By Chris Cluff
Cornerback Richard Sherman said he felt like he was missing half his self with Brandon Browner out the last four weeks. Well, now Sherman is whole again.
A month ago, no one thought Sherman and Browner would play together again this season. But with Sherman winning his suspension appeal last week and with Browner returning to the team this week after serving his four-game suspension, the league’s biggest corner duo is back together just in time to face the Washington Redskins in the playoffs.
Speaking of Browner, coach Pete Carroll told reporters Monday, “He’s here. He’s worked out real hard. His weight is in good shape. He feels fast and all of that. He’s going to have fresh legs, relative to other guys here 16 games into it. But we have to see how he does.”
The Hawks had a revolving door at corner while Browner was out. Walter Thurmond started for him in the 58-0 shutout of Arizona. But a hamstring injury shelved Thurmond, and, with Marcus Trufant also out with a hamstring injury, rookie Jeremy Lane stepped into the starting spot opposite Sherman.
The team placed Thurmond on injured reserve Monday, clearing the way for Browner to return to the 53-man roster.
It ends yet another disappointing season for Thurmond, who has been snakebitten by injuries since his senior year at Oregon — torn ACL that season, broken leg in October 2011 and now this.
“We couldn’t get him over the hump on it,” Carroll said. “He kind of re-tweaked again last week, and that means it’s going to be a couple weeks again.
“I think the whole return after the leg break that he had, he never really got back to full balance with his whole body, and he was just vulnerable,” Carroll said. “And so we just kind of just have to ice him for a while here. Then when we get him back, he’ll be able to have a good offseason and get ready to go.”
On Sunday, Trufant returned from a four-game absence himself and had an up-and-down day against the Rams’ slippery Danny Amendola. Trufant had three tackles and two pass deflections, including one in the end zone.
“Tru had a very good game this week and did a nice job in his first time back, and I think he made it through feeling fine,” Carroll said. “He was quick and sharp on his stuff, so it’s a good chance that he’ll be playing this week.”
Lane, a sixth-round pick this year, got the start over Byron Maxwell the last three games. Lane had played well the first two games but struggled at times against the Rams. He was burned by Chris Givens on a 37-yard pass play in the first quarter and gave up a touchdown pass to Austin Pettis at the end of that drive. He also was called for illegal contact later in the game, although that penalty was declined.
Despite that uneven performance, Lane and Maxwell have gotten enough experience that Carroll is comfortable that he doesn’t feel he has to rush Browner back.
“I think they did fine,” Carroll told reporters Sunday. “This is a month of playing with those guys. I think they’ve done a fantastic job. It’s a great boost to have all that play time behind us with those guys. It’s very competitive, they’re very calm about it, they’re poised about it.
“Fortunately, we have guys who can play,” Carroll said. “If (Browner is) not quite right or if he doesn’t get off to a good start during the week, we’ve got other guys who can play for him. But we’re going to give him a heck of a chance to play. We’re thrilled to get him back, and we’ll see what happens.”
Sherman, who tied for second in the NFL with eight interceptions after he sealed the win over the Rams with a goal-line pick, is happy to have his bookend back.
“That’s my right-hand man,” Sherman told reporters Sunday. “That’s my guy. That’s one of my best friends. He completes us. He makes us whole.”
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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.