By Chris Cluff, Examiner.com
The Seahawks are suddenly scrambling to find cornerbacks to replace their top three — now and possibly in a week or two.
But they couldn’t have found a better time for the attrition at the position to have struck, with the offense-challenged Arizona Cardinals bringing their eight-game losing streak to Seattle on Sunday.
John Skelton returns to quarterback after rookie Ryan Lindley struggled, and Skelton beat Seattle in overtime in the finale last season. The Hawks knocked him out with a high ankle sprain in Week 1 this season, and Kevin Kolb rallied the Cardinals to a 20-16 victory. Kolb is out with injured ribs.
The Hawks will go against Skelton and star receiver Larry Fitzgerald without cornerback Brandon Browner, who will begin serving a four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs. The Hawks also will be without Marcus Trufant, who is out with a pulled hamstring again.
Browner’s decision to drop his appeal likely was made for the good of the team, considering the Hawks also face losing cornerback Richard Sherman to a similar four-game ban if his appeal fails.
Browner can come back Dec. 31, which means he would be available for the posteason. Sherman probably won’t be. He will play this week and have his appeal heard Dec. 14, so he could be suspended the next week against Buffalo or in Week 16 against San Francisco. The latter would keep him out until the NFC championship game, if Seattle were to advance that far.
The starting corners both reportedly tested positive for Adderall, a banned stimulant.
This week, the Hawks will start Sherman and Walter Thurmond, and rookie Jeremy Lane will play nickel. The Hawks also have injury-prone Byron Maxwell and signed DeShawn Shead off their practice squad and Ron Parker from Carolina’s practice squad Wednesday.
Thurmond just returned to action last week after missing the first 11 games recovering from a broken leg. This is his chance to prove he is healthy and capable of contributing.
“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 pointed out (via The News Tribune) that Thurmond was once a starter for Seattle.
“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 will rely on safeties Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor to help the younger players in coverage, and defensive coordinator Gus Bradley needs to find ways to apply pressure to Skelton.
The defense has failed to get much pass rush recently, which is a big reason it has given up fourth-quarter leads in three of the last five games.
This would seem to be a game where the defense could regain its swagger, even without Browner and Trufant.
The Cardinals have the league’s worst offense. They can’t throw it (198 yards per game) or run it (81.5 ypg) very well, so it seems like a good game for Thurmond and the young corners to get used to playing a lot.