Seahawks’ Marshawn Lynch listed as probable, expected to play vs. Carolina
— Brady Henderson (@BradyHenderson) January 15, 2016
RENTON – After a full week of practice, an assertion that he’s ready to play and a probable designation, all that was left for Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch was to board the team bus.
Once he did, any remaining doubt about his availability for Sunday’s divisional-round playoff game against Carolina was all but eliminated.
“Bags are packed,” coach Pete Carroll said following Friday’s practice, having some fun with the last-minute change in Lynch’s status a week earlier when he informed the team as the buses were being boarded that he didn’t feel like he could play against Minnesota.
So will he Sunday?
“There’s a really good chance,” Carroll said with a smile.
While assumptions can be dangerous with Lynch, all indications this week have been that he’s on track to play Sunday for the first time in more than two months. Lynch’s last game was Seattle’s home loss to Arizona on Nov. 15, which was 10 days before he underwent abdominal surgery for an injury similar to a sports hernia.
Lynch is listed as probable after practicing without limitation all three days this week. Carroll has cautioned at every turn that Lynch is day-to-day, perhaps wary of assuming anything with regards to his status given the way he was also a full participant all last week only to determine following Friday’s workout that he couldn’t play.
But Carroll said Lynch is ahead of where he was then.
“He had a great week. He really did,” Carroll said. “He was faster and more explosive than last week. You can see that he made an improvement.”
Carroll has said this week that one of the determining factors in Lynch’s readiness is the confidence he has in himself following the first major injury of his career. Has he regained it?
“I don’t think there’s any question,” Carroll said.
Lynch seemed to indicate as much Thursday in a text message to ESPN’s Kenny Mayne that read “I’m ready” in reference to his health.
How exactly Lynch fits into Seattle’s game-plan against Carolina remains a question, especially considering how long he’s been sidelined and how much the Seahawks’ offense evolved since he last played. The Seahawks were 4-5 following that Nov. 15 loss to Arizona, which preceded a run of six victories in their final regular-season games.
Asked by an out-of-town reporter whether the Seahawks know what to expect from Lynch on Sunday, Carroll made light of Lynch’s sometimes erratic ways.
“Have you been around here very long with Marshawn and all that?” Carroll asked. “Not always do we know. He’s somewhat unpredictable in certain ways. But he’s really pumped to play football and play with his team. So I’m looking forward to him playing like he has in the past. We’ll make sure and watch and see how he’s doing and how much we can play him. We’ll figure that out as the game goes.”
Carroll didn’t declare which running back would start but indicated that Christine Michael will get a considerable amount of the work, saying, “We’re expecting him to be in and out of there regularly.”
Fullback Will Tukuafu is Seattle’s only player who isn’t expected to play, listed as doubtful due to a hamstring injury he sustained last week. Tight end Luke Willson will return after missing the last two games with a concussion. The only other player on Seattle’s injury report this week was defensive lineman Michael Bennett, who missed a practice due to his chronic toe issue but is expected to play.
That means the Seahawks are as healthy heading into Sunday’s game as they have been in some time.
“Pretty close, yeah. And how fortunate can we be?” Carroll said. “That’s an awesome sign for us. We’re excited. We’re loading up that plane and everybody’s going and we’re ready to go crank it up with all hands on deck.”