Seattle Seahawks running back Thomas Rawls won't play Sunday afternoon when his team opens the regular season with a visit to Lambeau Field to face the Green Bay Packers, the Seahawks announced Sunday.
Rawls was considered a game-time decision because of a high ankle sprain suffered in mid-August. He missed each of the Seahawks' final three preseason contests but returned for three full practices leading up to Sunday's clash with the Packers.
On Wednesday, Seattle head coach Pete Carroll said the 24-year-old Central Michigan product was close to being available.
"It's been a lingering high ankle that hasn't quite subsided yet," Carroll told reporters. "He's really close—he practiced Monday—and we're trying to get him back, and we'll see how it goes."
The ankle problem was an ill-timed setback.
Rawls, who's had numerous injuries across two seasons with the Seahawks, is set to battle former Packers starter Eddie Lacy for placement atop Seattle's backfield depth chart. Staying on the field will be a crucial component of that competition.
In June, the Flint, Michigan, native stuck an optimistic tone with Aron Yohannes of the team's official website.
"I feel even better," Rawls said. "I actually get an offseason. I just remember coming off those injuries and everything, it was kind of tough. You also learn from being a professional and in a way, it kind of humbles you in a lot of different ways. I've been having a great offseason, and I've been feeling way better moving a lot, taking no days off and getting back to the grind.
"I've been feeling so good, strong, feeling real balanced being able to be decisive and getting in and out of cuts and everything like that. I worked on my hands this whole offseason. I'm looking forward to a great year, a great season for this whole football team and just playing my part and being beneficial to the team."
Alas, Rawls didn't make it through training camp and the preseason before suffering another injury setback. It shouldn't be a long-term absence since he came close to playing this week, but it's still a step in the wrong direction.
Lacy is in line to receive a lion's share of the playing time in the projected starter's absence. He could receive upward of 20 touches against Green Bay, and C.J. Prosise should slide into the backup role.
Once he gets up to full speed, Rawls could still emerge as the No. 1 back. His injury history makes that far from a guarantee, though.