Updated Saturday, December 15, 2012 at 01:01 AM
For much of the season, the Seahawks were the model of stability at cornerback. For the first 12 weeks, in fact, they were the only team in the NFL to use just three players at the position — Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner as starters and Marcus Trufant as the nickel back.
Since then, however, the Seattle CBs have been in a state of flux, and their depth at the position continues to be tested. When the Seahawks face the Buffalo Bills on Sunday in Toronto, two players seldom used until last week — rookie Jeremy Lane and second-year man Byron Maxwell — are expected to get extensive playing time.
The latest blow came Wednesday, when Walter Thurmond hurt his hamstring in practice. Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said Friday after the team's walk-through that Thurmond, who turned in a strong effort in Seattle's 58-0 win over Arizona, will not play against the Bills.
"He wasn't hurt out of the game," Carroll said. "He was hurt chasing a route out here. He didn't get hit or anything. He just took a step and fired up his hamstring."
Thurmond had been the replacement at starter for Browner, who last week began serving his four-game suspension for a performance-enhancing drug violation after dropping his appeal. There had been reports that Sherman's appeal for a similar violation would be heard Friday, but that wasn't the case. Sherman was at practice Friday and will play against the Bills. According to NFL.com, his appeal was delayed and a new date had not been set.
Compounding matters for the Seahawks is the hamstring injury Trufant suffered in practice two weeks ago. Trufant has barely practiced since, and Friday was also declared out of the Bills game by Carroll.
"He's getting better, getting closer," Carroll said. "We tried him some today. He's not able to get back at this time."
That opens the door for Lane and Maxwell to receive the most significant exposure of their brief NFL careers. One will start at right cornerback and one will be used in nickel packages, though Carroll didn't specify who would fill those roles. But the Hawks are thankful that both players got extended playing time last week late in the rout of Arizona.
Maxwell's playing time, other than special teams, had been limited to a brief appearance in last year's Chicago game. Lane had yet to play in an NFL game other than special teams. Both were in for approximately 40 plays against Arizona.
"They did really well," Carroll said. "They both looked disciplined; they played confident. Technique-wise, they played the way we had hoped they would play. For their first outing, they handled it really well."
Carroll added that, after watching video, Lane and Maxwell graded well on most plays.
"There were times where they were both taken down the field deep, and they stayed on top of everything," Carroll said. "So for the first time out and really knowing the significance and challenges of bringing young guys up, I was really excited about it."
So were Maxwell and Lane.
"Man, it was just great to go out and help the team," Maxwell said. "We were up by so much, they took Sherm out, and it was the young guys — me and J-Lane — to get some experience under our belts."
Maxwell was a sixth-round pick out of Clemson in the 2011 draft. Lane was a sixth-rounder this year out of Northwestern State in Louisiana.
"Last week was fun, my first time going out with the one 'D.' " Lane said. "Everything was moving pretty fast, but I hung in there."
And now the Seahawks will be looking for Lane and Maxwell to hang in against the Bills in more prominent roles.
"They have been playing a lot of special teams, but it's different," Carroll said. "So they got to play last week, and got extensive play, which was important. We feel better about (their role Sunday) because of it."
• Sidney Rice, who bruised his foot Sunday and was in a walking boot Wednesday, is listed as probable for the Bills game, and Carroll said he'll play.
• Backup receiver Charly Martin, however, is out. He injured his calf Thursday, and Carroll said he would be placed on injured reserve. There was no word on a roster replacement, though there was speculation about Deon Butler.
• Red Bryant (foot) and Kam Chancellor (groin) were also listed as probable, and Carroll said "they both are ready to go."
Larry Stone: 206-464-3146 or email@example.com.
On Twitter @StoneLarry
Seahawks @ Buffalo in Toronto,
1:05 p.m., Ch. 13
JOHN LOK / THE SEATTLE TIMES
Rookie Jeremy Lane (20) got some valuable playing time late against Arizona, which will help as he and Byron Maxwell prepare to start Sunday.