The Seattle Seahawks - currently 6-7 and in a dogfight for a division crown in the moribund NFC West - will be without one of their better offensive threats over the stretch run, as the team has lost wideout Deon Butler for the season with a broken leg.
According to the Associated Press, Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll told reporters on Monday that Branch, who was injured very late in an embarrassing 40-21 loss to the San Francisco 49ers, had surgery after the game in which a metal rod was placed in his lower leg to stabilize two separate breaks.
Butler, a third-round draft pick out of Penn State in 2009, ends his season with 36 receptions, 385 yards and four touchdowns. He trailed only the rejuvenated Mike Williams in the receptions and yardage categories, and is tied with Ben Obomanu for the team lead in receiving touchdowns. Williams and Obomanu were both inactive against San Francisco, and if they continue to miss time, the likes of Ruvell Martin and Brandon Stokley will need to emerge as the Seahawks chase a playoff berth.
Seattle closes its season with matchups against the Falcons, Buccaneers and Rams - and that finale against St. Louis, currently tied with the Seahawks for the division lead, looks to be critically important at this juncture.