His health is especially important considering the Seahawks are expected to cut ties with running back Marshawn Lynch.

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RENTON — Seahawks running back Thomas Rawls expects to be ready for the start of next season.

Rawls spoke publicly for the first time since suffering a season-ending ankle injury in December that required surgery. Rawls said he was pain free and should be out of his cast in a few weeks.

His health is especially important considering the Seahawks are expected to cut ties with running back Marshawn Lynch. Coach Pete Carroll said he didn’t know if Lynch would be back, but it long has been thought the Seahawks will move on. Lynch also has contemplated retirement the past two seasons.

Lynch will be 30 next season, and he played in only eight games this year because of various injuries. The Seahawks would save $6.5 million in salary-cap space by releasing him.

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Lynch played in Sunday’s loss against the Panthers for the first time in two months, but had only six carries because they fell behind 31-0 early. When asked how Lynch fits in the program now, Carroll said the Seahawks will figure it out.

“It depends on how he comes back and how he works at it and all that kind of stuff,” Carroll said. “He had a difficult year physically. He’s never had to recover from an injury like that. He’s never had to deal with that kind of process. And he made it back, to his credit. He worked hard to get back and made it back to play. It just was a terrible opportunity for him to have a chance to have an impact on the game.”

Rawls, an undrafted free agent, made moving on from Lynch more plausible because of how he played as a rookie. He averaged 5.6 yards per carry. He rushed for 100 yards four times. And he finished 16th in the NFL in total rushing yards despite having fewer carries than anyone else in the top 30.

“Now we know what we have, so it will be even more (exciting),” Carroll said. “It will be great. He’s confident he’ll get it done. He’s got plenty of time. That should be a really interesting spot.”

If the Seahawks part with Lynch, Rawls would be the only running back on the roster. Running back Christine Michael, a former second-round draft pick, is a free agent, although Carroll said he would like to bring Michael back.

Rawls, for his part, said he is ready for the workload if he’s the team’s top running back next season.

“I think if you ask anybody that, anybody would say yes,” Rawls said. “I’ve got a lot of confidence, but I just go out there and work, man.”

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