Cornerback Brandon Browner practiced with the Seahawks on Wednesday for the first time since serving a four-game suspension, and his secondary mates were delighted about his timely return.
As Pete Carroll was counting down the final days of Brandon Browner’s four-game suspension, the Seahawks coach said the return of the team’s right cornerback would be like getting the band back together.
Browner practiced on Wednesday for the first time in a month, so the band has indeed been reunited just in time to take its show on the road for Sunday’s NFC wild-card playoff game against the Washington Redskins at FedExField.
To carry this band analogy to its logical conclusion, now that the secondary is back to full strength there’s left cornerback Richard Sherman, the lead singer who will need a Bieber-esque, hands-free headset so he also can dance up a storm; Earl Thomas, the centerfielder of a Pro Bowl free safety and also the lead guitarist who can go by “Slow Feet” to match Eric Clapton’s “Slow Hand” moniker; strong safety Kam Chancellor, who will handle the drums because of, well, his bass-drum of a hit on tight end Vernon Davis in the Week 16 thumping of the San Francisco 49ers; and now Browner, the bass player because the real beat will return now that he’s back.
And this band already has a name: The Legion of Boom.
“Getting Brandon Browner back is a big deal to us,” Carroll said on Wednesday. “He’s been a big part of what we’ve done here and he’s been a significant factor in the style that we play.”
Browner was an alternate to the Pro Bowl last season, and played in the NFL all-star game as an injury replacement. He returned two of his team-high six interceptions last season for touchdowns, including one to ice the Week 5 upset of the eventual Super Bowl champion New York Giants in the Meadowlands.
This season, Browner had three interceptions before missing the final four games of the regular season because he tested positive for a performance-enhancing substance that violated league policy.
Browner won’t meet with the media until Thursday, but that didn’t stop his bandmates, er, teammates from talking about just what his return means to the Seahawks as they enter the postseason.
“It feels great. It feels fantastic,” Sherman said. “Getting him back is a big boost for us. I think it will be big for our defense.”
And that’s literally, as well as figuratively, because Browner is 6 feet 4, 221 pounds. He will be able to use his size against the Redskins’ smaller receivers – 6-1, 215-pound Josh Morgan, 6-foot, 210-pound Pierre Garcon and 5-10, 205-pound Santana Moss. Browner’s stature, and style to match, also will come in handy against the Redskins’ No. 1-ranked running game that features the rookie duo of Alfred Morris, who has rushed for 1,613 yards and 13 touchdowns; and quarterback Robert Griffin III, who has added 815 rushing yards and seven TDs.
“His presence, his physicality will be a huge factor in this game, I’m sure,” Sherman said.
The reuniting of this band of coverage brothers in the Seahawks’ secondary also includes Marcus Trufant, the veteran corner who played as the nickel back before missing four games with a hamstring injury. He returned, and played well, in last week’s win over the St. Louis Rams in the regular-season finale.
“It’s real big for us,” Trufant said of Browner stepping back in. “B.B. is a big part of this team, a big part of the defense. Now that we get him back, it makes us even better.”
The Seahawks did win all four games Browner missed, and finished the regular season ranked No. 6 in pass defense and No. 4 in overall defense. That’s a credit to the jobs rookie Jeremy Lane and second-year corner Byron Maxwell did while subbing for Browner.
“I was proud of the young guys that stepped in while Browner was gone,” Thomas said.
Don’t get him wrong, Thomas also is delighted to have the band back together.
“Getting Browner back is big for us,” he said. “We’ll get our chemistry back this week and just do what we’ve been doing – which is playing great ball. It’s going to be great to have him back, because he’s just following along with the ball hawks we’ve got back there.”