The week after an interception return for a touchdown highlighted the biggest game of his four-year career with the Seattle Seahawks, cornerback Walter Thurmond reportedly is being suspended by the league for violation of its substance-abuse policy.
First reported by Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, the suspension would sideline Thurmond for four weeks, coming when the Seahawks are already vulnerable in the secondary with the injury to starter Brandon Browner (groin).
Early reports hold that Thurmond’s failed test was for non-performance-enhancing substances. By not appealing the suspension, he will be able to return for the final regular-season game and expected playoff appearance by the Seahawks. The Seahawks cannot confirm any suspension until it’s announced by the NFL.
On Sunday afternoon, Thurmond tweeted: "I'm disappointed in myself for letting my teammates and family down."
Reserves Byron Maxwell and Jeremy Lane are expected to fill more prominent roles when the Seahawks return from their bye week to play host to New Orleans on Monday Night Football on Dec. 2.
Thurmond got his lone start last season while Browner was serving a league suspension for PEDs. An injury to Thurmond in 2011 opened the way for Browner, a free agent from the CFL, to start and prove himself as a Pro Bowl talent.
Thurmond’s career has been plagued by serious leg injuries. The fourth-round draft pick (2010) out of Oregon has started seven games for the Hawks. He returned his first interception against the Vikings for a 29-yard touchdown.
Browner’s recovery from the injury, suffered in the Atlanta game, is expected to take between four and six weeks to heal, meaning a possible mid-December return.
Without Browner and Thurmond, the Seahawks will have only three cornerbacks on the 53-man roster. A possible fill-in could be DeShawn Shead off the practice squad.
In the wake of bad tests by Browner, Richard Sherman (reversed on appeal) and Bruce Irvin in the past two seasons, the Seahawks players held a meeting in the off-season and adopted a team motto: “24/7 Leave No Doubt.” The message was one of accountability on and off the field. It was intended to serve as a reminder that, with the talent to contend for a championship, the team could not afford to lose any more players to suspension.
The timing of Thurmond’s absence is critical, as New Orleans has the No. 2 passing offense in the league, and the following week the Seahawks travel to San Francisco to meet NFC Divisional rival 49ers.