After an excellent display last Monday by backup corners Byron Maxwell and Jeremy Lane, who filled in for the injured Brandon Browner and suspended Walter Thurmond, an intriguing question has emerged: who will be the starting number two corner when Thurmond returns? And beyond that, who could be that guy next season?
Maxwell made some fantastic deflections Monday, and Lane in the nickel was solid as a defender and as a blocker: he led the way for Michael Bennett’s exciting 22-yard fumble recovery that resulted in a touchdown.
These two corners will stay as the number two and nickel corners for the next few weeks, at least until Thurmond is reinstated from his four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy. But given how they performed against a top passing attack in the New Orleans Saints, will Thurmond have a spot to come back to before the playoffs?
Thurmond has talent, there’s no doubt about it. So do Maxwell and Lane. An important distinction between these players, however, is when their contracts expire. Thurmond is a free agent come 2014, whereas the other two are under contract for at least another year. There is the possibility that coach Pete Carroll will keep Maxwell and Lane in front of Thurmond on the depth chart to really see the talent he’s got locked up beyond this season.
On the other hand, Carroll could play Thurmond to see if the speedy corner from Oregon has something to prove so he can stay in Seattle. Needless to say, it’s an intriguing and competitive situation to keep an eye on in a few weeks. In of the mindset that if Maxwell and Lane keep up their good performances, the positions will remain theirs. And why not? Thurmond irresponsibly blew his opportunity, and the other two have seized it.
And then there’s Brandon Browner, out with a groin injury and facing a one-year suspension for his second offense of the substance abuse policy. Browner is going to vigorously fight his predicament, and the sentiment to ESPN’s John Clayton is that Browner has a strong case.
Whatever the decision is, Browner’s contract will expire in 2014, and Seattle will have a tough decision to make. The 6-foot-5 physical corner has proven himself a valuable asset to the Legion of Boom on the field, but back-to-back policy violations have undoubtedly, at least to some degree, jeopardized his standing with the Seahawks’ front office. Again, Maxwell and Lane are proving themselves more than competent. Will this be Browner’s last year in Seattle? Possibly.
One thing is certain, and that is that Maxwell and Lane are not weak links to the Seattle Seahawks’ secondary. Drew Brees couldn’t beat them, and so it’s very unlikely Colin Kaepernick will this coming Sunday.
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