By Chris Cluff
The timing for the Seahawks couldn’t be any better. As they prepare to play a struggling Arizona team that is going back to John Skelton at quarterback, the Hawks are going to be short two cornerbacks Sunday.
Brandon Browner chose to cancel his appeal of a four-game NFL suspension and will begin serving it this week, and nickel back Marcus Trufant is out with a pulled hamstring again. Browner’s decision likely was made at the behest of coaches, who also are bracing for the loss of Richard Sherman once his appeal of the same punishment inevitably fails.
Browner can return Dec. 31, which means he would be available for the playoffs. Sherman probably won’t be. He will play this week and have his appeal heard Dec. 14, which means he might be suspended the next week against Buffalo or, at latest, in Week 16 against San Francisco. That would knock him out until the NFC championship game, if the Hawks were to get that far.
Browner and Sherman both reportedly tested positive for Adderall, a banned stimulant.
With Trufant (hamstring) also out this week, the Hawks will go with Sherman and Walter Thurmond as the starters, and rookie Jeremy Lane will be the nickel corner. The Hawks also have Chris Maragos, Byron Maxwell, DeShawn Shead (signed off their practice squad) and Ron Parker (signed from Carolina’s practice squad Wednesday). Shead, 6-feet-1 and 220 lbs., is a rookie who has been on the practice squad all season. Parker, 6-feet and 206 lbs., played in two games for Seattle last season but missed the final cut in September.
For Thurmond, it is a chance to prove he is healthy after a long recovery from a broken leg. He spent the first six weeks of the season on the PUP and finally played in his first game Sunday.
“It feels good to finally get the opportunity,” Thurmond told reporters, per The News Tribune. “I’ve just got to make plays.”
Receiver Doug Baldwin reminded everyone (via The News Tribune) that Thurmond is no stranger to starting, having started three games last season before suffering the broken leg.
“We forget that Walter Thurmond was actually starting above Richard Sherman and B.B. Browner before they got here,” Baldwin said. “So I have the utmost confidence in Thurmond, in just being able to practice against him, and also Jeremy Lane, Byron Maxwell. All those guys are more than capable of holding their own out there on the field.”
The Hawks don’t face any elite quarterbacks the rest of the regular season, so they might just get away with using the young corners — especially if Gus Bradley finally dials up some blitzes. And Pro Bowl safeties Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas will be counted on more than ever.
- With left guard James Carpenter out for the season, John Moffitt and J.R. Sweezy are vying for time at the position — even though they both played right guard earlier this season. Paul McQuistan has started the past nine games on the right side and has settled in fairly well between center Max Unger and right tackle Breno Giacomini. “We try not to move guys around,” offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said, per the TNT. “I mean, you’d like to be able to plug the next guy in, (because) then when you start moving pieces, now you’re affecting two and three spots. So we’ll do as minimal movement as we can, but there may be times where you have to do that.”
- Wide receiver Sidney Rice, who took a big hit on the winning touchdown in Chicago, passed concussion tests, was cleared for limited practice and is probable for Arizona.
- Even if Leroy Hill (ankle) returns this week, Malcolm Smith figures to get playing time at outside linebacker based on his solid play in Chicago, Carroll told reporters.
- Defensive end Red Bryant (plantar fasciitis) sat out Wednesday but figures to play this week. He played Sunday, and Carroll said he feels better at this point than he did the previous week.
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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.