RENTON — Pete Carroll had pined for a running back like Marshawn Lynch since his days as head coach at USC.
Back then, Lynch was a high school standout at Oakland Tech. Carroll and his coaches put on the full-court press for Lynch, but he stayed close to home and attended Cal.
However, once Carroll got the job as head coach of the Seattle Seahawks, he was back on the recruiting trail again, constantly harassing general manager John Schneider to make a deal with Buffalo to get Lynch in the fold.
“There were a number of times where John would look at me and say, ‘I just called him last week’ and I’d say, ‘Just try again,’ ” Carroll said.
Carroll’s persistence paid off when Schneider brokered a midseason trade in October 2010 with Buffalo – with Seattle giving up a fourth-round pick in the 2011 draft and a fifth-rounder in 2012 – to acquire Lynch’s services.
The Bills were more than willing to make the trade because the team drafted explosive playmaker C.J. Spiller in the first round of the 2010 draft and also had a productive runner in Fred Jackson, and Lynch had his share of off-the-field issues.
The Seahawks have been more than happy with their end of the bargain. In 21/2 seasons and 40 games with Seattle, Lynch has rushed for over 3,000 yards (3,043) yards and 27 touchdowns, giving Carroll the workhorse running back he desired.
“I don’t know if anything is more symbolic than what we’ve done with Marshawn and him playing the way he’s played, and him being the guys he is,” Carroll said. “I think he really is the key element to putting this thing together.”
On Sunday, Lynch will face his former team for the first time since he was traded to Seattle. However, Lynch declined to comment when asked to reminisce about his time in the Northeast.
“I’m good, boss,” Lynch said.
Once again, Lynch let others do the talking for him.
“He’s not shy,” joked Seattle defensive tackle Brandon Mebane, who played with Lynch at Cal. “If he acts shy, he’s frontin’ – it’s a front. He ain’t shy at all.”
But one thing that Mebane learned from his days of trying to bring Lynch down in practice during their time in college – Lynch is hard to tackle.
“He’s always been an explosive back – that’s who he is,” Mebane said. “Seeing him run now and do his thing, it doesn’t surprise me. It’s like a rerun, just a different number.”
Fullback Michael Robinson pointed to Lynch’s bow-legged gait as the reason for his running prowess.
“He’s not pigeon-toed, but he’s bow-legged a little bit,” Robinson said. “And guys that are bow-legged seem to have better balance as they’re cutting – their cuts are a lot sharper.”
“He looks like a little pit bull out there running,” Robinson said. “He’s always balanced. He runs bigger than he looks. And he runs faster than he looks, too.”
But it’s Lynch’s relentless effort that’s infectious for the rest of the team.
“It makes us play harder, knowing he’s going to break a couple tackles on a run,” Seattle center Max Unger said. “If we can get up there and get some people off of him, he’s going to go for extra yards.”
Whether Lynch will have extra motivation facing his old team is unknown, but Robinson is expecting the same, all-out effort from his backfield mate.
“That’s just the type of guy he is,” Robinson said. “And you need guys like that on your team. You don’t want guys thinking too much.
“Who’s next, let’s go play and move on.”
RICE ON THE MEND
Receiver Sidney Rice did not practice on Wednesday, watching from the sideline in a walking boot to protect a bruised foot.
Carroll said that Rice has had an issue with his toe all season, and he will wear a boot this week to try to help the injury heal.
However, Carroll said there’s a chance that Rice will not be available for Sunday’s game. If that’s the case, Charly Martin would step in to fill the vacant spot in the starting lineup, although the rotation would change depending on the situation.
“He’s improved quite a bit since game day the last couple days, but he’s got a pretty sore foot,” Carroll said. “He got X-rays and MRIs and all of that, and we didn’t find anything that would keep him from playing. He just has to get back.”
Rice has been dinged up this season, with head, calf and knee injuries. But he hasn’t missed a game all season, and is on pace to play in a full, 16-game season for the first time since 2009.
Along with Rice, cornerback Marcus Trufant (hamstring), safety Kam Chancellor (groin) and defensive end Red Bryant (foot) did not practice on Wednesday.
Lynch (back) and cornerback Walter Thurmond (hamstring) were limited in practice.
Carroll said John Moffitt and J.R. Sweezy will keep splitting time at right guard.
WOLF GREY JERSEYS
The Seahawks announced that the players will wear their third alternate look, their Wolf Grey jerseys, for the first time this season when they take on Buffalo in Toronto.
It’s the first time Seattle has worn an alternate jersey since the Seahawks wore rave green jerseys at home against Chicago on Sept. 27, 2009.
“There was only one chance that we could do it, so we picked this game out a long time ago,” Carroll said.
Seattle was the only NFL team that agreed to a total redesign of the Seahawks’ uniforms when Nike took over as the league’s designer of uniforms this season.Eric D. Williams: 253-597-8437 eric.williams@ thenewstribune.com blog.thenewstribune.com/seahawks @eric_d_williams