Seahawks short on running backs, and options


 The Seattle Seahawks are short on running backs after the season ending injury to Thomas Rawls.

When Thomas Rawls went from Unknown Rookie to Rookie Sensation after his breakout 169 yard rushing performance in week #4 against the Bengals, it appeared as if the team had an embarrassment of riches at the running back position. Rawls was filling in for Marshawn Lynch, and fellow rookie talent Rod Smith was also active against Cincinnati.

How different, and scary, does it look now?

Smith was waived after that game and snatched up by the Dallas Cowboys as the Hawks were trying to move him back to their practice squad, Lynch has now missed as many games as he’s played this year, and Rawls is out for the season after breaking his ankle against the Ravens Sunday.

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What’s left are 34 year old Fred Jackson and recently signed DuJuan Harris.

So where do they go from here?

Option A would be to get Lynch back. He underwent abdominal surgery two weeks ago and Carroll says his status is week to week. Initial reports were that he could miss anywhere from 2-6 weeks after having some muscle repaired that separated from his pelvic bone. His rehab had been a bit of a mystery, and in fact Carroll joked that he was “at large” last week, but by Thursday he was back in Renton at the Seahawks facility. That’s a good sign.

Another option is to just hang on tight and go with what they have, Harris and Jackson. The problem with that is twofold, Harris runs hard but isn’t dynamic or instinctive, and the team appears reluctant to give Jackson too heavy of a workload due to his age. He carried the ball only 7 times against the Ravens after Rawls went down. Brandon Cottum is a promising rookie on the practice squad, but he’s more of a fullback at 6’2″ and 262 pounds.

The Seahawks could choose to bring back a familiar face. Former 2nd round pick Christine Michael is currently on the Redskins practice squad and could be signed. But there’s a reason the Seahawks traded Michael to Dallas before the season, and they aren’t known for reuniting with players they give up on. Also, there’s a reason Michael was cut by Dallas too….. he’s just not very good.

At this point of the season, there just aren’t any good options on the free agent market. Montee Ball is unsigned, but the former 2nd round pick was kicked out of Denver and went unclaimed. Bryce Brown is a big back with tons of enticing potential, and he was on the Seahawks roster earlier this season, but if they liked Brown that much they wouldn’t have signed Harris two weeks ago.

One intriguing (if controversial) name who could be a great fit is former Raven Ray Rice. Still only 28, Rice flourished in a zone-blocking system in Baltimore very similar to what Tom Cable employs in Seattle. He has fresh legs and is determined to prove he’s still a capable player. The problems are many, however, not the least of which is the league has apparently blackballed him after his domestic violence case. He hasn’t had as much as a single tryout since being suspended by the NFL and released by the Ravens. There are guys in the league who have done worse, been less contrite, and don’t have Rice’s talent, but it appears his football career is finished. Would the Seahawks be willing to take a chance? Would it work? Fascinating questions both, but ones that we will likely never get the answers to.

Next: Seahawks win game, lose Thomas Rawls

In all likelihood the team will stay the course and wait for Lynch to return to health. To their advantage, they come home for two games at CenturyLink against the lowly Browns and Rams, and Russell Wilson has the offense operating at an all time high. They may be able to win the next two weeks without much of a contribution from their running backs, lock up a wild card playoff spot, and then look forward to the return of a healthy Marshawn Lynch just in time for a January run. In the meantime, look for them to bring back someone like Brown, or possibly elevate Cottum for added depth.