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Seahawks hopeful of getting Earl Thomas, DeShawn Shead back for Carolina game

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Running back David Johnson #31 of the Arizona Cardinals reaches with the football as he is knocked out of bounds on the one yard line by free safety Earl Thomas #29 and cornerback DeShawn Shead #35 of the Seattle Seahawks during overtime of the NFL game at University of Phoenix Stadium on October 23, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona. The Seattle Seahawks and Arizona Cardinals tie 6-6. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)

RENTON, Wash. — The Seattle Seahawks are hopeful starters Earl Thomas and DeShawn Shead will return for Sunday’s game against Carolina.

Coach Pete Carroll said Wednesday that Thomas and Shead were expected to practice. Both players suffered hamstring injuries two weeks ago in a win over Philadelphia and missed last Sunday’s loss to Tampa Bay.

Shead is considered to be ahead of Thomas in the recovery process and Carroll said the status of both likely won’t be determined until Saturday. Thomas missed the first game of his career when he was unable to go against the Buccaneers.

“He’s going to work today, we’ll see how he does,” Carroll said of Thomas. “It’s going to be a day to day thing and see how he works through the week.”

Seattle could have a number of injured players back against the Panthers, including defensive end Michael Bennett following minor knee surgery and starting center Justin Britt, who missed last week’s game with an ankle injury. Britt’s absence left the Seahawks with three rookies starting on the offensive line and Seattle struggled, managing just three offensive points in the 14-5 loss.

The Seahawks will be making a change on the offensive line with Bradley Sowell stepping in at right tackle as the starter in place of Garry Gilliam. Gilliam had started every game this season at right tackle but the emergence of rookie George Fant stepping in at left tackle when Sowell suffered a knee injury allowed the opportunity for Seattle to make a change.

“The opportunity for somebody else to take (Gilliam’s) spot is there. I think we’re going to see how Brad looks and see how he does,” Carroll said.

Bennett’s return will be a boost for Seattle’s defensive front that’s gotten a strong performance from Frank Clark with Bennett out. Bennett injured his right knee in Week 6 against Atlanta and played the next week against Arizona before deciding to undergo surgery.

Bennett said on Wednesday that he didn’t think he would have been able to play through the injury and surgery was the best option.

“Surgery never feels good, when somebody’s taking a knife and slicing your body, but I think overall it will be better in the long run,” Bennett said

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