Pete Carroll: Seahawks will ‘mix in’ Thomas Rawls vs Eagles

Nov 18, 2016, 3:29 PM | Updated: 5:14 pm
Thomas Rawls is set to see action for the first time Sunday since suffering an injury in Week 2. (A...
Thomas Rawls is set to see action for the first time Sunday since suffering an injury in Week 2. (AP)

One of the questions this week as Thomas Rawls has been preparing to return from a seven-game absence is whether or not he’ll step in right away as the Seahawks’ primary running back.

From the sounds of it, he may not.

Coach Pete Carroll said earlier in the week that Rawls will play “considerably” Sunday against Philadelphia but also gave a strong impression that Seattle will ease him back in while relying as much if not more on rookie C.J. Prosise, who’s coming off a stellar performance in his first career start. Carroll’s comments on Friday sounded the same.

Pete Carroll Show: Preview of Seahawks vs. Eagles

“Thomas looked great. He’s ready to play,” Carroll said. “We’ll see how the rotation goes once we get going, but he’s going to be mixed in right now and there’s no reason not to play him and I’m looking forward to seeing him.”

Asked if Rawls is more ready to handle a large workload given that he now has two weeks of practice under his belt as opposed to just one, Carroll said: “I don’t have any problem with playing him quite a few plays, no problem with that. I just want to see how it’s going, how it’s working. C.J. did a really nice job last week. He’s ready to go, so we’re in a good situation right now.”

Prosise gained 153 combined yards on 24 touches Sunday night against New England, showing that he’s capable of more than just a third-down role. Based on that performance, Carroll’s comments and the fact that Rawls is playing for the first time since cracking a bone in his fibula two months ago, it wouldn’t be at all surprising if Prosise remains Seattle’s lead back on Sunday.

Troymaine Pope may also be a part of the mix, albeit in a much lesser role if any role at all. The undrafted rookie was promoted from the practice squad earlier this week when Seattle waived Christine Michael, who had been the starter in Rawls’ absence. That gives the Seahawks four tailbacks on their 53-man roster, which is likely one more than they’ll keep active on Sunday. Seattle kept fellow rookie Alex Collins over Pope on the final cut-down, but Collins hasn’t exactly distinguished himself while playing sparingly this season while Pope impressed the team in practice this week, so he could get the nod.

“Yeah, there’s a really good chance that could happen,” Carroll said when asked if Pope could get some carries Sunday. “He had a very good week also. I really like that we have competition at that spot and guys are battling. We always want it to be that way, and it really feels like that on the practice field. You’ll have to see on game day what we’re doing there, but he had a good week.”

Gilliam staying in starting lineup

Carroll said Garry Gilliam will remain the starter at right tackle on Sunday. That had been in some question since offensive-line coach Tom Cable said Wednesday that Bradley Sowell would be competing for that job now that Seattle is sticking with rookie George Fant at left tackle, where Sowell had been the starter before spraining his MCL in Week 7.

Sowell is healthy enough to play, Carroll said, but there’s no guarantee he will on Sunday. The Seahawks are as healthy as they’ve been all season, and as such, they have only ruled out two players for Sunday’s game, defensive end Michael Bennett and linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis. That means Seattle will have to deactivate five healthy players in order to comply with the 46-man game-day roster limit.

Tight end Luke Willson is returning from a knee injury that required arthroscopic surgery and sidelined him the last four games. He’ll play Sunday, Carroll said.

Bennett is two weeks removed from arthroscopic surgery of his own. Carroll said again on Friday that Bennett has his sights set on returning next week, but he said that’s by no means a certainty.

New DT Jenkins expected to play

Newly signed defensive tackle John Jenkins is expected to play Sunday, Carroll said. It will likely be in nickel situations based on what Carroll said about the Seahawks signing Jenkins earlier this week with an eye toward improving their pass-rush. Seattle’s corresponding move was to waive Sealver Siliga, who’s more of a run-stuffing defensive tackle.

Jenkins, 27, is listed as 6 feet 3 and 343 pounds. He made 22 starts with New Orleans, which drafted him in the third round in 2013 and waived him earlier this year.

“He’s really big. He’s 340-something,” Carroll said. “We like big and he’s tall and long. He’s got long arms, his feet move well. He was a third-round draft pick for a reason. He was a good player at Georgia. We had him highly rated coming so we don’t have any problem with this one. We think he’s got a chance.

“We don’t know him really well. We’re going to learn about him, how hard he plays and that stuff, see if he fits in. When (Damontre) Moore came in a couple weeks ago, he lit us up with his effort. You show us that kind of effort, we’ll find a way to play you. I’m anxious to see how John does.”

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Pete Carroll: Seahawks will ‘mix in’ Thomas Rawls vs Eagles