RENTON The Seahawks’ two biggest injury issues in their quest to reach the conference title game appear to be fixing themselves.
C.J. Prosise was back practicing for the first time since he broke his scapula on Nov. 20. It was the best sign yet the rookie third-round draft choice will play Saturday for the first time in nearly two months when Seattle goes to Atlanta in the NFC divisional playoffs.
And Marcel Reece’s foot injury is not as severe as the team first feared. The veteran, four-time Pro Bowl fullback with the Oakland Raiders practiced Tuesday and is on track to continue his recent, sparking play on Saturday.
“He’s practicing,” coach Pete Carroll said of Reece before Tuesday’s first full on-field day of preparation for the NFC South-champion Falcons. “So he’s in good shape. Bouncing back fairly quickly.”
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Reece’s availability has suddenly become important to Seattle.
After Russell Wilson took the final snap to end last weekend’s wild-card playoff win over Detroit, the quarterback turned to Reece behind him in the Seahawks and presented the nine-year veteran the ball.
“Most people probably didn’t catch it; it meant a lot to me,” Reece said Tuesday. “It was right on the field, we were in ‘victory offense’ and it was the last kneel down. And he said, ‘This one’s for you. First one.’
“It was a great experience. My first playoff appearance and my first playoff win.”
Where’s the ball going?
“My mom thought it was going to her, for her birthday (which was also on Saturday),” Reece said. “That one’s going in the man cave.”
The Seahawks went to more I formation with Reece, a former wide receiver at the University of Washington, ahead of tailback Thomas Rawls and more straight-ahead blocking against Detroit. Rawls often ran behind Reece for 161 yards, a Seattle playoff record. The Seahawks ran for 177 yards in all while beating the Lions 26-6. It was their second-highest rushing total this season. Reece played most of his snaps after getting his foot stomped on early in the game.
“I’m looking forward to keeping this run going,” Reece said, perhaps intending the pun.
“I’m ready, willing and able to do anything they want me to do.”
The Seahawks signed Reece on Dec. 6, three months after Oakland released him following nine seasons with the Raiders. The idea was Reece knew Seattle’s run game and blocking schemes from when Seahawks offensive line coach Tom Cable was Oakland’s line coach in 2007-08 and then Reece’s head coach with the Raiders from 2008-10.
Reece was an All-Pro in 2013 and made his Pro Bowls from 2012-15 as a versatile receiver and blocker. But, he said Tuesday, the Seahawks didn’t talk I formation or any schemes when they signed him.
Reece played 45 percent of Seattle’s 75 offensive snaps against Detroit. So about half the time he was a part of the night that revived the running game and thus the Seahawks’ inconsistent offense.
If they are to finally find consistency and run it again nearly as well Saturday at Atlanta, Reece figures to have a big role again.
And the Seahawks’ best chance to win is to run. Going three and out with three passes on offense would leave more time and opportunities for quarterback Matt Ryan and the Falcons’ offense. That’s a bad idea. Atlanta scored 540 points this regular season, tying the 2000 St. Louis Rams’ “Greatest Show on Turf” for seventh-most in league history.
Right on time, Seattle’s rushing offense could be more loaded than its been all season.
Thomas Rawls said following Saturday night’s win over Detroit he was feeling every one of his 27 carries.
But on Tuesday Carroll said of Rawls: “He looks great. He’s in, I think, exactly where he should be on a (normal) Wednesday prep day. So he’ll be fine.”
Prosise and Rawls have not played a complete game together. Prosise broke his wrist in the opening game Sept. 11 against Miami. Rawls cracked his fibula the following week at Los Angeles and did not return until late November. By then, Prosise had wowed with 153 yards combined rushing and receiving in the win Nov. 13 at New England. He had a 72-yard touchdown run early in the victory Nov. 20 over Philadelphia. Then the former wide receiver and Notre Dame broke his shoulder blade late in the first half of that game.
Prosise with Rawls and the reborn Reece would give Seattle a full, diverse backfield -- something it did not have Oct. 16 when the Seahawks beat the Falcons 26-24 at CenturyLink Field. Seattle rushed 27 times for just 72 yards that day, one of seven games this season when the Seahawks averaged fewer than 3 yards per carry.
“He’s going to work through the week. He was out there in the (morning) walk-through today and will get to practice today to see what he can do,” Carroll said of Prosise. “I really don’t have any forecast for you at this point. We need to get more information.
“He’s going to have to go full speed and let it rip. If he's holding back, he won't play.”
Given Carroll has now said that -- and this is the playoffs -- there’s little chance of Prosise holding back.
So expect him and Reece to join Rawls Saturday. And for the Seahawks to try to continue to see if their run is indeed for real.