By Danny O’Neil
RENTON – Cornerback Brandon Browner took a step back in his recovery from a groin injury this week, receiver Percy Harvin could take a huge step toward getting back on the field for Seattle next week and guard James Carpenter is back in the starting lineup.
Those were the three pieces of news from coach Pete Carroll’s final press availability before the Seahawks leave for San Francisco for Sunday’s game against the 49ers.
First, the injury update: Browner and Harvin are both out for this week’s game while linebacker Bruce Irvin (thigh) and receiver Golden Tate (hip) are back as expected and should be available.
For Browner, it’s bad news as he’s trying to come back from a strained groin muscle suffered in Atlanta on Nov. 10. Browner took part in portions of practice Wednesday but was absent from the workouts Thursday and Friday.
“We didn’t make much progress there,” Carroll said of Browner. “So we didn’t bring him back out.”
As for Harvin, while he didn’t practice this week, Carroll seemed optimistic that he will be back on the field next week with an eye toward playing.
“We’re looking forward to next week being a really important week,” Carroll said with regard to Harvin. “We think we’ve got a shot at it. I don’t care about that statement now that we’re hoping that next week is a big week for us with him. We’ll be kind of week-to-week in a sense as we go forward.”
The one change Seattle is making in the lineup is at left guard, where Carpenter will return as the starter ahead of Paul McQuistan, who had started there the past two games. Carpenter started eight games at that spot earlier this season before becoming a backup in Week 11 after Russell Okung returned at left tackle, freeing up McQuistan to move over.
Carpenter, however, had played in each of the past two games as a backup and made a compelling enough case to move up the depth chart and get the start in San Francisco.
“He’s earned that shot to do that,” Carroll said, “and we’ve told them a couple of weeks ago that we’d be in this type of rotation and we’d give these guys a chance to really battle. I love the fact that here we are, this late in the season, we’re still competing for spots.”