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Salk: An improved run game makes facing Marshawn Lynch easier for Seahawks fans

Marshawn Lynch spoke to old Seahawks teammates before an Aug. 30 preseason game. (AP)

The Seahawks will play their first game in London this Sunday for a Week 6 contest against the Oakland Raiders. The meeting brings a reunion – the second this season, and first in the regular season – for Seattle and former Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch.

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A beloved figure in Seattle sports history, Lynch was a key member of the Seahawks’ back-to-back Super Bowl teams. To this day, he remains the most recent Seahawks running back to rush for 1,000 or more yards in a single season (2014).

“I bugged John (Schneider) for months and months about trying to keep making those phone calls,” Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said of the trade that landed Lynch in Seattle in 2010.

“When he got here, he got a fresh start. Man, he took the opportunity and went with it and fit in – exactly the way I’m talking now, I should’ve been talking then because I felt the same way about it, the need for a guy to bring the attitude and the intensity and the focus and the toughness and he was all of that. As all of our guys did, they grew up in our program and they matured and they went through a lot of experiences and there was a lot of big things that happened in terms of championships and challenges and contracts and a lot of our guys got married and had kids and all kinds of stuff happened, not necessarily with Marshawn, but he grew a lot with us and so we just went through a lot together. I have tremendous respect for that guy and it’ll be fun playing against him. I like playing against guys I like.”

The reunion is a fond one for Seahawks veterans who played with Lynch from 2010-2015. Among them is wide receiver Doug Baldwin, who shared this story with ESPN’s Brady Henderson:

710 ESPN Seattle’s Mike Salk listed himself among the media members who have enjoyed covering Lynch’s career — though he said it’s easier to stomach his success in Oakland now that Seattle has established their own starting running back in Chris Carson.

Seattle’s success in the run game dwindled in the years following Lynch’s departure. After Lynch was injured in 2015, then-rookie running back Thomas Rawls led the charge. Rawls put together an impressive debut, accruing 830 yards through 13 games, before a broken ankle landed him on the injured reserve. Rawls was unable to replicate the success of his first season — and the Seahawks were unable to replicate the production Lynch provided in years’ prior. The team had just 469 yards from their leading rusher (Christine Michael) in 2016, and 240 from their leading rusher (Mike Davis) in 2017.

“I’m really, really happy that Chris Carson and the running game have emerged over the past three weeks,” Salk said. “I’m glad that the Seahawks are running the ball and running it well, because I did not want to just see Marshawn running wild this upcoming week when the Seahawks team is inept.”

After struggling to establish the run over the first two weeks of the season, Seattle drastically increased running back carries against the Cowboys, Cardinals and Rams. The team has seen 100-plus yard rushers in each of those three contests (twice by Carson, and once by Davis).

“Look, I miss Marshawn. I’ll just admit it straight up,” Salk continued. “I’m not saying he should be here, but I can still miss him. I can miss watching him every Sunday and I can miss the fact that he’s such an interesting figure that we would do a day a week just talking about Marshawn on this radio show… he provided personality and he also gave this team respect around the league. There’s no doubt. Marshawn commands respect in a unique way, and along with Kam Chancellor, I just think he gave this team its edge and its physical presence that certainly has been missing last year and into this year. I think they’re getting some of that back offensively.”

The Seahawks will face the Raiders at Wembley Stadium in London on Sunday, Oct. 14.

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