Even as rookie Chris Carson became the surprise lead back in Seattle's offense, Seahawks coaches reiterated that the team still had big plans for incumbent starter Thomas Rawls and free-agent addition Eddie Lacy.
Pete Carroll, offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell and offensive line coach/assistant head coach Tom Cable were all confident they would get production out of Lacy and Rawls in large part because they are both talented backs with track records of success in the NFL, but also because they understand the realities of the game they coach, and as a result, the important of depth.
Last season, the Seahawks had 18 different players record at least one rush attempt last season, including nine different running backs and two fullbacks, so they understand better than most teams how critical depth can be in the backfield.
And now, with Carson unfortunately landing on injured reserve, the result of a leg and ankle injury sustained in Sunday's win over the Colts, Lacy and Rawls will get their opportunities to show what they can do after a start to the season in which both have been healthy scratches on game day, Lacy in Week 2 and Rawls last week. The Seahawks really liked their running back depth heading into the season thanks to additions like Lacy, Carson and Mike Davis, who is currently on the practice squad, and now they're banking on that depth allowing them to have a strong running game even with their starter on injured reserve.
"(Last year) showed you that," Bevell said. "Coach and John (Schneider) were able to do a nice job of getting really strong guys at that position. The list was really long, and you can't keep everybody, so we just feel really confident with the group that we have."
For Rawls in particular, this has been a strange start to the 2017 season. After injuries limited his 2016 season, he hoped to get back to his 2015 form when as a rookie he led the NFL in rushing yards per carry, but an ankle injury kept him out of the season opener, then Rawls saw very limited playing time behind Carson the next two weeks before being inactive Sunday. But again, despite a lack of playing time early, Rawls has always been viewed as a key player for the Seahawks this season.
"We haven't seen him in a while," Carroll said. "We haven't had a chance to see him on a regular basis, so this is a chance for him to re-enter. I'm really excited for him. He's in good shape, he has worked out hard. There was no reason why he couldn't play, we just played Chris a lot, and you saw us flip it around with Eddie a couple of weeks ago. But now he and Eddie are going to take the load. We're so fortunate to have Thomas coming into the lineup. He's all fired up about it. He's healthy and he's real anxious, I can't wait to get him out there."
As for the notion that past injuries have caught up with Rawls, Carroll was quick to shoot down that idea: "On the practice field, he's flying. I don't think that's the case at all. He's healthy. He has had an extra couple of weeks to get back from the ankle that was bothering, but it wasn't a terrible ankle, it was a high ankle, they linger a little bit. He's raring to go now, so we're in good shape."
Lacy, meanwhile, had his best game as a Seahawk last week, carrying 11 times for 52 yards, showing why the Seahawks were excited to add him in free agency. Neither Rawls nor Lacy has been thrilled with their limited roles thus far, but that's what Carroll expects from competitors, so long as they don't become disruptive, which neither has.
"I wouldn't want it any other way," Carroll said. "(Rawls) wants to go. It's looked like we had a number of guys there at the running back spot and we were trying to decide how we were going to handle this, and it was uncomfortable to not have Eddie up or not have Thomas up because those guys are ballers and they need to be playing. But here it is and now they will be going side by side, battling. I really liked what that Eddie did (Sunday). I thought he looked great, maxed out his opportunities and looks like it's going to be a real nice fit for us. We are excited about that."
Rawls admits he was a little surprised to be held out of last week's game, but he didn't let it become an issue.
"It's a part of the game," Rawls said. "The only thing you can do is control what you can do—that's come out and work hard, practice hard, and continue to be a leader. And whenever you get these opportunities, they're so valuable, because you never know how long you'll play this game. I know I'm grateful for that just to be here and have this opportunity.
"It was a surprise, but it's part of the business, part of the game. We have other running backs who stepped up, and at the end of the day we won. At the end of the day, we've all got the same goal, and that's to win the NFC West and win the Super Bowl. If I'm suited up this week, I'll contribute as much as possible with the team."
Rawls figures to not just be suited up, but to play a significant role going forward, and he won't let what happened Sunday affect how he practices this week or plays in Sunday's game in Los Angeles.
"I didn't go into an attitude or a funk or anything like that," Rawls said of being inactive. "It was just one of those things where it's a business decision. I'm OK with that. I don't come before this team, I don't come before this organization. When I touch the field, whenever 34's out there, I'm out there, but if I'm not, I'm not. But you're going to know when I'm out there, because I'm going to be having fun and working hard for my team."
The best photos from the Seahawks' Wednesday practice at Virginia Mason Athletic Center in preparation for Sunday's Game against the Los Angeles Rams.