It's time again for Eddie Lacy and Thomas Rawls in Seattle's backfield with Chris Carson placed on Injured Reserve.
If the common perception the first four weeks of the season was that the Seahawks had something of a possibly untenable logjam at running back, the team viewed it as just doing their job in attempting to account for the realities of the sport that all too unfortunately and inevitably surface.
The downside of football stared the Seahawks right in the face in the fourth quarter Sunday night as rookie Chris Carson was carted off the field of a 46-18 win over the Colts with injuries to his left ankle and his leg.
Monday, the team reported that Carson — the team’s leading rusher with 208 yards on 30 carries — will have surgery on Tuesday to repair a high ankle sprain and that he also has a broken bone in his leg that is expected to heal on its own.
The rookie will be out for an extended period — he was placed on Injured Reserve and per NFL rules can’t return for at least eight weeks. Carroll said there’s “an outside chance’’ that Carson could play again this year.
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But with Carson out for at least two months, the tailback position falls again into the hands of veterans Thomas Rawls and Eddie Lacy.
Each took a back seat the first month with the emergence of Carson, with each declared a healthy inactive once — an occurrence that no one would have envisioned in the spring when all the talk was about which of the two would be the team’s starter and how the Seahawks would split up their playing time and carries.
Instead, entering Sunday’s game the two had combined for just nine yards on 10 carries, leading some to wonder if either had much of a future with the organization.
“It’s looked like we had a number of guys there at the running back spot and we were trying to decide how we were going to handle this,’’ Carroll said.
The Seahawks, though, were more concerned about making sure they had enough players at tailback to navigate a 16-game season in the wake of a rugged 2016 campaign in which injuries meant Seattle had to use 18 different ballcarriers, the most of any NFL team since the 1987 strike year.
And now with Carson out, the Seahawks are — to use Carroll’s word — fortunate to have Lacy and Rawls around.
“It was uncomfortable to not have Eddie up (for the 49ers game),’’ Carroll said. “Or to not have Thomas up. Because those guys are ballers and they need to be playing. But here it is, and now they will be going side by side and battling.’’
Who starts is unclear, and to the Seahawks probably less important than the fact that both will have to play.
Carroll had insisted that Lacy had handled being inactive two weeks ago for the first time in his career when healthy the way the team had hoped, and that seemed to be born out in the way he played Sunday.
Lacy rushed for a team-high 52 yards on 11 carries against the Colts, including runs of 11 and three yards to start the series on which Carson was hurt.
After Carson was injured with 6:37 left, Lacy then carried the ball on four of the next five plays, gaining another 29 yards including one run of 19, as the Seahawks marched for a final touchdown. The carries against the Colts were the first for Lacy since the season opener when he had just three yards on five carries against Green Bay.
“I really liked the way that Eddie played yesterday,’’ Carroll said of Lacy, who was signed as a free agent in March after four years in Green Bay. “I thought he looked great, maxed out his opportunities and looks like it’s going to be a real nice fit for us. We are excited about that.”
If Lacy might have been surprised to be inactive when healthy for the first time in his career two weeks ago it was Rawls who may have been caught off-guard when dealt that fate Sunday.
Rawls entered the season as the presumptive starter but then suffered a high ankle sprain in the first exhibition game that held him out the rest of the preseason and the first regular season game. After he returned in week two to gain four yards on five carries against the 49ers he played just one snap against the Titans in week three and was inactive Sunday.
“He’s handling it admirably,’’ Carroll said of Rawls. “But he’s frustrated because he wants to play. Like I tell you always, I wouldn’t want it any other way. He wants to go.’’
The Seahawks also may have C.J. Prosise back as Carroll said he had a good pregame workout after being declared inactive with an ankle issue and appears on track to play Sunday against the Rams.
The team also found out Sunday the impact that J.D. McKissic can make as both a running back and a receiver.
But Prosise and McKissic each appear best suited for a third-down, two-minute back type role.
For the heavy lifting of the tough, between-the-tackles running on which the Seattle offense depends and so often has thrived under Carroll, the Seahawks will now have to depend on the two players who 48 hours ago may have seemed the past but now suddenly are again the future — Lacy and Rawls.
“Right now, we are so fortunate that Chris has to sit out for a while, that Thomas Rawls gets to step up,’’ Carroll said. “That is just good fortune and it’s good planning and all of that. Thomas is really raring to go and we are excited to get him to play.’’