Seattle Seahawks

Seahawks expecting Russell Wilson ‘full go’ in L.A., with Thomas Rawls starting

Russell Wilson suffered a sprained ankle in last Sunday’s win over Miami, but will be ready to go this week when the Seahawks travel to Los Angeles to face the Rams.
Russell Wilson suffered a sprained ankle in last Sunday’s win over Miami, but will be ready to go this week when the Seahawks travel to Los Angeles to face the Rams. The Associated Press

Russell Wilson was “full go” in practice.

Thomas Rawls is fully back to start a game.

The first- and second-most important members of the Seahawks backfield apparently will start together Sunday against the Rams in Los Angeles. The last time they did that was Dec. 13, the day Rawls broke his ankle and tore ligaments while running through the Baltimore Ravens.

Wilson had a substantial black wraps around both ankles while fully participating in practice Wednesday,three days after Miami’s Ndamukong Suh sprained the $87.6 million quarterback’s right ankle.

Wilson stayed in the season opener without missing a play, and led Seattle with a touchdown pass to Doug Baldwin with 31 seconds remaining in the 12-10 win.

Wilson was on Seattle’s practice-participation/injury report for the first time in his five NFL seasons. But coach Pete Carroll said: “He’s fine.”

Offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said that after watching Wilson for almost two hours on the field: “We’re expecting him to be full go” against the Rams.

“He’s amazing in his preparation,” Bevell said. “He’s probably not even sleeping with all the rehab that he’s doing. And I expect him to be ready to go.”

So Wilson’s streak of never missing a practice, let alone a game, apparently will stay intact this week and weekend. But we’ll see if he’s limited getting away from a Rams defensive front that has swarmed him for 35 sacks in eight career games. That’s the most by any of Wilson’s opponents.

What will end Sunday at the Los Angeles Coliseum is Rawls’ long, sometimes scary path of self-doubt on his way back to Seattle’s starting lineup. The Seahawks say they feel their replacement for the retired Marshawn Lynch as the feature back is ready for the 20 or so carries he would customarily get.

That’s with screws and a metal plate inside the bottom of Rawls’ left leg.

“When I broke my ankle, there was always the unknown,” Rawls, 23, admitted Wednesday about his first major injury.

“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, and I pushed toward it. And this offseason went great for me. This whole organization and this team took great care of me.”

Carroll has emphasized that last week was essentially Rawls’ “second preseason game” in his recovery. He played in one exhibition, the last one on Sept. 1 in Oakland, and got but two carries in that.

While Rawls recovered, Christine Michael took full advantage of his opportunity to regain the Seahawks’ trust in his second go-round with the team. Michael’s decisiveness while running and his professional preparation earned him the start in the opener.

But Rawls remained No. 1 for whenever he was ready to play fully.

“He’s always been our starter,” Bevell said.

Michael had 15 carries for 66 yards against the Dolphins. Rawls had 12 rushes for 32 yards.

Now, Rawls is ready to assume the majority of carries — and maybe earlier than most people expected.

But not Sherman Smith.

The Seattle running backs coach had a knee replaced this offseason. Smith spent many long days inside the team’s training room in physical therapy — next to Rawls doing the same thing.

His position coach was wowed with how fiendishly Rawls attacked his rehabilitation during the winter, spring and summer.

“He has worked his butt off,” Smith said.

Rawls admits: “I’ve been pushing it. The offseason was hard.

“And look where I am today: I am starting a game. I’m excited about it.”

This time last year, Rawls was scrapping to stay on the Seahawks’ roster as an undrafted rookie who had played almost one full season as a transfer at Central Michigan. That came after three seasons mostly spent on the bench at Michigan, a couple of hours south of his hometown of Flint.

Then Lynch had the injury-filled last season of his career. When Lynch got leg issues in September, Rawls was, to borrow the coaches’ phrase, next man up. Rawls soared. He became the first undrafted free agent to rush for 160 yards or more in multiple games of his rookie season. He led the NFL with 5.6 yards per carry.

But he remains something of an unknown.

He rushed for only 333 yards in parts of three seasons at Michigan. He played in nine of Central Michigan’s 13 games in 2014.

Rawls played through knee pain late in 2014 before missing the Bahamas Bowl with what the Chippewas announced was an academic issue.

Central Michigan had suspended him for two games when he was facing felony charges in a purse-snatching incident inside a Michigan casino. According to the Mount Pleasant (Michigan) Morning Sun, Rawls entered a guilty plea to a high-court misdemeanor of attempted larceny in a building. He was sentenced to a year of probation, 104 hours of community service to be completed within nine months, plus fines and restitution costs.

Then he missed the final three regular-season games and both playoff ones of his rookie season with Seattle.

As good as he’s been, he hasn’t played a full season of major football.

But on Sunday, he’ll be getting as full a September day’s work as he or anyone else could have imagined when he broke the ankle nine months ago.

“I guess I’m going to have a little more of a load this week,” Rawls said in an aw-shucks tone.

“What I’m going to work on this week is hitting the line a little faster. Reading (blocks) a little bit more. Being more patient, more calm. I was so excited for being out there (last week).”

Gregg Bell: @gbellseattle

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