Thomas Rawls and C.J. Prosise will both be out for the second consecutive preseason game, leaving Eddie Lacy as the Seahawks’ lead back again.
Pete Carroll said Thursday Rawls and Prosise are close to returning from ankle and groin injuries, respectively. The coach said if Friday’s home preseason game against Kansas City, the third exhibition and the one time this month starters play into the second half, was a regular-season game the team would be pushing each running back to play. They’ve missed practices all this week.
“They are both, like, right there to play,” Carroll said following a walk-through practice indoors. “Both guys, I think if we were playing in a regular-season game they’d be pushing to play, we’d be pushing them to go ahead because we thought it was safe.
“But let’s just take another week, that’s really how we are going. Let’s take another week and get them through this weekend (players’ days off from practice), and then we know that they will be better off if we do that.”
Carroll also said speedy wide receiver and Pro Bowl kick returner Tyler Lockett may not play at all this preseason. Lockett’s been back practicing for weeks following the two broken bones in his legs from late December, but the Seahawks haven’t decided if they are going to preserve him from playing in games until they get real in 2 1/2 weeks.
“He has competed in practice throughout this week. He has looked very confident. He has looked fast. I am still watching him, though,” Carroll said. “I still want to make sure we are taking all the time we have available.
“There is no reason to rush him. He is a fantastic competitor. He knows what we are doing. He is well-schooled on everything we are asking him to do. We love the player that he is. So we are just going to make sure we continue to maximize his security and safety for his return. So that’s what we are doing.”
When I asked Carroll if there was any reason to play Lockett either Friday or in the Aug. 31 preseason finale at Oakland, the coach said: “Well, he’s dying to play football; he wants to play. He just wants to get the feeling and get out there. All of these guys want to get out on the field and get going. We may or may not exercise that (option to play Lockett this month), so we’ll see.”
Pro Bowl linebacker K.J. Wright, gone last week for a German procedure to treat his knee, will play Friday, Carroll said.
Rawls has surged ahead of Lacy to be the lead back this month. Lacy’s performance through two preseason games mostly playing behind the starting offensive line (10 carries, 30 yards) hasn’t changed that.
Prosise, the third-round draft choice in 2016 and former Notre Dame wide receiver, has a specialty role in the Seahawks’ playbook as a pass-catching and third-down back plus in the hurry-up offense. After an offseason dedicated to training to more durability, felt tightness in his groin during pregame warmups for last week’s game against Minnesota. He hasn’t been on the field since. He’s been running with a trainer watching after practices this week.
On Tuesday, assistant head coach and running-game coordinator Tom Cable said this when I asked if he was concerned with another in a series of injuries and time off the field for Prosise since his first rookie minicamp in May 2016: “I think we all are.
“We want to get everybody as healthy as we can as soon as we can so that they can be playing together,” Cable said. “I think as you know, that’s the key to good offensive football. We know we have a good offense. And for us to go from good to great and excellent to elite, then we need all of the pieces out there. So we’re working on that.”
Rawls’ first two NFL seasons with Seattle have been shortened by major injuries. He broke his ankle in December 2015 when as a rookie he was leading the NFL in yards per carry (5.6). Last September, two games in to his return from that, he cracked a bone in his leg in a loss at the Los Angeles Rams. That set him back two months.
He has yet to complete a full season as a starting running back since high school -- he was on Michigan’s bench for three seasons, then transferred to Central Michigan and missed four games of his final season with academic and legal issues. That lack of proven durability is why Seattle signed Lacy to a one-year, prove-it deal from Green Bay this spring.
Rawls entered this month fully recharged and healthy, flying around the practice field and heartily slapping teammates on the back. It was obvious he was plowing into the challenge of Lacy arriving. Now Rawls’ characteristic enthusiasm is the same place Proise is: on the sidelines, out of the offense with two preseason games over the next seven days separating the Seahawks from full preparation for the season opener Sept. 10 at Green Bay.
“Both guys have shown really well in practice,” Carroll said. “We know what we can do with these guys. We just wish that we were getting the continuity of them playing with us.
“But other than that, we need to get them as healthy as we can get them going into the opener.”