Seattle won four straight to close out the season, barely missing a beat without the starting cornerback.
"It was fun (watching his teammates play on T.V.), because we were kicking everybody's butt," Browner said. "I was missing not playing with the guys, but it was awesome to watch from that prospective. The progression of our quarterback is awesome. He's playing like one of the elite quarterbacks, then our defense is playing lights out, like when I left."
Browner, a Pro Bowl selection last year, was suspended four games for violating the league's policy on performance enhancing substances. As well as the Seahawks played without him, they are certainly glad to have him back for the playoffs. Rookie Jeremy Lane and second-year corner Byron Maxwell both played well in Browner's absence, but the Seahawks are still better with Browner back in the mix.
"It feels great," said cornerback Richard Sherman. "It feels fantastic. Getting him back is a big boost for us. It'll be big for our defense. His presence, his physicality will be a huge factor in this game."
Browner was not allowed to practice with the team or even be at the team's facilities while serving his suspension, so he went home to California to work out. He said he tried to mimic practice as much as he could in his workouts, and while he knows he has to knock off some rust, he says he'll be ready for Sunday's game.
"Most definitely," Browner said. "It starts in the head. I'm mentally tough. I know I'll be a little tired out there, but at the end of the day, I'm fighting for a playoff victory, so I'll be all right."
Browner didn't get into the details of his suspension, which he initially fought before dropping the appeal following Seattle's win in Chicago. When asked about the decision to accept his punishment, he said, "It was about that time. Sometimes you make mistakes, and I was fortunate that the guys continued to win."
Browner's return could be even more important depending on the health of Lane, who missed Thursday's practice with a knee injury. Pete Carroll does not address the media on Thursdays, so the severity of the injury was not known. Other than Lane, however, the Seahawks remain a very healthy team for this time of year. Some significant players have landed on injured reserve, including guard James Carpenter and cornerback Walter Thurmond.
Otherwise the Seahawks have nearly everyone available, a rarity this late in the season.
"We are very fortunate right now," Carroll said Wednesday. "We'll have most everybody on the field today.
" ... Getting Brandon Browner back is a big deal to us. He has been a big part of what we're doing here and he's been a significant factor in the style that we play. We'll see how he does."
A heated rivalry?
The Seahawks and Redskins have only faced off twice in the last five years, but this Sunday's playoff game in Washington could be pretty heated, nonetheless.
When these teams played last season, players had to be separated during the pregame coin toss after Seahawks fullback Michael Robinson and Redskins cornerback DeAngelo Hall exchanged heated words at midfield.
During a radio interview in D.C. this week, Hall said, "I can remember going up there last year and almost fighting at the coin toss, so they don't like us and we don't like them."
Asked about the incident, Robinson said, "You trying to egg me on? Yeah, I'm looking forward to Sunday to see him. I'm looking forward to it."
According to Robinson, the trouble started when Hall was using some unsavory language in front of the young woman who was on the field for the coin toss as an honorary captain.
"You got a little girl out here, you've got to watch your mouth, man," Robinson said. "You're not going to come in our stadium and disrespect us like that. So that's kind of how it was, and it went from there."
And is there any chance that incident carries over to Sunday's game?
"Oh, I don't know, man," Robinson said. "You've got to see what happens on Sunday. I look forward to it though."
Herald Writer John Boyle: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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