RENTON — Marshawn Lynch sat at his locker Wednesday as Seattle’s star running back talked for the first time since the start of training camp.
The Seahawks hope Lynch is on his feet and on the field come Sunday in the season opener at Arizona and not just a spectator on the bench.
“The goal is to (play). But I stay ready,” Lynch said. “So if I do, I do, and if I don’t, I don’t.”
Lynch is a bit of a question mark going into Sunday’s game with a sore back that has kept him out of the last two preseason games and most of practice during that stretch. Back spasms popped up following Seattle’s exhibition win at Denver on Aug. 18 and, while he’s receiving treatment, the problem still exists.
Seattle coach Pete Carroll said the team will take a day-to-day approach with Lynch for the rest of this week. Lynch went through the team’s walkthrough on Wednesday morning but was limited in practice.
“We really won’t know until the end of the week unless something changes,” Carroll said. “The process that he’s gone through, he’s aerobically in good shape, we need to get him back his football legs and get him enough reps to do that. We’ll continue to progress throughout the week.”
The issue with his back is the latest development in a newsy offseason centered on Lynch. Coming off the finest season of his career, Lynch was rewarded in March when he agreed to a $31 million, four-year contract to stay in Seattle and bypassed an opportunity at free agency.
But the good news about him deciding to stay turned sour when he was arrested on DUI charges early on July 14 after the California Highway Patrol reported seeing Lynch weaving on Interstate 880 in the Oakland, Calif., area. An incident report released by CHP described Lynch driving a Ford Econoline van and having two near collisions with two other vehicles driving in adjacent lanes.
Lynch was charged with two counts in Alameda County, Calif.: driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol and driving while having a blood-alcohol level of .08 or higher. He issued an apology shortly after his arrest and has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
“That’s getting handled,” Lynch said. “That’s a legal matter, so I can’t speak on it. But I’m doing great as a person.”
Lynch rushed for 1,204 yards and 12 touchdowns last season. He was exceptional the final nine weeks of the regular season when he was the most productive back in the NFL. Over those final nine weeks, Lynch rushed for 941 yards and nine scores. He puts most of the credit on the offensive line that finally clicked with the blocking schemes assistant head coach Tom Cable spent the first half of the year trying to perfect.
“They’ve been real prideful in running the ball and that’s what they want to do and with them hard-nosed, wanting to get downhill, wanting to beat on people and wanting to beat on guys, they take pride in it,” Lynch said. “If you can’t tell, it’s carried over from the last eight games of last year to the four this preseason. And there’s no telling where it’s going to go with them because it seems like the more they do it the better they get with it.”
If Lynch can’t go on Sunday the job would fall to rookie Robert Turbin, who looked impressive in preseason, running for 165 yards on 38 carries and averaging 4.3 yards per rush. Even if Turbin doesn’t start, there will be at least two rookies starting for the Seahawks offense.
One has already been known with the announcement that Russell Wilson will be Seattle’s starting quarterback. The other was confirmed on Wednesday when Carroll said J.R. Sweezy, a converted defensive tackle drafted in the seventh round out of N.C. State, would get the start at right guard against the Cardinals. Sweezy’s ascent up the depth chart has been rapid and shocking, considering he never played a down of offense in college and believes the last time he played offensive line was as a child.
“I’ve just been blessed with this opportunity and trying to make the best of it,” Sweezy said. “I’d like to believe that I got better every day.”