By John Boyle Herald Writer
RENTON — Cornerback Brandon Browner has a good chance of returning from a hamstring injury this week.
And considering who has become the San Francisco 49ers’ biggest receiving threat, that could be very good news for the Seattle Seahawks. Anquan Boldin, who was traded from Baltimore to San Francisco in the offseason, debuted with his new team by catching 13 passes for 208 yards and a touchdown.
Boldin isn’t particularly fast — some might even call him slow by receiver standards — but the 220-pounder is one of the most physical receivers in the game and one of the best at winning contested balls. And few cornerbacks, if any, match up with that type of receiver better than Browner.
“He’s going to practice tomorrow,” Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said of Browner. “He’s been running all week, Monday, Tuesday and now again today, and it looks like he’s got a real chance to make it back. We’re going to try to do it right and not push it too soon, but tomorrow will be a big day for us to understand more. Then we’ll go all the way to Friday to see how he responds to Thursday, so we won’t know for a while.”
In 2011, Browner was part of a team effort that held Boldin to a season-low 22 yards on two catches. Yet even if the Seahawks cover Boldin well, they know it’s no guarantee they’ll shut down the player who has become Colin Kaepernick’s go-to target with Michael Crabtree sidelined by an Achilles injury.
“There’s nobody like Boldin,” Carroll said. “He’s just a fantastic football player. As they’re growing with him, they’re finding out there are all kinds of ways they’ll use him I’m sure in the future. … There’s really nothing he can’t do. He’s a very, very well-equipped football player.
“You just cover him. You’ve got to cover him and rush the passer. The problem with Anquan is you can cover him and he can still make the play, because he’s such a dominant catcher. Guys can hang all over him and it doesn’t faze him at all. You’ve just got to have good fortune on that day, and make sure you’re there.”
Kam Chancellor, who gave himself a concussion and earned a fine with a helmet-to-helmet hit on Boldin two years ago, says being physical is still a priority, though he has learned he can no longer lead with his head. Yet he also knows physical play won’t deter Boldin.
“I’m trying to get some more hits like that — not like that one — but more big hits,” Chancellor said, “… But the thing about Anquan, if he’s covered by two or three people, they’ll still throw the ball to him and he’s a competitor, so he’ll go up and try to make that grab.”
Yet as much as the Seahawks respect Boldin as a playmaker, they also believe their secondary is much better equipped to handle him.
“He’s just a physical guy out there,” said safety Earl Thomas. “He’s not very fast. When you watch the Green Bay tape, he’s just kind of pushing those guys around out there, but when you talk about playing us, I don’t think that’ll happen.”
As expected, defensive end Chris Clemson was involved in practice for the first time. Carroll still isn’t putting a timeline on Clemons’ return, however.
“He’s still working his way into that position right now,” Carroll said. “He’s going to practice today though, first time he’ll go and get live snaps.”
Defensive tackle Brandon Mebane, who appeared to make it through the opener OK, sat out Wednesday’s practice with an ankle injury. Also not practicing were Browner, defensive tackle Jordan Hill (bicep) and safety Jeron Johnson (hamstring). Defensive end Chris Clemons (knee), defensive end Cliff Avril (hamstring), receiver Sidney Rice (knee) and tackle Michael Bowie (shoulder) were all limited in practice.
The Seahawks signed tight end Kellen Davis Wednesday and released backup linebacker Allen Bradford. Davis, a fifth-round pick out of Michigan State in 2008, was Chicago’s starting tight end the past two years, but struggled with drops and was released in March. Davis had 19 catches for 229 yards and two touchdowns last season. He had a career-high five touchdown catches in 2011.
The move gives the Seahawks three tight ends on the roster, depth the Seahawks decided they need after seeing Luke Willson come off the opener banged up.
“He’s (Willson) practicing and all of that, but it just made us aware that we’ve got to have another guy,” Carroll said. “He should be OK, but we just wanted to get some insurance there.”
The Seahawks also shuffled their practice squad, bringing back a pair of seventh-round picks from April’s draft, linebacker Ty Powell and guard Ryan Seymour. To make room, guard/center Jared Smith and defensive tackle Michael Brooks were released from the practice squad.
Herald Writer John Boyle: firstname.lastname@example.org.