The Seattle Seahawks sure are thankful on this holiday that Thomas Rawls has emerged. Because now they will be without Marshawn Lynch for the next month.
Coach Pete Carroll said Lynch had surgery Wednesday to repair an unspecified abdominal issue related to a sports hernia.
“I don’t know what the true definition of (the injury) was,” Carroll said. “But like that, yeah.”
The doctors are optimistic the Seahawks’ star running back may be able to return within a month.
Carroll spoke a couple hours after specialist Dr. William C. Meyers, a specialist on core-muscle injuries many consider to be the best in the country in his particular field, performed the procedure in Philadelphia.
“He’s going to stay back East for a number of days until it’s time to come back. We’ll see what happens when he returns,” Carroll said. “The doctor was very optimistic about a quick recovery, and that could mean within three or four weeks, or something like that. There’s a chance.”
It’s Lynch’s first extended time missed since Seattle traded for him six seasons ago. Before this season, Lynch had missed just one game.
The regular season ends in six weeks. Seattle (5-5) is trying to rally back to the playoffs that begin in seven weeks. The Seahawks are a game out of a spot in the postseason.
Lynch will miss the game Sunday against Pittsburgh, Dec. 6 at Minnesota, Dec. 13 at Baltimore and likely the Dec. 20 home game versus Cleveland. The Seahawks have two games in the regular season remaining after that, Dec. 27 versus St. Louis and Jan. 3 at Arizona.
For now, it will be the undrafted rookie Rawls leading Seattle’s NFL-best running game. And that’s worked out just fine for the Seahawks so far.
Lynch missed the win Sunday over San Francisco in which his backup romped for a Seahawks rookie-record 209 yards rushing. Rawls has two 100-yard games and that 200-yard rushing day while Lynch has been out with calf and hamstring injuries, nausea and now the abdominal issues the past two months.
“We’re losing a great player, there’s no doubt about it. It’s great to see what Thomas has done in the two opportunities that he’s had,” Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said following practice Wednesday. “It enables us to stay who we are, so we won’t have to make any drastic changes.
“We can still have our style and the way that we want to play ball. He’s given us the ability to do that.”
Carroll said that while there is also “a chance” Lynch will not be able to return for the regular season, Meyers and his staff have given the team all indications he can return before the end of December.
“The doctor projected that he could get back pretty quickly,” Carroll said. “So whatever they fixed, everything that was wrong, the doctor was very optimistic about his return.”
For this season, that is. What about 2016? And beyond?
Fred Jackson knows Lynch better than anyone in the NFL. He’s known him since Lynch was a rookie with the Buffalo Bills in 2007 and Jackson was a second-year running back sharing snaps with Lynch. For a time they were co-lead running backs in Buffalo, until the Seahawks traded for Lynch during the 2010 season.
Now that they are teammates again in Seattle, the 34-year-old Jackson says the 29-year-old Lynch is “like a little brother” to him.
Jackson was asked if he thought Lynch’s first surgery and extended time missed of his 10-year NFL career might make him more likely to walk away from the Seahawks and the sport after this season.
“I think when you get nine, 10 years in the league you start trying to figure out the plan after football, anyway,” Jackson said.
“But talking to him, I can’t tell you what he’s going to do after the surgery or not. I think that’s a decision he’s going to have to make, when it comes a time to make that.”
The contract extension Lynch signed in March through the 2017 season calls for him to earn a non-guaranteed $9 million in base pay next season. That’s a price the Seahawks will almost certainly seek to renegotiate down — if not shed.
Another Seahawks teammate and friend of Lynch’s, All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman, said he had talked to Lynch over the past couple of days.
“We’ve had numerous talks. He’s in good spirits,” Sherman said. “It happens. He obviously knows, playing this game, he’s gotten through nine years or so without having a surgery. So he’s kind of surprised by the way it went down. But he’s doing fantastic.
“He’ll come back like he never left.”
Lynch, a five-time Pro Bowl selection and 2012 All-Pro, first felt pain in his abdomen at the end of practice Nov. 12. He last played three days later against Arizona but carried the ball just eight times, and Carroll said Lynch felt worse by the end of that game.
“Surgery to repair the torn tissues in the groin can be done as a traditional, open procedure with one long incision, or as an endoscopic procedure,” the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons states. “In an endoscopy, the surgeon makes smaller skin incisions and uses a small camera, called an endoscope, to see inside the abdomen.
“The end results of traditional and endoscopic procedures are the same. ... Most athletes are able to return to sports six to 12 weeks after surgery.”
So coming back within a month could be optimistic.
“Well, I guess we could look at it that way,” the usually all-sunny Carroll said. “We’re missing him a little bit, too, though on the other side of it.
“You’re right. Let’s look for something good in this.”
Since late September, Lynch has missed three games plus all but one quarter of a fourth contest.
Lynch’s 417 yards rushing this season is almost 800 yards fewer than his lowest season total with the Seahawks.
Carroll reiterated that nickel DB Jeremy Lane will return to the secondary against Pittsburgh to make his season debut. The team has until Saturday at 1 p.m. to release a player from the 53-man roster to add Lane. He has been on the physically-unable-to-perform list after he broke his arm and tore a knee ligament in February’s Super Bowl. … LB Bruce Irvin (sprained knee ligament), WR Paul Richardson (strained hamstring), guard J.R. Sweezy (left shoulder), RT Garry Gilliam (ankle) and WR Doug Baldwin (ankle) did not practice. Carroll said he expects all to play Sunday except for Irvin and Richardson. … Rawls was limited in practice by a knee injury, which isn’t believed to be serious.
Gregg Bell: @gbellseattle