RENTON Thomas Rawls and C.J. Prosise “can play” in the final preseason game. So could veteran cornerback Tramaine Brock, the former San Francisco 49ers starter trying to make the team after arriving two weeks ago.
Whether they will -- or need to -- is another matter.
The Seahawks expect Tyler Lockett to play next weekend’s season opener at Green Bay in what would be his first game of any kind since he broke his leg on Christmas Eve. If and when he’s ready, he will go right back deep on punt and kick returns.
In roster-bubble watch 2017, J.D. McKissic “has lit us up” with his recent performances as a kick returner, running back and wide receiver.
And George Fant had successful surgery in Florida to reconstruct his knee he severely injured last week. Now the starting left tackle faces a long path of recovery in hopes of playing in 2018.
That was coach Pete Carroll’s news following Wednesday’s walk-through practice, prior to the team leaving for Thursday night’s preseason finale at Oakland.
Carroll also said Frank Clark has a “legitimate” sprain in his right wrist -- the coach’s usual word for an injury being more than minor. But Carroll echoed defensive coordinator Kris Richard from Tuesday in saying the team expects its 10-sack defensive end from 2016 to play Sept. 10 at Aaron Rodgers and the Packers.
Clark visited a specialist on Monday to check on the right wrist he injured in last week’s preseason game against Kansas City.
“The results of that came out really positive,” Carroll said. “He’s got a sore wrist. He’s got a legitimately sprained wrist. He’s got some old stuff that kind of caused the soreness. But he’ll be fine. It’s not ... we won’t play him this week. He could play this week, but we are going to keep him out and be ready to go next week.”
This final exhibition game is different than recent ones. The coaches’ approach to playing time for reserves and players fighting for the final spots in making the team will be different, because NFL roster rules are different this year. Rosters have remained at 90 players throughout the entire preseason, instead of down to 75 by this time in August in previous years. The Seahawks and every other team have 15 more guys to evaluate in final pushes for the regular season and get game film for, so they potentially go get other jobs after Saturday’s roster cut down to 53 men.
That strongly suggest Seattle’s starters will play Thursday against the Raiders no more or perhaps even less than the one drive or so they’ve typically played under Carroll in preseason finales.
I asked Carroll Wednesday what the value is in playing starters in this game.
“There is value,” he said. “Depends on the situation and I think it depends on the team, all sorts of stuff. I think I said the other day, the new rules change things and gives you the opportunity to look at it a little bit differently. I don’t know how others are going to look at it. Again, this is our first chance to do this. But we’ve got a thought in mind.
“You get to see how it works out.”
Not exactly must-see TV. But it’s a wrinkle.
Rawls didn’t practice the last two weeks and has missed the last two preseason games with an ankle injury. Asked if the Seahawks expect the lead running back to play Thursday, Carroll said: “He can, yeah. Thomas can go.”
Then the coach grinned his usual, coy, last-media-session-before-a-game grin.
Prosise, the team’s third-down back who’s been injured often over his first 16 months with the Seahawks, hasn’t played the last two games, either. He’s had a groin strain. He returned to practice Monday.
When asked if Prosise was like Rawls for the Oakland game, Carroll said with an exaggerated head nod and another smile: “He can go, also.”
Last week, when I asked assistant head coach and running-game coordinator Tom Cable if he was getting concerned with Prosise’s many absences, Cable said, “I think we all are.”
For now it appears those absences will end next week in the run-up for Green Bay.
Carroll wouldn’t answer who he is lead back will be for the opener. He didn’t have to.
Rawls has been ahead of offseason acquisition Eddie Lacy all month for the lead running back job. Lacy’s three, unspectacular preseason games as the bigger, 250-pound plow back hasn’t changed that.
“I think when Thomas gets back on the field officially and he’s playing, it’s a great situation for us,” Carroll said. “We are really excited to have the different dimensions and different styles that the guys bring. Everybody’s got a good attitude. Everybody’s got a way about them that makes them different. I’ve always coveted that.
“So, they couldn’t be much more different in stature than they are. But I think they’re really terrific players for us.”