Pete Carroll’s weekly day-after-game press conference had a strange conclusion.
But at the very end, it also had an indicator of the Seattle Seahawks’ respect and admiration for star-of-few-words running back Marshawn Lynch.
A man from a local television station standing behind a recording camera asked Carroll the final questions on Monday. A day earlier Lynch got national attention for responding to 22 questions at his locker with 54 words — many of them answers of “yeah” — following Seattle’s reviving, 19-3 win over Arizona.
“Hey, coach, I was trying to cut some audio (Sunday) night of the interviews, the postgame interviews, and, um, it was a challenge for some of the guys to say some stuff,” the TV cameraman said. “How do you guys make sure that moving forward that that’s not a story, that those guys are saying something?”
Carroll responded, “I’m not sure, who are you referring to?”
“Marshawn. Couple of the others.”
Carroll, with his tongue firmly in his cheek: “I’m not sure who you are referring to. Marshawn had a great press conference yesterday, 30 guys around him.”
The TV cameraman responded: “Sherman, too. I mean, when my job is to go in there and get some stuff, you don’t want that to be the story. You want the team to be the story, right? So how do you make sure that’s the case moving forward? I mean it’s an obvious question, it feels like.”
“Well, I feel for you. You’ve got a tough job,” Carroll said. “The guys didn’t have a lot to say to help you out, give you options to go back and edit and all of that. Those that don’t have as much to say don’t give you as much opportunity to do that.”
Carroll concluded the exchange with a walk-off. It was a glimpse into why players love playing for him — and why the ESPN and NFL Network reports from last month claiming the Seahawks are tired of Lynch’s “act” look less credible with each week he plows on in his own, unique way for big yards with a bad back.
“I think our guys need to be the people that they are, and the individuals that they are,” the coach said. “They have a responsibility (to talk to the media after games per the NFL collective bargaining agreement), and they have to live up to it. But I don’t think that Marshawn can do more to show you who he is.
“He’s a very serious, very private person. He has a way about him. And we respect the heck out of that around here.
“I wish that other people would respect that, as well.”
The Seahawks’ respect for their four-time Pro Bowl running back may be at an all-time high this week. There’s just three days between Sunday’s 19-3 win over the Arizona Cardinals and Thursday night’s showdown of Seattle (7-4) at the San Francisco 49ers (7-4).
Lynch has had to stay outside on the sidelines getting treatment during halftime in 10-degree wind chill at Kansas City because his back was aching. He’s had to sit out two drives in the first half of the win over the Cardinals while spending some of that time sitting on a stationary bike, not pedaling.
The last three weeks, he’s had to sit out practices on Wednesdays and Thursdays. The first week it was rest and a calf injury. The second week it was a calf and then a rib. Last week it was his back. Yet he’s played in all three games, rushing for 303 yards and four touchdowns as Seattle has gone 2-1.
If there was ever a game week that could change Lynch’s ability to be at full effectiveness it would be this one with only three days to heal before the latest alley-fight between Seahawks and 49ers. He sat out Monday’s walkthrough practice.
As Seahawks defensive end Cliff Avril said about Thursday games, a lesson he learned in five seasons playing for the Detroit Lions in the annual Thanksgiving-afternoon game there: “Your body doesn’t start feeling good (from a Sunday game) until Thursday.”
Yet Carroll says it will be the same ol’, same ol’ for Lynch come game time in Santa Clara, California. The bull of a runner has missed one game in his five seasons with Seattle while leading the league in rushing attempts since 2011.
“No. We’re just going to go through the process and see how he is, see if he’s OK,” Carroll said. “We’ll take good care of him, and he’s really smart about how he handles it. So we’ll expect him to be ready to go. He won’t want to miss this thing.”
Have the past few weeks been increasingly difficult for Lynch to play with the back pain he’s had for years, because of the bruising manner in which he runs? And how will he handle Thursday, being his third game in 11 days?
“There’s just been a lot of attention paid to it. But this is how it’s been for the last few seasons for him, basically,” Carroll said. “I don’t know — you’ll have to ask him on how he feels comparatively.”
That drew a laugh from local reporters.
“You can take care of that,” Carroll deadpanned.
“He’s played great. Just great. He’s been able to respond every week. For any player, this is a challenge to play on Thursday. This is a huge physical challenge for these guys across the league — there’s a benefit on the other end of it, too, and we’ll try to cash in on it (next week). But he should be OK.
As for the line that will be blocking for Lynch on Thursday night, Carroll said starting left guard James Carpenter was “as close as you can get” to playing against Arizona. That suggests Carpenter will play at San Francisco. He’s missed the past 31/2 games with a sprained ankle. Alvin Bailey has started the last three games for him.
The starting center against the 49ers will either be recently resigned Lemuel Jeanpierre or fourth-stringer Patrick Lewis, depending on who wins what Carroll said is an open competition in practices Tuesday and Wednesday. Lewis started against Arizona for starter Max Unger, who remains out for a couple more games with a high-ankle sprain and twisted knee.
On defense, Carroll hinted Kevin Pierre-Louis may be going on injured-reserve. The rookie outside linebacker and fourth-round draft choice missed the Cardinals game with a shoulder injury he got at Kansas City on Nov. 16. He had been coming on as a speed rusher in nickel packages and earning more plays in base defense.
“More news to come,” Carroll said about him.
Tight end Cooper Helfet sprained his ankle against Arizona.
“We’ll see,” was Carroll’s word on Helfet’s status for Thursday.
As for Lynch, Avril had fun with his teammate’s minimal postgame performance Sunday. The defensive end was sitting at his locker wearing a plaid, fuzzy hunter’s cap with ear flaps like Lynch wore in the locker room after Sunday’s game.
Avril then began answering the first question with his head down while saying just one word: “Yeah.”
“No, just joking,” Avril finally said, laughing. “That’s funny.”
The hat? Yes, Avril borrowed it from Lynch.