Sidney Rice #18 of the Seattle Seahawks runs after a catch against the Buffalo Bills at Rogers Centre on December 16, 2012 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.Seattle won 50-17. (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)

by Curtis Crabtree
KJR reporter
Twitter: @Curtis_Crabtree

RENTON - While the Seattle Seahawks are still waiting to see if they will have some key pieces along their defensive front available for their season opener, it looks as if the team's leading receiver from last season will be ready to go Sunday against the Carolina Panthers.

WR Sidney Rice returned to practice for the Seahawks on Wednesday and appears to be progressing toward playing this weekend. Rice did not play for the team in the preseason and was limited throughout training camp. Rice missed several practice and even traveled to Switzerland to have a procedure performed to alleviate pain on a troublesome knee.

However, Rice appears ready to go for the start of the season.

"He’s ready to go," head coach Pete Carroll said. "We’ve counseled our way through it in a sense and I think that we have done a great job of it. The guys in the training room have brought him to the point to be ready to go."

Rice said he expects the team to continue to manage his workload throughout the season to help keep him at his best for game days.

In addition, WR Stephen Williams was able to practice Wednesday which indicates he has passed concussion tests that should make his avaiable for Sunday's opener.

However, the defensive side of the ball still has question marks. DT Brandon Mebane (groin), DT Tony McDaniel (groin), DT Jordan Hill (biceps), DE Chris Clemons (knee) and DE Cliff Avril (hamstring) are all dealing with injuries along the defensive line.

Clemons will not play and Hill seems very unlikely to be able to go. Avril also seems to be somewhat questionable as he has missed significant practice time with a hamstring strain.

Carroll is hopeful, however, that both Mebane and McDaniel will be able to play Sunday.

A sudden question mark may be the availability of CB Brandon Browner.

Browner appeared on the injury report Wednesday with a hamstring strain and was limited in practice. The severity of Browner's hamstring injury is still unknown but Browner hadn't been dealing with any reported injury throughout training camp.

If Browner is unable to play Sunday, CB Walter Thurmond would likely get the start at cornerback with CB Jeremy Lane taking the nickel responsibilities. Browner could still be ready to play Sunday, but his status is now an unknown.