Marshawn Lynch has rejoined the Seahawks at their headquarters in Renton after six weeks away. And the team expects its cornerstone running back to start Sunday’s playoff opener at Minnesota and perhaps carry the ball 20 times.
That was what coach Pete Carroll said Monday.
“He’s ready to go,” Carroll said. “He’s in the program, going, working ... He’s going to continue doing his workouts here today and tomorrow, and Wednesday we are going to practice him and see how he feels and how far he can take it.
“He’s worked out incredibly in competitive situations. He physically should be ready to go, but now we’ve got to translate it into football. ...We’re just going to see if he can handle it -- and expect that he will.”
Carroll said the Seahawks want to see that he is “able to get in and out of his breaks” and do what they’ve seen him do since they traded for him from Buffalo in 2010. Lynch was the league’s leading rusher and touchdown maker with Seattle from 2011 until this his first injury-filled season of his nine-year career.
He had abdominal surgery on Nov. 25 in Philadelphia and was seen in the team’s facility just once in the previous 43 days before Monday. He was rehabilitating with his own trainers in San Francisco until Monday.
After missing just one game in his first five seasons with Seattle, Lynch has played in just seven games this season. He rushed for 417 yards and three touchdowns in the regular season, with an average of 3.8 yards per carry.
Asked if the Seahawks (10-6) can expect Lynch to have his usual workload, 20 or so carries Sunday at Minnesota (11-5) in his first game in almost two months, Carroll said: “I think so, yeah.”
His injuries -- hamstring and calf strains and pulls before the sports-hernia like abdominal one -- have kept Lynch to only two games with 20 rushes this season.
“This is similar to the first game of the year, really, is what it would be like. So we don't have any different expectations than that,” Carroll said of Lynch this week. “So we're going in it with the same thought. We've been around him for such a long time that we're going to be able to recognize his movement. That's all we really want to see -- that he can get in and out of his breaks and do the things that he always can do and that he can withstand the workload and all of that.”
Put it this way: The Seahawks didn’t endure their lead back to whom they are paying $4.5 million guaranteed this season going away to his native Bay Area to rehabilitate for more than a month for him to not play in the postseason. He’ll start, even if his coach didn’t unequivocably say so six days before the game at the Vikings.
"He feels good now," Carroll said. "That's why he's back. He wouldn't be here if he didn't feel like he could go, so he's ready to rock. We'll just have to find out what it looks like. I really think it's going to be just fine. I'm not really worried about it at all."