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Seattle CB Brandon Browner suspended 4 games

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Seattle CB Brandon Browner suspended 4 games

RENTON, Wash. (AP) The Seattle Seahawks are about to find out how much losing at least one of their top cornerbacks means to their defense.

Brandon Browner has dropped the appeal of his suspension for using performance-enhancing substances and will miss the final four games of the regular season, the league announced Wednesday.

Browner's loss leaves the Seahawks without a Pro Bowl cornerback whose size and physical play has flustered wide receivers for much of the past two seasons. Walter Thurmond, who was a starter for a short time during the 2011 season before suffering a leg injury, will take Browner's spot.

Browner will be eligible to rejoin the team on Dec. 31 and will be able to play in the postseason should the Seahawks make the playoffs.

``I've thought all along that we are very fortunate to have Walter with some background that has started for us in the past,'' Seattle coach Pete Carroll said. ``He's an excellent athlete. He played very well for us this last week and he'll step right up into that mode.''

News broke after Seattle's loss at Miami on Nov. 25 that Browner and fellow starting cornerback Richard Sherman were facing suspensions after testing positive for PEDs.

A day later, Browner's agent, Peter Schaffer, said his client had no knowledge of how any banned substance got into his system, but he did not provide specifics on when an appeal might take place.

Messages left for Schaffer on Wednesday were not immediately returned. Sherman is going forward with his appeal and he can play while that is under way.

``I'm still not commenting about it, but I'm disappointed when we lose anybody by injury or whatever. These guys work so hard to be here and all of that and you come to rely on guys, and when you lose guys it's always disappointing,'' Carroll said. ``But really where the focus goes for us is right to the guys who are stepping up.''

Browner has 44 tackles, three interceptions and six passes defensed this season. He is in his second season with the Seahawks after getting pulled from the Canadian Football League because he fit the mold of what Carroll wants: big, physical cornerbacks who can play man coverage.

He was voted as a Pro Bowl alternate in his first NFL season, and ended up playing in the game. Last season he had 54 tackles and six interceptions, two of which were returned for touchdowns.

Browner is the fourth Seahawks player to be suspended for a PED violation in the past calendar year, joining John Moffitt, Allen Barbre and Winston Guy.

``I've been disappointed about the whole situation, that it is something that he had to deal with it and we had to deal with it, but there is nothing we can do at this point,'' Carroll said.

Thurmond has played in just one game in the past 13 months, that coming last week in Chicago when he took over as Seattle's defensive back in nickel situations with veteran Marcus Trufant out with a hamstring injury. Thurmond played in six games and started three during the 2011 season before suffering a broken ankle at Cleveland.

Thurmond's injury opened up a chance of Sherman, who has developed into one of the best cover cornerbacks in football.

``It felt like I hadn't missed a step from where I was last year. I'm just trying to make progress and get better,'' Thurmond said. ``It's really just being patient, just getting back to my technique and my form of where I was last year and continuing to get better each week.''

With the Seahawks still unsure whether Trufant will be back this week, rookie Jeremy Lane will get the first chance at being the Seahawks' nickel cornerback.

Lane, a sixth-round pick out of Northwestern State in Louisiana, has yet to play a down on defense this year, but he has been a standout on special teams, especially in punt coverage. Behind Lane is second-year cornerback Byron Maxwell.

``We have some concern about it, but I also know we have forced them to compete with our best guys throughout the time and we're always anticipating with the younger guys that they are going to have to play, so they're ready to go,'' Carroll said. ``They are as ready as they can be.''

Carroll also announced that wide receiver Sidney Rice has cleared all concussion tests and is expected to play against Arizona. Rice took a shot from Major Wright on the game-winning touchdown in overtime in Chicago last Sunday.

Defensive end Red Bryant played against Chicago despite a foot injury and is expected to be able play versus Arizona. Carroll was also hopeful about linebacker Leroy Hill, who missed the Bears game with an ankle injury and was replaced by Malcolm Smith.

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The human side of the NHL's trade deadline

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USA TODAY Sports

The human side of the NHL's trade deadline

Congratulations! You just got a new job. There’s just one catch: it’s in a new city.

Oh, and by the way, you start tomorrow. Good luck.

That would be a pretty big shock for anyone, but it is the reality that hockey players constantly face and one that is exacerbated as the trade deadline approaches.

“I know fans and media get really excited about it, but they're not the ones that have to pick up and move their families,” Brooks Orpik said following Sunday’s practice. “I think players are looked at as kind of objects at times, just a number. People don't know there's a human side to trades.”

This season’s NHL trade deadline is 3 p.m. on Monday. Until then, every locker room faces a degree of uncertainty.

RELATED: KEMPNY GETS QUICK PROMOTION TO THE TOP-FOUR

Almost no player or prospect is untouchable. Even if there are no rumors surrounding a team or things seem set, the threat of a trade hangs over the heads of the players like the sword of Damocles until the deadline finally comes and goes.

