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Seahawks Pete Carroll, Marshawn Lynch
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Seahawks’ Pete Carroll explains how Marshawn Lynch returned to Seattle

Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll is thrilled to have RB Marshawn Lynch back for a playoff run. (Getty)

In case you missed it, Seahawks legend Marshawn Lynch is back in a Seahawks uniform just in time for the team’s NFC West championship game on Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers.

Seahawks notebook: Teammates explain how Lynch’s return is a boost

Seattle has lost their three top running backs for the rest of the season to injuries over the last three weeks, so the Seahawks turned to Lynch and his backup Robert Turbin, who were the team’s top running backs when they went to back-to-back Super Bowls a few years ago.

The 2015 season was a tough one for Lynch, who battled injuries and wasn’t his usual, productive self. Ahead of the first round of the playoffs, Lynch had practiced leading up to the game, but did not get on the team’s bus for the game. During that year’s Super Bowl, he tweeted a picture of cleats hanging from a power wire, signaling his intent to retire.

Lynch sat out 2016 but returned in 2017 to play for his hometown Oakland Raiders. He played six games for Oakland last year before suffering a season-ending groin injury.

Despite a rough split after the 2015 season, Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said a reunion was never out of the question, and that it’s not surprising the 33-year-old Lynch is back, even though there are a lot of other running backs who are available.

“Really it had been a situation where (general manager John Schneider) had been monitoring as he does every position for what could happen and what could come up,” Carroll told KIRO 97.3 FM’s Dori Monson on the weekly Pete Carroll Show. “In this case, there had been come conversations in the weeks before, as a matter of fact, even before the season started, that Marshawn might be interested in coming back and playing, but that was just conversation. But John has those conversations with every position with guys all over the league.”

Carroll is someone who talks frequently about the relationships he builds with his players. That had a big role in bringing Lynch back.

“These guys go through a lot of stuff … there’s a lot happening in their lives and they’re not always maybe representing what is really at their soul,” Carroll said. “They’re trying to figure it out … and I kind of go to who I think they really are at the very basics of the person and I’m going to find what I love about that guy and I’m going to hold onto that and I’m not going to let him change my mind on that.”

After the Seahawks lost second-string running back Rashaad Penny in Week 14, Carroll said it looked more likely that Lynch may return for a second stint in Seattle. Lynch visited the team shortly after, but it was reported he was just visiting friends who were still on the team.

“So John kept this under his hat for a while and then all of a sudden we had the fallout of a couple of guys and we were really in need, so it worked out well that he was preparing for it,” Carroll said. “His mind was right about it, he was already mentally competing to get ready and all that, so he jumped in here and he had a really good week of practice.”

Carroll and Schneider looked at all available running backs, including players on other teams’ practice squads, but ultimately decided to bring Lynch and Turbin back.

“John and I had to figure out here’s our choices, what do we want to do, how would this work out and we just worked our way through it in pretty normal fashion. There’s no mystery here,” Carroll said. “But it is a big body of names that you work from and we happened to have a guy who’s got history (with us), he’s got a special nature about him.”

Lynch worked out and had his physical on Monday, and the signing was made official on Tuesday.

“We’ve always admired his style of play and really thought it was (a big part) of our team for years, so it was great to have a chance to think it through and then when he comes out here and works out well and does well with his physical and gets through the conversations and all that, he’s ready to go with a really good attitude about helping the Seahawks, so it came together,” Carroll said.

Carroll said Lynch has changed over the years since he left Seattle, but their one-on-one conversation was impactful for both of them.

“It was great to get back sitting across from each other talking about something that is really dear to our hearts, and that’s this game and this team and this organization and accomplishing great things,” Carroll told Monson. “Everything that might have been talked about otherwise with other instances and things that have gone on over the years or whatever didn’t come up. He told me what he had been through since he left and the experiences that he had and that he appreciated the time that he spent here in ways that he couldn’t measure back then, and I talked about what I felt about the same thing.”

The team has accomplished a lot this season without Lynch, as the Seahawks are 11-4 and still have a shot at a first-round playoff bye depending how the Green Bay Packers do Sunday morning. Carroll said Lynch has been the center of attention this week, which makes sense, but that Lynch has joined a unique team.

“Every question has been about 24 and fittingly so, but there’s been a lot of other stuff going on here which we’re really proud of, and he is pleased and kind of grateful to be part of it,” Carroll said. “I say that and it’s maybe remarkable to some other people, but he really cares, and he would like us to do something very special and we’d like to see if he can contribute to that. That’s all I needed to hear and off we go, we’re going to give it a shot.”

In addition to adding a spark to a team that needed one coming off an ugly loss with key injuries to running backs Chris Carson and C.J. Prosise, it’s clear fans of the team are excited about Lynch’s return.

“That’s good because both those guys coming in – Marshawn and Robert Turbin – are both guys that are very meaningful to our program and have been from their past in all of the time that they spent with us,” Carroll said. “We’ve worked hard during this week. It’s looked good. It looked a little bit like yesteryear in the running game and with the spark plug that Travis Homer brings, we’ve got a chance to keep this thing on a really high level, so we’re going for it and (are) looking forward to really good things.”

Listen to the show at this link at the 21:32 mark.

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