RENTON Coach Pete Carroll is going to be cautious with Thomas Rawls’ return, thinks Jimmy Graham is “right at the edge of getting back,” says C.J. Prosise’s consistent absence has been “frustrating” and is starting the process of learning whether new, former All-Pro guard Jahri Evans merely “can fit” in the competition on the iffy offensive line.
That was the post-practice news from the ninth workout of training camp on Tuesday.
Seattle’s biggest news of the day came during practice, when Rawls returned to it for the first time since their heir to Marshawn Lynch as the Seahawks’ lead running back broke his ankle and tore ligaments Dec. 13.
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“It’s great. Just to be able to tell him a few days ago, ‘OK, you’re coming off (the physically-unable-to-perform list) two days from now,’ just to see him uplifted by that,” Carroll said of Rawls’ return. “Every step of the way he’s really taken something out of it. It means so much to him. He has the intensity you can feel, the passion that you can feel, it’s so real and you can’t hide it. He’s really excited.”
Carroll called Rawls’ injury during a game at Baltimore in which he was romping early, then his subsequent surgery and recovery, “heart-wrenching.”
Running backs coach Sherman Smith had a knee replaced this offseason. Smith told me after today’s practice he spent many, many hours and days inside the Seahawks’ training room recovering and in physical therapy next to Rawls doing the same thing. His position coach rem wowed with how fiendishly Rawls attacked his rehabilitation work this winter and spring.
“He has worked his butt off,” Smith said.
Carroll noticed, too -- to the point Rawls’ level of work this offseason was almost incomprehensible.
“He wants to be back so badly and he was willing to work at it, at the levels that we could barely understand,” Carroll said. “He was so vicious about the workouts that the stuff that he was doing to prove to the trainers that he was ready, the hops and the jumps and the bursts, and the continued work over a long period of time, it was unreal.
“I don’t think there’s anybody in better shape than Thomas. I think he put himself in great, great condition. It’ll be hard for us to help him maintain that level; he’s worked that hard. It tears your heart out because he wants to be here so much, yet it just took him a long time. He’s back now, and all the good stuff is going to happen.”
When, in a game? I asked Carroll if there was any need for Rawls to play in one of the Seahawks’ four exhibitions. The first one is Saturday at Kansas City. The last one is Sept. 1 at Oakland, 10 days before the games get real at home against Miami.
"I don’t think that’s a consideration, like we have to play him for him to play and all that. We’ll see,” the coach said. “Just give us a couple weeks and we have plenty of time here. We’ll figure it out. I’m sure he’s going to be chomping at the bit by the last preseason game at least, if not sooner. I don’t think it’s going to matter one way or another."
Was Tuesday’s return off the PUP list earlier than the team thought this spring?
“I don’t know. I wasn’t thinking that much about it. I wasn’t worried about it,” Carroll said. “We knew he was going to get back. He has just busted everything he could do with the workouts with the trainers. There was nothing else they could do with him, so it was time. We’re going to be careful. There’s no need to rush him at all. He’s a very violent football player and he needs time to get ready to play the way he does, so we’re going to take it however long that is. I don’t even have a schedule on it at this point. ... It’s really bringing him back to his level of intensity, which is an enormous level. It’s going to take us awhile."
A while is how Prosise has been out. Seattle drafted the rookie from Notre Dame in the third round in May with the intent to make him its third-down, pass-catching running back. But he missed much of the minicamps with a hip-flexor injury (the same injury that cost him 10 days of Notre Dame’s fall camp last summer). Then, 10 minutes into the Seahawks’ first training-camp practice July 30, Prosise strained his hamstring in a special-teams drill.
“He’s missed a ton, there’s no other way to put it,” Carroll said. “He finished (organized team activities) with three days of good work that showed us what we’re looking for, so it’s just frustrating for everybody because we know he’s got a lot to learn. He’s got a big role that he has a chance to fill, if he does well with it. It’s just been unfortunate and frustrating.”
Carroll said “I would think he might have a chance” to play Thursday, Aug. 18 against Minnesota.
“We’ll dump it on him,” the coach said. “He’s studying really hard.. He’s working at it, and he’s doing good in his rehab. But there’s nothing like getting in the huddle, breaking the huddle with everybody and doing the whole stuff."
In the meantime, the Seahawks have moved cornerback George Farmer to running back to catch passes -- basically fill Prosise’s expected role. Farmer was a running back that caught passes at USC, and Smith noted he can run a 4.3 40-yard dash.
Graham remains on the PUP list while recovering from surgery to repair a ruptured patellar tendon in his knee he got Nov. 29. He hasn’t practiced since.
“He is so frustrated to not be back out,” Carroll said. “He is right at the edge of getting back. He is really close, yeah.”
Evans signed this past weekend after 10 years and six Pro Bowls as a right guard with the New Orleans Saints.
My first impression of Evans: It’s a good thing for him it’s only Aug. 9.
He looks like he will turn 33 this month. He also looks like he will need time to get into everyday practice and playing shape. Plus, he’s on a side of the line he hasn’t played college more than a decade ago. He was the third-team left guard on Tuesday, behind second-year man Mark Glowinski and rookie draft choice Rees Odhiambo. It was odd and jarring to see a four-time All-Pro as a third stringer on a line as unsettled and unproven as Seattle’s.
It’s clear Evans is for now on a proving ground to show the coaches he has value as a “swing” guard that can play either left side or right. Starting, a foregone conclusion of many last week when news of his free-agent visit to the Seahawks broke, is nowhere near a sure thing. Top rookie pick Germain Ifedi has been the early star at camp at right guard, and Carroll plus veteran line coach Tom Cable really like Mark Glowinski, the 2015 draft choice who is currently the No. 1 left guard.
“This is really the first chance I get to see Jahri really on good film,” Carroll said. “This is the first real practice for him to see if he can fit into the competition of it all, as well.
“The young guys have all improved. We are really happy about it, but we’ve got to keep pushing, keep getting better.”