Even for those players who know they won’t be moved or who can’t be moved because of various clauses in their contracts, it still remains a stressful time as they could still see friends shipped to another city.

“I think what happens on that day is all the players, as soon as they get off the ice at morning skate, they're all looking at their phones and trying to see what happens,” Barry Trotz said. “They want to see what happens around the league.”

Sure, a player can go from a last place team to a contender. On the surface, they should be happy. Behind the scenes, however, midseason trades always carry family implications.

“It's tough on guys,” Orpik said. “Guys have kids in schools or have roots in the community of the teams they play for. As fun as it is for some people, I think as players it can definitely be nerve-wracking for people.”

MORE CAPITALS: TRADE TO CAPS POTENTIALLY OFFERS JERABEK WHAT HE NEVER GOT IN MONTREAL

When those trades do happen, they obviously can throw a player’s life upside-down.

For those players who are not traded, the team has to adjust both to losing familiar faces and to embracing new ones into the locker room.

“When someone comes into a new group, it's not much changed except for obviously a new piece,” Jay Beagle said. “But it's definitely harder on them so you try to make it as easy as possible on them.”

Thus far, the Capitals have added defensemen Michal Kempny and Jakub Jerabek over the past week. While both trades were done in exchange for draft picks, Taylor Chorney was a casualty of the trades as he was placed on waivers to make room for the new additions and was claimed by the Columbus Blue Jackets.

“It's tough losing guys, especially guys that are well-liked in our room,” Orpik said. “Taylor Chorney is a really well-liked guy so I think that impacted us a little bit.”

On Monday, fans, analysts, players and coaches alike will all be frantically checking their phones looking for the latest trade news, but while the deadline brings excitement for fans, it bears very different feelings for the players involved. Those players are people working a job and those trades mean uprooting their life in a matter of days. Regardless of whether a player is better off in terms of the team situation, there is still a human cost to doing business.

“It can affect certain guys because their names are obviously spread all over the place,” Trotz said. “They're human too. They pretend to not hear it, but they do.”

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Michal Kempny already promoted to top-four at Sunday's practice

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Michal Kempny already promoted to top-four at Sunday's practice

After two games, it looks like Michal Kempny is already moving up in the lineup.

At Sunday’s practice, Kempny played on the team's second defensive pairing, lining up on the left of John Carlson. Previously, the Czech defenseman had been playing on the right of Brooks Orpik. The move to the left allows him to play on his natural side as he is a left-handed shot.

Here are the pairs from Sunday’s practice:

Dmitry Orlov – Matt Niskanen
Michal Kempny – John Carlson
Brooks Orpik – Christian Djoos
Jakub Jerabek – Madison Bowey

Acquired on Monday from the Chicago Blackhawks, Kempny has played in two games for the Capitals and has received glowing reviews thus far.

“He's a really good pro, that's what sticks out,” head coach Barry Trotz said. “He takes care of himself, he works at his game off the ice and with the guys, he has fit in very well.”

RELATED: THE TRADE TO WASHINGTON OFFERS JERABEK THE CHANCE HE NEVER SEEMED TO GET IN MONTREAL

“I've gotten to play a little bit with [Kempny] the last couple games,” Brooks Orpik said. “I think he's a guy that, he moves pretty well and he moves the puck pretty well and likes to keep things pretty simple. He's very consistent and predictable so he's very easy to play with.”

When the Capitals first acquired Kempny, it seemed like the best fit for him would be alongside Carlson. It’s a natural fit with Kempny being a left-shot and Carlson a righty. It also bumps down Christian Djoos to a third-pair role which is preferable to having a rookie in the top-four come the playoffs.

Should Kempny play well with Carlson, that would likely solidify Washington’s top two pairs. The Orlov-Niskanen pair was not going to be changed and Carlson was going to be on the second pair. The only question was who would ultimately play with him in the postseason?

The third pair, however, remains a work in progress.

The Caps will have to wait at least another day for the debut of their second recent acquisition as Jakub Jerabek cannot yet play due to visa issues and will miss Monday's game, reports Isabelle Khurshudyan.

Considering the issues Washington has had on defense, they would not have brought in another defenseman just to be a healthy scratch. He will get his shot to earn a spot in the lineup.

With two new defensemen in tow, obviously the team will need to experiment over the next few days and weeks to find the right combinations.

“We're going to have to probably spend at least the next 10 to 12 games doing that and then we'll have to sort of settle in,” Trotz said. “With eight defenseman, you sort of want to see which guys you’re going to play and who to play as partners and sort of a little bit of ranking. If someone goes down, who's filling that extra role?”

MORE CAPITALS: WHY THERE'S NO REASON FOR CAPS FANS TO WORRY