Marshawn Lynch isn’t coming back this week. Maybe not next week, either.
So it will be a combination of Christine Michael and Bryce Brown again as the Seahawks’ co-lead running backs on Sunday against St. Louis.
That’s what coach Pete Carroll said Monday, a day after Seattle (9-5) won its fifth consecutive game, 30-13 over Cleveland, to clinch a wild-card playoff berth.
Carroll said Lynch is working out with “his people” down in his native Bay Area and it “sounds like he's making good progress” since abdominal surgery in Philadelphia Nov. 25. But the coach said he and the Seahawks still don’t know when the NFL’s leading rusher from 2011 until this injury-plagued season might play again.
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Seattle plays at Arizona Jan. 3 to end the regular season then will open the playoffs on the road Jan. 9 or 10.
Michael gained a career-high 84 yards on 16, determined carries Sunday against the Browns. Seattle’s second-round draft choice in 2013 re-signed with the Seahawks on Wednesday, after Thomas Rawls -- Lynch’s remarkable rookie replacement -- broke his ankle and torn ligaments during the win at Baltimore Dec. 13. Michael ran harder and with more purpose than he ever did for two, frustrating season and this past summer’s preseason, before the Seahawks gave up on him and traded him to Dallas.
Michael said following Sunday’s win he realizes the opportunity he now has with Lynch out indefinitely. And it may be his last one in the NFL.
Carroll said he could see that in Michael’s running against Cleveland.
“He cherishes this opportunity more than he ever has,” Carroll said.
But he won’t committ to Michael as the new lead back. He mentioned the complimentary styles the quick-footed Michael has with Brown, more of a “downhill” runner, to use Carroll’s description.
Brown said he was nervous and anxious before Sunday’s game, his first in a real game in a year since Buffalo in the preseason and then Seattle in November released him. Brown finished with 43 yards on nine carries.
▪ Carroll said strong safety Kam Chancellor’s bruised tailbone felt much better Monday. The coach won’t know until late this week whether Chancellor or Kelcie McCray, who tackled well while starting for the first time in his career against the Browns, will play Sunday against St. Louis.
▪ Carroll said LT Russell Okung has a very sore calf but tests revealed no major structural damage. It’s too early to know if he or Alvin Bailey will start against the Rams.