RENTON, Wash. (AP) — Richard Sherman hung around the Seattle Seahawks locker room on Wednesday getting ready for practice as though it was any other week during the regular season.
But it wasn't typical. Not with the looming decision about his appeal of a four-game suspension where no one seems to know a timetable for a decision that could have a significant impact on just how deep the hottest team in the NFC can go in the playoffs.
"It's not weird at all. Either the truth is going to come out or it's not," Sherman said. "That's pretty much all that it comes down to."
It's an uneasy situation for the Seahawks. They don't want to go blindly into the season finale against St. Louis with the firm belief their star cornerback — who was surprisingly left off the NFC Pro Bowl roster — would be available.
Sherman practiced Wednesday, which could be his final practice until very late in the postseason or early in the 2013 season. Seattle coach Pete Carroll planned to rotate additional players in at Sherman's spot in case the awaited decision on his appeal for violating the league's policy on performance enhancing substances is upheld this week.
"We don't know what's going to happen, so we're not going to go blindly into it. We're going to get our guys in the rotation a little differently," Carroll said. "It won't change much though. He's going to get some work today, and the other guys will get work as well, but we have it in our minds that we have to be preparing for that."
Sherman missed two practices last week while he traveled to make his appeal. News first broke of the failed tests by Sherman and teammate Brandon Browner after Seattle's 24-21 loss to Miami on Nov. 25.
Sherman's appeal was based on errors in the chain of custody of his sample and that there were mistakes made by the tester. He's been outspoken in believing the NFL is not following proper procedures as laid out in the collective bargaining agreement.
Sherman reiterated those thoughts Wednesday and expressed a desire to pursue his case further in court, even though it wouldn't help him get back on the field this season if the suspension is upheld.
"I can't get back playing regardless. I can just sue the league, and that's probably what I'm going to do if they suspend me," Sherman said.
If Sherman's suspension is upheld he will go out with one of the finest games of his career. The emerging star grabbed his seventh interception of the season, was credited with four passes defensed, and returned a blocked field goal 90 yards for a touchdown in the Seahawks' 42-13 rout of San Francisco on Sunday night.
According to STATS, LLC, Sherman is tied with Pittsburgh's Keenan Lewis for the NFL lead with 23 passes defensed. He is tied for second in interceptions, and his burn rate — amount of catches allowed versus times targeted — of 46.2 percent is the seventh-lowest in the league for cornerbacks targeted at least 60 times.
Those numbers make his Pro Bowl omission puzzling. But players who test positive for PED violations aren't eligible to be on the Pro Bowl roster. Even before the Pro Bowl rosters were announced, Sherman didn't seem to care about getting a trip to Hawaii.
"It don't mean nothing," Sherman said. "I bet you I'll be on the first-team All-Pro. That means more to me."
Seattle still has one more week before Browner returns from his suspension, and its secondary depth could be severely tested this week if Sherman's suspension is upheld. Walter Thurmond, the first to step in for Browner, has missed the past two games with a hamstring injury and didn't practice Wednesday. Veteran cornerback Marcus Trufant went through a full practice Wednesday for the first time since before Week 13, but has mostly played covering slot receivers in passing situations this season and not on the outside.
If Sherman's suspension is upheld and Thurmond isn't healthy, the Seahawks could be starting rookie sixth-round pick Jeremy Lane and second-year Byron Maxwell against the Rams.
Lane has played well the past two weeks starting in place of Thurmond. Both Buffalo and San Francisco went after Lane on their first offensive plays and both times the rookie was right there in coverage.
"He's just not scared to mix it up with anybody. He doesn't care," Sherman said of Lane. "You're not just about to challenge him and expect him to back down. He's not going to back down from anybody. That's kind of what you get from Jeremy Lane."