Marshawn Lynch could be back with the Seahawks by Wednesday, coach Pete Carroll said Monday.
And if Lynch does return by then and all goes well from there, Lynch could play Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals, and at the least could be ready for a playoff game the next weekend.
Though Lynch was in town over the weekend for personal reasons, he was back in the Bay Area on Monday working out at Empower Gym, Carroll said.
Carroll said Lynch would go through workouts Monday and Tuesday, referring to each as “a big day” in determining where Lynch is in his rehab from abdominal surgery Nov. 25.
“We’ll see how that goes,” Carroll said. “From what I understand he has a chance, if those days go back-to-back and he does well, that he might be in here for Wednesday. We’ll see.”
Lynch’s trainer, Tareq Azim, told NFL.com on Sunday that Lynch has been making “some very significant increases in performance and making tremendous strides.”
Though Lynch has been back in town a couple of times since his surgery he has mostly been in the Bay Area.
The team’s information on Lynch’s progress comes from his trainers, who have worked with him throughout much of his NFL career.
“We’re pretty much relying on the reports that they are giving us and also the work that’s being done,” Carroll said. “Those guys know him really well, and those are the guys that the last few years have really done great work with Marshawn, and we are trusting that they are looking seriously at the preparation level, his endurance and all of those things, to give us a good indication we can move forward.
”We feel like we really understand what is happening.“
Lynch has not played since the Nov. 15 loss at home against Arizona. The decision to have surgery was made after he couldn’t play against San Francisco on Nov. 22.
The Seahawks won the first five games he missed, averaging 34 points along the way, and scoring at least 29 in each.
But the offense struggled Sunday in a 23-17 loss to the St. Louis Rams in which the Seahawks were held to 60 yards rushing – the lowest total for the Seahawks since getting only 44 in a win at St. Louis in 2013.
Quarterback Russell Wilson accounted for 39 yards on six carries, with running backs Fred Jackson (two carries for 11 yards), Bryce Brown (7 for 9) and Christine Michael (6 for 6) gaining just 26 yards on 15 attempts.
Carroll, though, said the running backs weren’t to blame, citing instead the ineffectiveness of the offensive line.
”You couldn’t even tell (how the running backs played),“ Carroll said. ”Really no evaluation to be made off of that.“
Still, the Seahawks hope Lynch could provide a spark to a running game that took an additionally critical hit when rookie Thomas Rawls went out for the season because of a broken ankle suffered Dec. 13 at Baltimore.
Michael and Brown combined for 127 yards on 25 carries against Cleveland on Dec. 20.
But the Seahawks undoubtedly would feel more comfortable entering the playoffs with the return of a battle-tested Lynch, who has been particularly effective in the playoffs throughout his Seattle career. He has gained 917 yards on 187 carries in nine playoff games, an average of 4.9 yards per carry, and rushed for 100 or more yards six times.
Carroll likened the workouts Lynch is undergoing to how he has prepared in the past in the preseason.
Typical of many star running backs, Lynch rarely has gotten much work in preseason games as a Seahawk but hit the ground running once the regular season began.
Carroll, though, said it’s too soon to tell yet if Lynch would be able to immediately resume a regular workload.
”It depends,“ Carroll said. ”We have to see him playing football and see if everything translates. He’s always come back in really good shape, and he’s been fast and strong and have his endurance and stuff like that. So we are kind of (assuming) that’s the same (now).“
Azim also specializes in Mixed Martial Arts, and Carroll said the workouts with Lynch are ”not traditional. They’re something apart from traditional, they’re extraordinary. They really tax you in the process and really challenge a guy mentally and physically, and we’ve really come to appreciate the work that they do and how they do it.“
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