OAKLAND – When Thomas Rawls walked off the field in Baltimore with a broken ankle—yes, he actually walked off under his own power on a broken ankle—he knew this moment was coming. Rawls didn't know exactly when or where it would happen, but the Seahawks running back was certain he would be back in a football game at some point this season, and in Thursday's preseason finale at Oakland, that moment finally came for Rawls.
"When I walked off of that field (in Baltimore) it was all business, and I had no doubt in my mind that I would be back to this point," Rawls said following the Seahawks' 23-21 victory over the Raiders. "I wasn't sure when I would be back, but I knew if I worked hard every day, at some point I would get back out here, and that's exactly what happened."
Rawls only played one series Thursday, carrying twice for seven yards, but said it "felt amazing just to get back in that backfield, just get the feel of a game, get a couple of hits. It was good."
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll has been saying for the past two weeks that Rawls was on track to play in the regular-season opener, but he still was glad to see Rawls get even a brief tune-up for that game.
"I wanted to make sure he had the resolve throughout and was ready to do it, because we'd already declared he was going to be able to play in the opener, so the fact that he got in there for a few plays, got knocked a couple of times and that's behind us, it's fantastic," Carroll said. "It's an incredible comeback. He has worked so hard to get this done. I'm just so happy for him, all of our players are because they know he busted his tail throughout the entire offseason to get here. To be rewarded in a sense that he now knows he gets to play in the opener is really a big accomplishment. I'm really, really thrilled for that."
Rawls spent part of the week lobbying Carroll to allow him to play in this game, but despite wanting to play, he didn't feel like he had to answer any questions about how his surgically repaired ankle would hold up to game action.
"I think I answered those this whole offseason when it was sweat, blood and tears all by myself, me and my trainers," he said.
Rawls burst onto the scene as an undrafted rookie last year after replacing an injured Marshawn Lynch, rushing for 830 yards while averaging a league-best 5.6 yards per carry. Those numbers would have been even bigger if not for the injury that ended his season on the first series of Seattle's Week 14 win at Baltimore, but now that he's back to full speed, he and the Seahawks can look ahead to what he can provide to this year's running game as part of what Carroll has described as a 1-2 punch with Christine Michael.
"After walking off that field with a broken ankle, it's a blessing," Rawls said.
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Game action photos from the Seahawks' preseason finale against the Oakland Raiders.