Seahawks running back Thomas Rawls carried a football Tuesday for the first time since a broken ankle ended his rookie season last December.
Rawls was limited to individual work in his first practice since being activated from the physically unable to perform list Sunday, but to Rawls, it was a big step toward getting back to where he wants to be.
“I think it fit real good in the time line. Just taking it day by day and getting better,” Rawls said after practice. “Just visualizing and getting my feet wet a little bit out there, and I’m so excited and glad to be out there with the fellas.”
Though he passed his physical and was eligible to practice Sunday, the rest of the team was having a “mock game” scrimmage, which made it unfeasible for Rawls to begin his first work of camp then.
Rawls suffered a broken ankle and ligament damage in a game against the Baltimore Ravens. After gaining 44 yards on six carries on Seattle’s opening possession, Rawls was engulfed by Brandon Williams and Chris Canty, who fell on him with his ankle caught underneath.
The injury ended a stellar rookie campaign that made Rawls the clear choice to replace a retiring Marshawn Lynch. He rushed for 830 yards and four touchdowns in 13 games with seven starts in place of an injured Lynch. His 209-yard effort against the San Francisco 49ers was the second-most rushing yards in a game in franchise history, trailing Shaun Alexander’s 266 yards in 2001.
“In the last couple days, we’ve seen him really take off in burst, and he’s worked so hard. He’s ready to be out there,” coach Pete Carroll said. “We still just have to work him into it and wean him, but it’s really exciting to have him back.”
Carroll and general manager John Schneider have repeatedly said Rawls and tight end Jimmy Graham are expected to be ready for the Sept. 11 season opener against the Miami Dolphins. Carroll said Tuesday that Graham (knee) is close to being activated from the PUP list.
“Give us a couple of weeks. There’s plenty of time here. We’ll figure it out. I’m sure (Rawls) is going to be champing at the bit come by the last preseason game, at least, if not sooner,” Carroll said.
Rawls and three other running backs were unable to participate in Sunday’s mock game. Christine Michael sat out due to illness. Third-round pick C.J. Prosise and seventh-round pick Zac Brooks were sidelined with hamstring injuries. Michael returned to practice Tuesday, and Prosise and Brooks are expected back within the next week.
Rawls feels he has to win the job all over again.
“I’ll always be a leader, and I’m going to always congratulate guys whenever guys go out there and do some of the amazing things that they do,” he said.