5 Seattle Seahawks Who Must Step Up Following Suspensions to Sherman, Browner

Nick Kostora@@nickkostoraContributor IIINovember 26, 2012

5 Seattle Seahawks Who Must Step Up Following Suspensions to Sherman, Browner

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    The Seattle Seahawks playoff hopes were already dimming after a Week 12 loss at the hands of the Miami Dolphins, but it is the news that came later in the day that hurt the most:


    Filed to ESPN: Seattle CBs Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner facing 4-game suspensions for violating performance enhancing drug policy.

    — Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) November 25, 2012


    Browner and Sherman are both catalysts on the Seahawks defense and key members in the secondary. The defense is clearly not going to be as good without them, but life goes on and players will need step up in their absence.

    Let's look at the chosen few who most need to elevate their play while Browner and Sherman are suspended.

5. Marshawn Lynch

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    What is the best way to ensure the replacement cornerbacks do not make too many mistakes? Keep them off the field as much as possible. 

    Marshawn Lynch is the Seahawks offensive workhorse and has gained over 1,000 yards this season. Seattle will likely try to lean on Lynch to win the time of possession battle in coming weeks and keep the Seahawks in low scoring battles.

    Lynch is fully capable of going into "beast mode" at any time, but performances like Week 12 will be unacceptable. Against the Dolphins, Lynch had just 46 yards on 19 carries.

    He will need to be at his clock-draining best to help Seattle.

4. Marcus Trufant

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    Marcus Trufant's impact this season has been minimal, but he will need to replace Richard Sherman in the coming weeks.

    Trufant is no stranger to the starting lineup or the Seahawks secondary, having been an every-down starter for this team for upwards of eight seasons. Trufant is a capable player and had his best year back in 2007 when he recorded seven interceptions and 85 tackles.

    This season, Trufant has failed to record an interception in relief duty and nickel assignments, but he is the safer of Seattle's backup cornerbacks.

    The other has a bigger task in front of him...

3. Walter Thurmond

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    Walter Thurmond has just 20 games of experience in his NFL career and has failed to appear in a game yet this season.

    Thurmond has been waiting to make his season debut and will undoubtedly be activated now that Sherman and Browner are out. His best year came in 2010 when he recorded 37 tackles in 14 games of action.

    With Trufant's level of experience on the other side, teams are going to attack Thurmond early and often once he does suit up. At 5'11" and 190 pounds, he has typical size, but is unproven.

    Thurmond must step up if Seattle is going to continue allowing under 200 yards passing per game.

2. Gus Bradley

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    OK, so Gus Bradley is not a player, but his job as defensive coordinator has just become exceedingly difficult.

    Bradley will need to diversify his playbook and mix up blitz packages and coverage schemes in order to confuse opposing offenses and help out his replacement defenders.

    The Seahawks have tough matchups in coming weeks against the Chicago Bears, Buffalo Bills and San Francisco 49ers.

    It will be on Bradley to find unique ways to shut down those offensive attacks.

1. Bruce Irvin

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    With backups manning the cornerback spots it will be critical that Seattle generate a pass rush and find ways to keep the opposing quarterback on his toes.

    Bruce Irvin is one of the best blitzing pass-rushing defensive ends in recent memory and can wreak havoc off the edge. He has top-end speed and a knack for getting to the QB before he can finish a drop and survey the field.

    Irvin has seven sacks this season and only 10 tackles. He is either making a huge impact or is non-existent.

    Down the stretch, Irvin must perform at a high level on a consistent basis and help out the backups that are being inserted into the lineup.