By Brady Henderson
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll was not at liberty to discuss the specifics of the suspensions his starting cornerbacks are reportedly facing, but he had plenty to say about the players who will likely have to step up in their absence.
Veteran Marcus Trufant and youngsters Jeremy Lane, Byron Maxwell and Walter Thurmond are the next men up. Carroll, during his visit with "Brock and Salk" on Monday, said he's confident in their ability to step in should Brandon Browner and Richard Sherman have to serve four-game suspensions for allegedly violating the league's policy on performance-enhancing drugs.
"We're fortunate. We really are fortunate that we've got four guys that are available to play for us when needed," Carroll said. "[Trufant's] been there, he's got all the experience in the world. The other three guys are all guys that we've been grooming to play and they're all talented football players and we're excited about them when the time comes.
The Seahawks could move nickel corner Marcus Trufant outside if Brandon Browner and Richard Sherman are suspended. (AP)
News broke after Sunday's 24-21 loss to Miami that Browner and Sherman are each facing four-game bans, reportedly having tested positive for the prescription drug Adderall, a substance that is banned by the NFL if taken without a prescription.
Sherman has since denied using Adderall, telling Steve Wyche of NFL.com Sunday night that he has not "taken anything" that would lead to a suspension for performance-enhancing drugs. Sherman also wrote on his Twitter account that "This ... issue will be resolved soon and the truth will come out. Not worried".
ESPN's Adam Schefter, who broke the story Sunday afternoon, told "Brock and Salk" Monday that both Sherman and Browner are appealing their suspensions. Their appeals could be heard as early as this week.
"Clearly, Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner believe that they are innocent, that they have an argument here that they can get this overturned," Schefter said. "I've seen very few, if any, players succeed in appeals for performance-enhancing drugs, but they've got their argument, they've got their case and they believe they are going to be successful."
Schefter tweeted Monday afternoon that Browner and Sherman will play Sunday against Chicago while they await word on when their appeals will be heard.
If they are suspended at any point this season, the Seahawks would be forced to make a playoff push without two of their better defenders. Sherman and Browner have arguably become the league's best cornerback tandem. Browner played in the Pro Bowl last season as an injury alternate. Sherman has played at a Pro Bowl level this season, even earning consideration as the league's top cover corner.
"We do have good depth in this situation," Carroll said.
Not a ton of experience, however.
Carroll said Lane, a sixth-round pick, has been "really impressive" during his rookie season, but the majority of his playing time has come on special teams.
Byron Maxwell has also been a key contributor on special teams, but he's had trouble staying healthy since Seattle drafted him in the sixth round last season. Maxwell was inactive Sunday. Carroll said that decision was made to ensure Maxwell a quicker recovery from a nagging hamstring injury.
Thurmond has the most experience of the three, having played well when pressed into action as a rookie in 2010. But he has not been active for a game since returning from the Physically Unable to Perform list earlier this month. He's coming off two leg fractures that cost him parts of the last two seasons.
Lane, Maxwell and Thurmond aren't quite as big as Sherman and Browner, but Carroll said they have the size to replicate the physical coverage the starters have become known for.
Carroll said those three would likely play primarily on the outside, with Trufant remaining the team's nickel corner. Earl Thomas played cornerback in college, but moving him from free safety is not a consideration.
"I've got to wait and see how that fits together but I do know we do have a couple options," Carroll said.