Brandon LaFell #11 of the Carolina Panthers makes a leaping first down catch against defender Brandon Browner #39 of the Seattle Seahawks during play at Bank of America Stadium on October 7, 2012 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
They're coming off a bye week that has allowed the team to get as close to full strength as they've been all season. The Seahawks appeared set to hit full stride in the final month of the regular season. Now they'll have to do it without two key players on defense.
CB Walter Thurmond and CB Brandon Browner are both facing suspensions that will keep them off the field for at least the next four weeks.
The NFL officially announced a four-game suspension for Thurmond on Tuesday for a violation of the league's substance-abuse policy. Browner is reportedly facing a one-year suspension for a substance-abuse violation of his own that is expected to come down in the next few days.
Head coach Pete Carroll expressed his disappointment with the decisions made by Thurmond and Browner after Tuesday's practice.
"Over the break, there were some issues that came up that we dealt with. One is that feel very disappointed that some guys won’t be able to play with us," Carroll said.
Carroll said they have continued to emphasize to the players the importance of making the right decisions and not making decisions that hurt the team. However, at some point he can't make the decisions for the players and the team will need to find a way to overcome the issues.
"It's hard to expect everybody to be exactly on point. You're going to be disappointed if that's what you think is going to happen. "It's more about how to be able to adjust and move with it and make the most of the situation and overcome it," Carroll said.
"We’ll always look to do it better, but we’re on it. This team is very strong about where we’re going and what we’re doing and what we’re trying to create. Because somebody slips that doesn’t mean that we’re not on track. I think we’re on tremendous track right now.
"The focus around here, the dedication of what we’re doing, the standard that we hold them to in all areas have been exemplary in many, many areas, and we’re really proud of it. That doesn’t mean that somebody is not going to slip and make a mistake now and then.
CB Byron Maxwell and CB Jeremy Lane will be the first players called upon to fill Thurmond and Browner's roles. Maxwell will take over as the starting cornerback with Lane helping in nickel packages.
With only three healthy cornerbacks available on the roster, the Seahawks needed to add some depth at the position. Seattle signed CB Perrish Cox on Tuesday and are expected to sign CB DeShawn Shead from the practice squad following the impending suspension of Browner.
Browner is appealing the suspension and had not had a resolution as of Tuesday afternoon. It's possible Seattle could place him on injured reserve with the groin injury that forced him to miss the team's last game against the Minnesota Vikings. Carroll didn't speak directly about Browner today because the issue is still pending.
Carroll on Cox: "He’s a good all-around football, player, he’s a good special teams guy, he’s played nickel, he’s played corner, he’s played a little bit of safety at times, he’s a really aggressive football player. We’ve watched him for years at San Francisco recently and so we’ve had a good look at him and we think he could fit in."
Carroll on Shead: "He’s been a terrific utility player. He’s played safety and corner for us, he’s big and strong and he fits the mold of the guys that we like. He’s a playmaker and he’ll have a nice role on special teams. We won’t hesitate to play him in the game because we know how he’s prepared himself. Again these guys have been in our system for such a long time that they’re really groomed technique wise."
Seattle also has inquired about CB Antoine Winfield coming out of retirement to return to the team but have not gone in that direction at this point.
Neither Thurmond or Browner will count against the 53-man roster while on the suspended list. Thurmond is eligible to return following the team's game with the Arizona Cardinals on Dec. 22.
Carroll said both Thurmond and Browner can remain around the team during the suspensions and the team will look to help them through their issues.