With Marshawn Lynch, “questionable” is a relative term.
And not all that questionable, either.
The Seattle Seahawks (6-3) listed their bullish running back as questionable on Friday before they departed for Sunday’s game at Kansas City (6-3), where they will truly need the NFL’s fifth-leading rusher. The Chiefs have the league’s No. 1 pass defense but only the 20th-rated run-stopping unit. Kansas City is allowing 4.7 yards per rush.
Lynch missed practice Wednesday with what the team said was a calf injury and again on Thursday because of the calf issue and a new one — his ribs. But he fully participated Friday in the light, indoor practice at the Virginia Mason Athletic Center. Last week Lynch had the same work week — off Wednesday and Thursday before returning Friday. Then he romped on Sunday over the New York Giants with 140 yards and a career-best four rushing touchdowns.
Plus, for all the pounding he does while running inside every week and all the practices he has sat out Lynch has missed just one game in his five seasons with the Seahawks. That was in Oct. 23, 2011, when his lower back locked up during pregame warmups at Cleveland.
Asked if the Seahawks are simply maintaining Lynch’s health by limiting him in practices this week or if some new injuries have appeared, coach Pete Carroll said, “He’s just banged up.
“In years past we’ve always given him a lot of consideration to get him right. And he’s worked hard to make sure he stays (the) best way he can do,” Carroll said. “And he practiced well today.”
So it looks and sounds as if Lynch will be Seattle’s featured back for the 57th consecutive game Sunday.
Another Seahawk who rarely misses will be in the starting lineup with him, in another needed role against the Chiefs.
Kam Chancellor finished his first string of practices in three weeks and is probable to play Sunday. The strong safety and key to Seattle’s rush defense ranked fourth in the league has missed the last two games with a groin injury on top of bone spurs in both ankles and other issues with his legs.
Chancellor has missed just three games in his five-year career. But holding him out the last two Sundays, the wins over the Giants and Raiders, has the Seahawks thinking they might have their hard hitter refreshed for the final seven regular-season games.
He had offseason hip surgery then almost had surgery for the bone spurs in September before deciding to play through that. He said his latest injury, the groin, came when he was simply sprinting during practice on Oct. 23.
As for whether he is now fresher than ever for mid-November, Chancellor said: “It definitely was a little break for me. Feels a little better than what it was. I guess that would be a refreshment for the better.”
Kansas City will challenge Chancellor and Seattle’s outside linebackers this week: Malcolm Smith, returning after missing two weeks because of a groin injury, Bruce Irvin and emerging rookie Kevin Pierre-Louis. The Chiefs like to have Alex Smith throw short and to the outside to All-Pro running back Jamaal Charles and tight end Travis Kelce, who has 34 catches with a team-high four touchdown receptions.
Seattle has allowed nine touchdown catches by tight ends in nine games this season.
Second tight end Anthony Fasano is tied with Charles for third on the Chiefs with 20 receptions. But Fasano is questionable to play Sunday because of a knee injury.
“The quarterback looks for them,” Chancellor said of Kansas City’s tight ends.
The Seahawks are looking for Chancellor’s return to be a boon against the Chiefs’ short passes.
“Yeah, he’s had a hard time getting balanced where he really felt great,” Carroll said. “It’s been a long haul for him through the offseason, rehabbing and all that kind of stuff. So he’s looking forward to good health, and he feels good this week.
“Hopefully we can put some weeks back to back for him and he can get a little momentum going here to finish the year.”
Carroll said Byron Maxwell will start at cornerback in his second straight game playing since he missed three weeks because of a calf injury. Tharold Simon also will get time at cornerback in Kansas City. Simon has started the last four games with Maxwell having been out.
The coach made it sound iffy for Jeremy Lane being able to play nickel back Sunday. With Carroll saying Marcus Burley won’t be able to play because of a strained hamstring, the Seahawks might move Maxwell inside at nickel and use Simon at cornerback in five-defensive-back sets.
On offense, Carroll said the team was surprised with how well tight end Luke Willson practiced this week on an ankle he sprained against New York. The fill-in starter, now that Zach Miller is out for the season, joins third tight end Cooper Helfet as probable for the Chiefs, though Carroll added the caveat that they have to make it through pregame drills Sunday.
Undrafted rookie Brock Coyle, the fill-in starter the last two games for still-injured Bobby Wagner at middle linebacker, is doubtful to play because of a gluteus muscle injury. That means K.J. Wright will likely start at MLB, as he did at St. Louis and Carolina last month. … The latest weather forecast for the Seahawks’ weekend in Kansas City: 1-3 inches of snow to fall during the day Saturday, partly cloudy with a high of 30 on Sunday. Carroll noted the Chiefs and the NFL have been taking steps to keep Arrowhead Stadium’s field covered and prepared — such as the league ordering Washburn (Kansas) and Northwest Missouri State to move their college game Saturday out of Arrowhead onto campus. Temperatures in Kansas City haven’t been much above freezing since Tuesday afternoon; Friday’s high of 34 degrees was the warmest it has been this week. So the Chiefs’ grass field might still be frozen Sunday. Seahawks QB Russell Wilson has been preparing for the possibility of wearing non-spiked shoes if it is. … The Chiefs declared two of their top three WRs out — Donnie Avery, who has just 14 catches this season, and A.J. Jenkins, who has nine. The Seahawks’ defense is already dialed in on defending Kelce, WR Dwayne Bowe and — most of all — Charles’ running.