Seahawks take another hit at cornerback

RENTON — Two days after he was wearing a protective boot on his foot and watching from the sideline, receiver Sidney Rice was back on the practice field and is expected to play in Sunday’s game against Buffalo.

That’s the good news for the Seahawks. Not as encouraging for Seattle is its situation on the other side of the ball, specifically at cornerback where the team’s depth will be tested.

Walter Thurmond, who stepped into the starting lineup last week in place of a suspended Brandon Browner, has been ruled out for Sunday’s game with a hamstring injury suffered in Wednesday’s practice. This is just the latest setback for Thurmond, who has battled numerous injuries dating back to his senior year of college. And while this particular injury isn’t nearly as serious as some of the previous ones that have sidelined him in the past, the timing of the injury could not be much worse for the Seahawks.

With Browner serving a four-game suspension, and with Thurmond and veteran corner Marcus Trufant both out with hamstring injuries, the Seahawks will play the Bills minus three of their top four corners. Prior to the Seahawks’ win in Chicago two weeks ago, Seattle had only used three cornerbacks all season: Browner and Richard Sherman as starters and Trufant as the third corner in nickel packages.

With Trufant out, rookie Jeremy Lane and second-year corner Byron Maxwell both saw their first action on defense last week, and thanks to the blowout score, both played extensively. That could turn out to be valuable, as both will be needed this weekend. Pete Carroll wouldn’t say which of those two will start, but whoever doesn’t will still see plenty of playing time in passing situations.

“We’ll play all those guys in the rotation,” Carroll said. “Jeremy Lane and Byron are ready to go.”

And as much faith as Carroll has in his young cornerbacks, he does feel better knowing they got their feet wet last week.

“It was really important,” Carroll said of the experience Lane and Maxwell gained last week. “We were kind of trying to get them out there in the rotation just to make sure, one, we can make an evaluation, and also get them familiar with being on the field. They have been playing a lot of special teams, but it’s different. So they got to play last week, and got extensive play which was important, and we feel better about that because of it.”

Maxwell and Lane have both said that they are equally comfortable playing as an outside cornerback or playing inside on a slot receiver, so the Seahawks have options Sunday. And both players also agree they are much better prepared for this challenge because of the experience they got last week.

“It’s important,” Maxwell said. “There’s nothing like game-time experience.”

Seahawks thin at WR

Even with Rice available, Seattle left for Toronto Friday short handed at receiver. Charly Martin, who suffered a calf injury in practice this week, will be placed on injured reserve, Carroll said. With Martin unavailable, that leaves the Seahawks with only four receivers on their active roster, though they have three on their practice squad, one of whom could be added to the roster today. Former Seahawk Deon Butler may also be an option. Receiver Doug Baldwin wrote, “Deon Butler sighting” on Twitter Friday afternoon, and while no move was announced, a team spokesman did say that Butler was not traveling with the team to Toronto. That does not mean, however, that Butler might not be added either sometime before the game or possibly next week. Butler spent three seasons with the Seahawks, but was released after the preseason this year. A message to Butler’s agent was not returned.

Other injuries

Defensive end Red Bryant (foot), safety Kam Chancellor (groin) and running back Marshawn Lynch (foot/back), all of whom were limited to varying degrees during the week, are all listed as probable.

Hill to start

With Leroy Hill battling an ankle injury the past two weeks, second-year linebacker Malcolm Smith played well enough that Carroll said earlier in the week that he wasn’t sure who would start at weakside linebacker now that Hill is fully healthy. On Friday Carroll said Hill will get the start, but that both players will see playing time Sunday.

Herald Writer John Boyle: jboyle@heraldnet.com.

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