vs. New England. The difference: The Hawks won those two games.
Carroll said John Moffitt will push Carpenter for the starting job this week. With Moffitt at left guard against Minnesota and the Jets, the Hawks ran for 369 yards on 88 carries.
“This is an important day for him (Carpenter), to come off a game and get back to hitting and all of the things he gets to do,” Carroll said. “And for John Moffitt, too. Both of those guys are going to be battling this week. They’re competing.”
We can only hope the entire team competes better in Chicago than it did in Miami.
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Chris Cluff worked as a sports editor and writer for The Seattle Times for 11 years and has written two books on the Seattle Seahawks. Since leaving the Times, he has written about the Seahawks and Seattle sports for Bleacher Report and the blog he shares with a fellow sportswriter, outsidethepressbox.com. His work can be found on Examiner.com.