BRADY HENDERSON

Seahawks’ Thomas Rawls doubtful, Christine Michael likely to start vs 49ers

Sep 23, 2016, 3:17 PM | Updated: 4:28 pm
Thomas Rawls is not expected to play Sunday due to a leg injury that kept him from practicing this ...
Thomas Rawls is not expected to play Sunday due to a leg injury that kept him from practicing this week. (AP)
(AP)

RENTON – Seahawks running back Thomas Rawls is listed as doubtful for Sunday’s game against the 49ers, which means Christine Michael will in all likelihood get the start and the bulk of the work in Seattle’s suddenly thin backfield.

Rawls injured his leg last week against Los Angeles and was unable to practice this week. Coach Pete Carroll said the injury is entirely unrelated to Rawls’ previously broken ankle, describing it earlier in the week as a strain in a muscle around his shin.

Carroll said Friday that he doesn’t know if Rawls’ injury could linger beyond this week. He held out some hope that Rawls could show enough improvement when he runs on Saturday to be available Sunday, but he was by no means counting on it.

“We’re still hoping that he’s going to be able to come out of the chutes running tomorrow and Sunday,” Carroll said. “It’s not a dangerous injury or anything like that; it’s problematic for him at this time. We’re just going to be open minded and then still make the decision of what we want to do. We’re prepared to go without him if he can’t go, but we’d love to see him if we can get him.”

If not, Michael will start for the second time this season. He’s been more productive than Rawls through two games, rushing for 126 yards on 25 carries.

“He’s averaging 5 yards a carry for a reason,” Carroll said. “He had a really good offseason, he had a terrific camp. All indications that he’s ready for a bigger load.”

Earlier in the week, Carroll said it appeared that Rawls and receivers Doug Baldwin and Tyler Lockett would all be available Sunday despite injuries they sustained against Los Angeles. Baldwin and Lockett have both recovered from their knee injuries, and while Lockett is listed as questionable, Carroll said they’re both ready to play.

Quarterback Russell Wilson again practiced all week on his sprained ankle.

“He did fine, finished on a really high note today, was really the best that he’s been in the last two weeks,” Carroll said. “He looked really good today.”

In addition to Rawls, the Seahawks could be without another running back Sunday. Rookie C.J. Prosise, Seattle’s third-down back when healthy, is listed as questionable due to the hand injury that sidelined him last week. That has required him to wear a cast on his hand, which could conceivably make it difficult to catch passes and secure the football. Prosise did not miss any practice time this week, though that was also the case last week and the team still declared him inactive against Los Angeles.

“He practiced all week,” Carroll said of Prosise. “So he made it through it, so we have the option of playing him.”

Another rookie, Alex Collins, is the only other running back on Seattle’s active roster, so the Seahawks could make a move to bolster that position before Sunday’s game. One option would be to promote Terrence Magee, who’s the only running back on Seattle’s practice squad after being signed earlier this week.

The Seahawks have an opening on their 53-man roster after releasing fullback Will Tukuafu earlier this week. That also leaves them without a fullback heading into Sunday’s game.

“Wait and see,” Carroll said when asked about the team’s plan at that position.

In addition to Rawls, right guard Germain Ifedi and tight end Nick Vannett are also doubtful for Sunday as the rookies both continue to recover from high-ankle sprains.

Ifedi hasn’t practiced since sustaining his four days before Seattle’s opener. Carroll said there’s a “really good chance that he’s going to be ready to do some stuff next week.” In the meantime, J’Marcus Webb is expected to continue to start at right guard.

Vannett has been out since Seattle’s second preseason game. Carroll said Vannett is “really close” to returning and that he could potentially play Sunday if it were an emergency situation. But with Jimmy Graham now able to play starter-level snaps and backups Luke Willson and Brandon Williams both healthy, the Seahawks can continue to wait.

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