Seahawks notebook: Teammates explain how Lynch’s return is a boost
The Seahawks are gearing up for their final game of the regular season: A prime time matchup with the San Francisco 49ers for the NFC West crown.
While the game is of utmost importance to Seattle and San Francisco, the talk leading up to the game has been the Seahawks’ running backs.
Seattle’s top three running backs have all suffered season-ending injuries over the last three weeks, which left rookie sixth-round pick Travis Homer as the lone healthy halfback. To add depth, and a spark, the Seahawks brought back their top-two running backs from their Super Bowl-winning 2013 season: Former All-Pro and Seattle legend Marshawn Lynch and his old backup, Robert Turbin.
The signings have been a big boost to the team’s morale. A few players talked about the two running backs, as well as their status for Sunday, at team headquarters on Thursday.
“I was just super excited to have Marshawn back, ‘Beast Mode,’ it’s great,” quarterback Russell Wilson said at his press conference. “To have Turbin back, too, both of those guys are championship running backs who know what they’re doing and how to do it, so it’s been great. They both know the stuff so well.”
Lynch retired from the league after the 2015 season before returning in 2017 to play for his hometown Oakland Raiders. He played in 15 games in 2017 and had 891 rushing yards and seven touchdowns. He played just six games last season for Oakland before suffering a groin injury that ended his season.
Lynch never retired and actually visited the team a few weeks ago. Now, needing running back depth, he’s back for a potential Super Bowl run.
“Knowing Marshawn, he’s a winner,” Wilson said when asked why Lynch would return to Seattle over the other 31 NFL teams. “He wants to try to win. … He’s focused and he’s dialed-in and he’s ready to roll.”
Turbin was Lynch’s backup for four seasons and was in the same 2012 draft class as Wilson and linebacker Bobby Wagner. He played in 10 games in 2015 for two teams before landing in Indianapolis from 2016 to 2018, but was released after appearing in two games for the Colts last season.
Wilson is excited to have Turbin back, as the two are very close.
“Turbin and I are best friends. He was in my wedding. He’s a guy who I’ve been super close to since day one,” Wilson said.
Wilson said the two grew close at the 2012 NFL Rookie Symposium where the two were roommates. They’ve been great friends ever since.
“We’ve always supported each other and been together even when we were apart,” he said.
Wilson said the two are ready to go for Sunday and that Lynch is going to give everything he has for the Seahawks come Sunday. He thinks the two should be able to carry most of the carries.
“They look ready to go the whole game,” Wilson said. “I know Turbin has been training every single day (for this moment) … and sure enough it came Week 17. And I think with Marshawn, he’s got it. He just knows how to do it; he’s been doing it for years.”
Turbin told reporters that it’s a dream come true for him to return to Seattle after four years away.
“It’s almost like getting drafted all over again,” he said. “This is the place I wanted to be if I had my choice.”
Turbin said he’s been training in the “longest offseason” he’s had in his professional career near his home in California. Each day, Turbin does physical therapy before working out with a quarterback on blocking and running and receiving. Since it didn’t look like he was going to play this year, he had chances to cut back his workouts. He and his trainers decided not to.
“We just kept at it and I’m glad we did,” Turbin said.
When Turbin and Lynch were last in Seattle, Darrell Bevell was the offensive coordinator. Now, it’s Brian Schottenheimer. Despite that, the offense is fairly similar.
Another thing that’s similar is playing in big-time games.
“Fortunately for us we’ve been in these spots before,” Turbin said. “We’ve been in these games before. Really the hardest thing is just picking up on our assignments and what we’re supposed to do. Luckily with that, Marshawn and I have some familiarity with the offense, so we’re able to get some things quickly … come Sunday we’ll be prepared.”
After second-string running back Rashaad Penny tore his ACL in Week 14, Turbin worked out for the team but was not signed. He said the workout went well and he had packed a bag of clothes and other essentials because he didn’t plan on going back to California. When he didn’t get the contract he returned south, but he kept the bag in his car, untouched, because he had a feeling he was going back to Seattle.
“And then the next week came and here I am,” Turbin said.
Turbin said he and Lynch are ready for Sunday.
“We picked a heck of a week to come back with the NFC West championship on the line for the team, but I couldn’t think of a better opportunity,” Turbin said. “I mean, why not?”
Chris Carson, C.J. Prosise and Rashaad Penny aren’t the only Seahawks who are injured, as many on the defensive side have battled injuries the second half of the year. One of those players is defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, who is battling a core injury that will likely require surgery after the season.
Clowney is a free agent after this year but wants to fight through the injury.
“I’ve always said if I can finish, always finish,” he said. “I’m just trying to be out there as much as possible.”
Clowney said other players are making sacrifices by playing hurt, and he has to give just as much as his teammates.
“I’ve walked around the building and seen what they do, other guys on the team do for the team, and I’d be selfish (to sit out if I can play),” Clowney said.
The last time these two teams squared off in Week 10, Clowney recorded a sack, forced fumble, five quarterback hits and a fumble recovery that he returned for a touchdown. He won NFC Defensive Player of the Week honors for his play. Week 10 is also when Clowney suffered his injury.
Something felt slightly off during the game, but thanks to adrenaline, Clowney was able to play the whole game. When the Seahawks players were walking to the plane to head home after the game, Clowney said he could barely move his leg.
He’s missed three games since Week 12, but he made it clear he’ll be out there come Sunday.
“There’s no way I’m not (playing). I’m playing,” he said.
Clowney is not only excited about the game, but to be teammates with Lynch. His signing is a big deal for Clowney and the rest of the team.
“I’ve always been a fan of his and just to see him around here, it makes me want to sit back and watch (him) and see what he can do,” Clowney said.
“He’s a legend right now to everybody and he’s had some of the craziest runs ever. You just want to watch and see how he approaches his days.”
Clowney said he was sad to see Carson get hurt, but is happy that Lynch is now a Seahawk again.
“I always wanted to be on this team and see what he can do out there and get to watch him,” Clowney said. “So, I’m ready to see him work this week.”
Clowney said Lynch’s hard-running style no matter the situation is what makes him such a big fan of Lynch.
“You give him the ball and just everybody’s eyes are glued in,” Clowney said. “Like what’s going to happen? What’s he going to do? You never know. It’s a highlight reel just waiting to happen, and everybody knows that. You’re just waiting to see it.”
Some are wondering how Lynch will perform against a top defense after being away from football for over 400 days. Clowney said he expects Lynch to perform well.
“I’ve been watching him at practice and he looks good,” Clowney said. “I’m not too worried. If he couldn’t do it, they wouldn’t have signed him. I think he’s ready.”
As well as bolstering depth at running back, it provides a morale boost, especially after a tough loss to the Arizona Cardinals last Sunday. Now, the team is ready for what’s ahead.
“I think everybody is getting ready to go to war,” Clowney said. “The playoffs get a little different. It’s a playoff game for us. … We know that and we know what’s at stake and we’re practicing like we know what’s at stake and we’ve got to just keep preparing well and stay on top of our game this week.”
More Seahawks coverage
• Lynch’s return a benefit for Hawks regardless of his performance
• The 3 Questions: How much will Lynch impact Seahawks?
• Welcome back, Marshawn: A montage to get ready for his return
• Wyman’s Football 101: Telling the story of Seahawks’ D this year
• Clayton: Seahawks have more problems than just running back