The Seahawks saw enough out of Thomas Rawls in his return to practice last week not only to feel good about his chances of playing this week when Seattle hosts the Philadelphia Eagles, but to also go into this week counting on big contributions from Rawls in that game.
"Thomas coming back ready to play, we're really excited about that, we've all been waiting to see that happen," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. "He has to get through the week and all, but he is really in great shape and ready to go, so we anticipate he will play and be significantly involved."
Carroll wouldn't go so far as to declare Rawls a starter ahead of C.J. Prosise, who had an impressive performance in his first start last weekend, but presuming Rawls gets through this week of practice OK, look for him to be a big part of the offense in his first game back from the fibula injury sustained in Seattle's Week 2 game at Los Angeles.
"Let's get him back, get him going make sure he's ready to roll and all that, then we'll figure that out in time," Carroll said when asked about the starting job. "I'm not worried about that a bit. If he makes it through the week, he's going to play considerably, because he's in great shape and he's ready to do that. We're not going to overplay him or try to take it too far too soon."
Carroll said the play of Prosise last week, as well as Rawls' return to health, played a role in the team's decision to waive former starter Christine Michael on Tuesday, as did the team's excitement about practice squad running back Troymaine Pope.
Michael Bennett isn't going to play this week, but Carroll said the Pro-Bowl defensive end, who is two weeks removed from arthroscopic surgery in his knee, has a shot at returning next week.
"Mike's really optimistic about it," Carroll said. "He thinks it's going great, and the trainers do as well. He's trying to shoot for the next game, and we'll see what happens. We won't rush him back; we'll do what we need to do to make sure he's well and right and all that. If he can prove that to himself and to us, then maybe it is next week, I don't know. He's really making a great comeback. It's only two weeks I think today from the surgery."
The Seahawks should get a couple of players back from injury this week, including tight end Luke Willson, who has missed four games with a knee injury.
"There's no way Luke's not getting back this week," Carroll said.
Tackle Bradley Sowell, who returned to practice last week, is "ready to compete to be back," Carroll said, but what that means in terms of the starting line remains to be seen. Rookie George Fant, who replaced Sowell at left tackle, has gotten better with each start, and Carroll noted that Fant did not have a missed assignment in last week's game, so Sowell is likely going to be competing to take back a starting job.
"How that fits together, you have to wait and see on that one, because we don't know either," Carroll said. "We're pleased to get (Sowell) back out there… It will always be about the competition. George has done a really good job with this opportunity, and Bradley was doing fine when he was playing, so we'll figure that out as we go."
Carroll said linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis, who left Sunday's game with a hamstring injury, is likely out this week.
Two key players who have been playing through injuries, Russell Wilson and Tyler Lockett, continue to get healthier, which bodes well for the offense going forward.
"I think there's nothing holding (Wilson) back at this point," Carroll said. "He's really ready to go, he's in sync with everybody, he had an incredible game last week, did a great job moving like we like to see him. He's ready to roll."
On Lockett, who injured his knee in Week 2 but has been playing through the injury, Carroll said "there's no question" that Lockett has made a leap forward in terms of his health. "He's finally back and running fast and confident and able to practice at a high level too all the time. He's played through some stuff, he wasn't quite 100 percent. You can see him; he's flying again."
The Seahawks and the Eagles have played 14 times, splitting their all-time series 7-7. The two teams will face off again this Sunday during Week 11 at CenturyLink Field.