Browner appeal decision in late Dec.

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Brandon Browner's appeal of his year-long suspension for violating the NFL's substance-abuse policy is not expected to be resolved until right around Christmas, league sources told ESPN, meaning the Seattle Seahawks are expected to have their veteran cornerback available to play until then.

Browner is recovering from a strained groin and will not play Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers.

But Browner could contribute as Seattle tries to wrap up the NFC's No. 1 seed and home-field advantage in the playoffs.

Browner is vehemently defending his year-long suspension, knowing his career might depend on it. His contract is up after this season, and a lucrative contract could await if he can somehow win his appeal.

Browner turned down an opportunity to reduce the ban by nearly three months, according to multiple reports.

A key member of Seattle's secondary, Browner made the Pro Bowl as a 27-year-old rookie after going undrafted out of Oregon State. He played three seasons in the CFL before garnering his first NFL job.

Seattle (11-1), which own's the league's best record, can clinch the NFC West with a win against the 49ers.