Although general manager John Schneider told Around The NFL at the NFL Scouting Combine on Wednesday that the organization intends to bring in as much competition as possible, coach Pete Carroll stressed Thursday that Rawls is the heavy favorite to replace the recently retired Marshawn Lynch.
Asked if Rawls will step right into Lynch's role, Carroll responded, "Well, Thomas is going to get a great shot at it. He did everything he could his rookie season to make a statement that he belongs. We love the style, he's a great kid.
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"I can't imagine that he's not going to be right in the middle of it. I don't know who else is going to be added to the team, but he's coming in as the guy that we're looking to him to give the ball to."
Carroll noted Rawls is recovering "really well" from his mid-December ankle fracture and is expected to be ready for the start of training camp in late July.
Schneider echoed those thoughts, but remains reluctant to anoint Lynch's successor until Rawls shows that he's fully recovered this summer.
"He definitely has the talent to do it," Schneider said. "But we're going to get a couple of people in there to compete with him. He's recovering from a significant injury as well. He's a fun kid and a real talented guy. I just can't tell you that right now. I'll go to Vegas, I guess, if I could tell you that."
Rawls' injury didn't require surgery. He has been pain free since January. Barring a setback, he can be expected to lead a Seahawks ground attack that won't skip a beat minus one of the most iconic players in franchise history.
Rawls' 5.6 yard-per-carry average was tops in the NFL among backs with at least 100 attempts last season. He cleared the 100-yard mark in four of seven starts compared to just one of seven for Lynch. Rawls also made NFL history as the first player with 250-plus yards from scrimmage, a rushing touchdown and a receiving touchdown in the same game.
With Lynch out of the picture, the future starts now.