RENTON The Seahawks got their best injury news in weeks at practice on Wednesday.
Pro Bowl defensive end Michael Bennett, starting center Justin Britt (both as expected) and three-time All-Pro safety Earl Thomas (less so) returned to the field and were full go during the indoor workout four days before Seattle (7-3-1) hosts Carolina (4-7).
Bennett has missed the last five games following a cut block by Atlanta’s Jake Matthews into his right knee and then arthroscopic surgery. Coach Pete Carroll says the team is counting on him playing against the Panthers and reigning -- but struggling -- NFL most valuable player Cam Newton.
Thomas missed the first game of his career last weekend, the Seahawks’ 14-5 loss at Tampa Bay. He had started 118 consecutive games since Seattle drafted him in the first round in 2010, a Seahawks defensive-record 106 in the regular season. Steven Terrell made the first start of his career in Thomas’ free-safety spot last weekend.
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“I’m sure we’ll be happy to have him back this week,” teammate Richard Sherman said of Thomas, “but Steve did a good job.”
Britt missed the Tampa Bay game with a sprained ankle, then watched the Buccaneers roll to six sacks of Russell Wilson. Rookie center Joey Hunt made his first career start.
The Seahawks’ practice report Wednesday also included this -- or, more accurately, did not include: It was the first one without Wilson’s name on it since Sept. 14, after he got a high-ankle sprain in the opening game against Miami. Wilson’s been on the practice report, while practicing, with the ankle plus a sprained medial collateral ligament in his left knee and a pectoral strain on his right, throwing side.
All that is officially in the past now.
Coach Pete Carroll said Monday Shead was ahead of Thomas in recovering from his hamstring strain. Wednesday Carroll said the starting cornerback and Thomas have to make it through the practice week before the team will be more certain they will play against Carolina.
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Richardson did not participate because of a hamstring issue. At Tampa Bay Sunday he kept running down the field after getting knocked his route down the hash mark, and Wilson threw it to where he expected Richardson to stop instead. The Buccaneers intercepted the pass in the red zone to ruin what was in that game a precious scoring chance as the offense failed to score a touchdown for the third game this season.
Tripp, a third-year veteran from Montana that Seattle signed to its practice squad in early September, made his second NFL start last weekend at strongside linebacker. Mike Morgan will start there against the Panthers. Morgan’s missed the last seven games following a sports-hernia surgery, and is the team’s lone designee to return from injured reserve this season.
Graham’s absence is starting to become routine, mid-week maintenance for the patellar-tendon surgery he had in his knee last winter.