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New Era For Seahawks? Injury Forces Lynch Out And Rawls In

John Froschauer
AP Photo
Seahawks running back Thomas Rawls (34) drops the ball after scoring a touchdown against the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday, Nov. 22, 2015, in Seattle.

With Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch recovering from sports hernia surgery, rookie Thomas Rawls will start this Sunday when the Seahawks host the Steelers. Rawls ran for 209 yards last Sunday, the second-most yards in a single game in Seahawks history.

KPLU sports commentator Art Thiel talks about Lynch, Rawls and what may be the beginning of a new era.

The End For Beast Mode?

Thiel said it's tough to predict what this means for Lynch's future.

"It's hard to know how it's going to play exactly. The Seahawks seem to think that he is out for at least four to five weeks, which means probably the end of the regular season.

"The Seahawks need to make the playoffs if they're going to see Marshawn. But, then again, I'm thinking is he going to be ready to be Marshawn Lynch with that kind of a layoff?

"I think the chances of him returning this season are slim. Then comes the big question: what about his future? No one can say anything about that right now," he said.

One More Year Not Guaranteed

"He's got another year on his contract, although the Seahawks can cut him and won't have to pay him the $12 million he's owed for that season," Thiel said.

"The upshot is that there's a new guy in town and it may be the answer to the Seahawks fans' question: what is the post-Marshawn Lynch going to look like for the Seahawks?

"It appears, so far, in good hands."

Enter The Rookie

Thomas Rawls was born and raised in Flint, Michigan. He has said about his hometown: "It's a hard place and you've got to be uncommon to get out of there."

According to Thiel, "He is an uncommon dude."

Rawls wasn't satisfied with the playing time he was getting at the University of Michigan and transferred to Central Michigan University.

"He was very well known among the scouts but we went undrafted through all seven rounds this spring," Thiel said.

"What happened then, according to Pete Carroll, is that Carroll got on the phone immediately with Rawls and started pitching him about coming to the Seahawks.

"Pete told him, 'I've watched you on film. You are my favorite.' Rawls had to be flattered by that," Thiel said.

"He knew of the Seahawks and he also understood the role that rushing has with Marshawn Lynch and he said, 'I'll go with you.'"

'Fearless And Fearsome'

"He was so impressive right away in rookie camp, then training camp and then preseason; the Seahawks felt comfortable enough to let go Robert Turbin, a very reliable backup for four years here, plus Christine Michael, a guy who was a second-round draft choice; because they knew they had something special.

"Now the world is seeing what's special about this guy," Thiel said.

"He not only is a good runner. He's fearless and he's fearsome. And that's really an intimidating factor that you don't often see a team add in the middle of the season."

Change His Game?

Thiel said, this weekend, Rawls is going to play against a defense that's ranked 27th in the league.

"I think he's going to have a lot of room to run. The issue, I think, with Rawls may be how hard he does run.

"A subtle virtue of Marshawn Lynch was that, even though we remember him for the Beast Quake run and pushing the pile forward, he is very elusive. He dodges tacklers. He doesn't take all of them on because of the wear and tear on his body.

"Thomas Rawls is going to have to learn to avoid hitting these guys, simply because he's got to last. I don't know how the coaches tell him to throttle back because he's full-bore every play," Thiel said.

"We'll see how that plays out. It's going to be one of the most dramatic stories of the Seahawks' second half."


You can find Art Thiel's work at Sportspress Northwest and

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