Running back Thomas Rawls made it through the week and "looked great" in practice, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said, which means he'll be on the field for the first time in two months when the Seahawks host the Philadelphia Eagles.
"Thomas looked great," Carroll said. "He's ready to play. 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. I'm looking forward to seeing him. He's obviously really excited. It's really like a whole new start to the season for him. It's going to be fun to have him."
Rawls return from a fibula injury is significant not just because he is a talented running back capable of making big plays out of the backfield—as a rookie he led the NFL in rushing yards-per-carry—but also because of the style with which he runs. Seahawks coach Pete Carroll has in the past compared the way Rawls finishes runs in the open field to a bull trying to gore someone, and for a team that wants to be tough and physical, not just on defense but in all phases of the game, a physical running game is what "closes that circle" of toughness. That's why you saw the entire team get so excited when rookie C.J. Prosise bowled over a Patriots defensive back on the sideline last week, and it's why Carroll is so enthusiastic about what Rawls' return can mean for the offense.
"Honestly, it really is (important)," Carroll said of Rawls' physical style of play. "He's a guy who lit us up last year really with his aggressive style, (he's) really always in attack mode, and we love that. We've kind of built it around that mentality. It's really nice to get him back… His aggressive style, he really fits the bill for us. We're really looking forward to having him."
Despite having not played since Week 2, Rawls insists he is ready for as big of a workload as necessary on Sunday, and while Carroll wouldn't say how the playing time would be split between Rawls and Prosise, last week's starter, it's safe to assume Rawls will have a significant role in his first game back.
"I don't have any problem with playing him quite a few plays," Carroll said. "I have no problem with that. I just want to see how it's going, how it is working. C.J. did a really nice job last week, he's ready to go, so we're in a good situation right now.
"There's no easing in with him. He's going. We're just cutting him loose and he's going."
Rawls' return is just part of an encouraging trend for the Seahawks in terms of their health. Tight end Luke Willson is expected back after missing the past four games with a knee injury. Tackle Bradley Sowell is also available after missing three games, though George Fant will remain the starter at left tackle, offensive line coach Tom Cable said Thursday. Cable said Sowell, who had previously played left tackle, would compete at right tackle, but Carroll said Friday that Garry Gilliam will again start at that spot.
Michael Bennett, who is still recovering from arthroscopic knee surgery, has been ruled out, but the Pro Bowl defensive end is still holding out hope that he can return next week, Carroll said.
"Mike was on the treadmill today," Carroll said. "He's working really hard, he feels great. I was with him this morning, he's really excited about getting back next week. That's what he's talking about. We'll have to see, it will be a little bit of a hybrid return if he can do it that quickly in terms of how hard he can show us early in the week and all that. We'll just have to see. We'll play it by ear. We're going to hold a good thought for that, but we're not in a rush. If it's obviously that he can go, he'll go. He is determined and he's got a great attitude about it."
Linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis has also been ruled out with a hamstring injury.
Here is the full injury report for both teams:
DE Michael Bennett (knee, did not participate)
LB Kevin Pierre-Louis (hamstring, did not participate)
S Terrence Brooks (hamstring, did not participate)
TE Zach Ertz (hamstring, full participation)
WR Jordan Matthews (back, full participation)