By John Boyle Herald Writer
RENTON — Less than a week after pacing the sideline in anger, Brandon Browner was running for daylight.
And yes, Browner did have the misfortune of being tackled by the 10-yard line at University of Phoenix Stadium, but that stumble aside, last week’s victory in Arizona represented a pretty impressive bounce-back game for Browner.
Following a rough start in Seattle’s Week 6 victory over Tennessee, Browner was benched for most of the half when Pete Carroll decided, after seeing Kendall Wright beat Browner for a couple of catches, including a 32-yard gain, that his cornerback needed to spend a little time on the sideline.
“I just wanted to give him a break, that’s all,” Carroll said after that game.
Browner, understandably, wasn’t happy with the benching. By the end of the second quarter, he could be seen pacing on the sideline, helmet in hand, clearly wanting back on the field.
“It’s tough, man,” Browner said Thursday. “You want to play ball. You never want to be the guy they pull off the field.”
Before anyone could jump to the conclusion that the benching was the beginning of a permanent shift, Carroll put Browner back in the game at the end of the second quarter, and he played pretty well against the Titans in the second half.
Then last week in Arizona, Browner made his coach look smart, both for pulling him off the field, and for going back to him. Perhaps a bit motivated, and definitely having benefited from a postgame talk with Carroll, Browner responded with one his best games as a Seahawk. Early in the Cardinals game, Browner used his length and strength to break up a slightly underthrown pass intended for Larry Fitzgerald. And not only did Fitzgerald not come down with the ball; Earl Thomas was able to make a diving catch for an interception.
In the third quarter, Browner stepped in front of a pass intended for Michael Floyd for his first interception of the season. Browner would have scored on the play had he not tripped himself up just shy of the end zone.
“He’s done really well,” Carroll said. “He had a very good game last week. That was a really cool game for B.B. He made some big plays, made a big tackle, knocked the ball around, had a pick, forced a pick.
“He had a tremendous football game last week. We all were excited for him, because he had a little bit of a rough spot there a couple weeks ago, and he bounced right back in that game, which shows his mettle, but to come back the next week and play that effectively was really cool to see happen.”
With Browner playing in the final year of his deal, and with so many young talented players due for big pay days soon, many have speculated that the 2011 Pro Bowl player will be gone after this year. And perhaps he will, those are the realities of the NFL. However, don’t think Browner has become some sort of afterthought in a secondary that includes standouts like Richard Sherman, Thomas and Kam Chancellor.
“He doesn’t get the credit he deserves,” Thomas said. “I feel like he’s right up there with Sherm, but Sherm just plays everything smart; BB tries to take everything. That’s just his mentality, you’ve just got expect that out of him.”
Thomas joked he was upset that Browner’s stumble near the end zone cost him fantasy football points last week because the safety has Seattle’s defense on his team, but he couldn’t be happier to see his teammate respond well to a little bit of adversity.
“He’s a competitor, that’s what competitors do,” Thomas said. “When their backs are against the wall, they just fight and scratch and claw their way out of it, and that’s what he’s done.”
Browner obviously wishes he hadn’t had to sit out nearly a half against the Titans, but he can see now it was for the best. After that game, he and Carroll talked about what was going wrong — Browner also had been beaten for a touchdown in Indianapolis the week earlier. The result of that chat is what you saw in Arizona.
“It worked in my favor,” Browner said. “I had to sit back. Really it was the talk we had after the game. He just explained what he was seeing that I was doing wrong, and that helped me out. … Just staying on top in Cover 3, realizing where my help was coming from in zones. That’s all I really did. I think now I’ll have success the rest of the year.”
As for what caused Browner to trip when he was so close to an uncontested score?
“I was looking around too much and my legs got to doing what my eyes were doing,” Browner said.
Middle linebacker Bobby Wagner, who has missed two games with an ankle injury, practiced on a limited basis. Carroll said Wagner is “way ahead of schedule” recovering from a high ankle sprain, but that his availability for Monday is still unknown. Receiver Golden Tate (shoulder) practiced fully and should be OK for Monday, Carroll said. Tate couldn’t finish Tuesday’s practice because of soreness. Percy Harvin, who returned to practice Tuesday, is not listed on the practice report because he is not yet on the 53-man roster, and with him still on the Physically Unable to Perform list, the Seahawks don’t have to disclose his level of participation.
Herald Writer John Boyle: firstname.lastname@example.org.