A week after being limited in the season opener, Thomas Rawls won't just see more playing time when the Seattle Seahawks play the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday; he'll be the starting running back.
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said Monday that the plan was to get Rawls more work than he got in the opener when he was on the field for only 22 of 82 offensive plays, but on Wednesday Carroll took it a step further, saying, "Thomas will get more work. Matter of fact, Thomas will start this week."
Rawls, whose 2015 season ended with a broken ankle in December that required surgery, was far from a sure thing to be ready for the start of this season, but after making a brief appearance in Seattle's final preseason game, he was able to play last week against Miami, though in a limited role with Christine Michael getting the start.
"I guess I'm going to have a little bit more of a load this week, but as far as preparation, nothing really changes," said Rawls, who carried 12 times for 32 yards and caught three passes for 26 yards in Seattle's 12-10 victory over Miami. "I still prepare the same way and just try to serve this team and contribute as much as possible… I'm excited to be out there. Evidently I'm going to have a huge load this week, so I'm looking forward to it. I'm excited."
Rawls said there was no pain in his surgically repaired ankle during or after the game, and that "I wasn't thinking for a second about my ankle," while playing last week. He was, however, very excited to see his first meaningful game action since that injury, which was very evident in the enthusiasm he showed after nearly every run.
"It felt amazing," Rawls said. "As you can tell when I'm out there, I'm so energized. I get very excited even if it's just a 2-yard run. I'm excited just to be out there just giving my energy to the team. But it did feel good to get back out there and get that contact."
One reason Rawls was so excited to be on the field, and is looking forward to this upcoming start so much is that he wasn't sure if or when this day would come. Rawls vowed to himself that he would make it back as he walked off the field in Baltimore last year, but the injury was serious enough that following surgery, he didn't know when that day might come.
"When I broke my ankle, it was always the unknown," he said. "I wasn't sure when I would get back—I wasn't sure if I would get back out there ever again—but I worked hard, I pushed hard, and this offseason went great for me. This whole organization took great care of me, we have some amazing trainers in that training room. I've been pushing, the offseason was hard, and look where I'm at today; I'm starting the game. I'm excited about it."
After Wednesday's practice, Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell added of Rawls: "He's always been our starter. He was our starter last year, and C-Mike's done a great job for us, I don't think in any way do we need to minimize what he's done because he's done a phenomenal job. He'll still get an opportunity to carry the ball. But Thomas has been our guy and you could see it in the game. It was good to have him back. He's a physical runner, he's got the style that we look for, the tenacity that we look for, and he kind of embodies who we want to be. He looked healthy, and as long as he's healthy, he's that guy."
The best photos from Wednesday's practice as the Seahawks returned to Virginia Mason Athletic Center to prepare for their Week 2 game against the Los Angeles Rams.