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With Lynch out, Seahawks are Turbin-powered
As Robert Turbin was stretching out during pregame warm-ups at Arrowhead Stadium on Friday night, Sherman Smith gave the rookie running back a slap on the shoulder pad, a firm handshake and his marching orders.
“I said to him, ‘Hey, this is the reason why we drafted you – so that we can win, and to show people that we can win without Marshawn,’ ” Smith, the Seahawks’ original running back who now coaches the position, said after practice on Tuesday.
The Seahawks selected the 5-foot-10, 222-pound Turbin in the fourth round of April’s NFL Draft because they wanted a more physical presence in the running game for those occasions when leading rusher Marshawn Lynch needs a down or a series off; or can’t play. That was the case against the Chiefs, when Lynch didn’t even make the trip to Kansas City because of back spasms.
That also will be the case in Thursday night’s preseason finale against the Oakland Raiders at CenturyLink Field. Lynch is better, but not enough to risk playing him in a final preseason game.
So here comes Turbin, again.
Against the Chiefs, he ran for 93 yards on 14 carries, including a 25-yard touchdown run that was just another log on the Seahawks’ bonfire of a 44-14 victory. The week before, Lynch ran for 32 yards in the first quarter, and Turbin then added 34 in the second and third quarters.
In three preseason games, Turbin has 151 rushing yards – which ranks fifth in the league – and he also leads the team with six receptions.
“You can’t ask any more of him,” Smith said of the rookie from Utah State. “He wants to get better every day, and he’s doing that.”
Ask Turbin about his production and you get one of those isn’t-that-why-I’m-here smiles.
“I just approach it to come out here and do my job,” Turbin said. “Coach Sherm says, ‘The best ability is dependability.’ And I just want to make sure when I’m on the field I’m dependable. The offense and the defense, and the coaches and all my teammates, they can all depend on me to do what’s right all the time in a consistent manner.”
If that somehow sounds familiar – a rookie shrugging off his surprising success as just doing his job – cue the comments from quarterback Russell Wilson after a performance against the Chiefs that won him the starting job; and also those from Monday, when he discussed coach Pete Carroll’s decision to put the offense in the hands of a first-year player.
But that’s not surprising, because Turbin and Wilson were roommates during training camp and will continue to share a room – and their passion for improving – on road trips.
Smith picked up on it immediately. “Robert’s maturity is a lot like Russell Wilson’s. He’s a guy that’s serious about his work. He wants to be great. I read Russell’s article, and Robert Turbin will say the same thing: He prepares every day to be great and it shows out there on the field.”
When Turbin and Wilson get down to it, an intensity detector is needed in their room.
“Absolutely,” Turbin said, smiling again. “The conversations we have, man, they get deep. And the good thing about it is it’s not always about football. We talk about our own personal lives and other stuff besides football. We’re going to be real close as these years go by.
“We have similar goals and similar dreams. We want to achieve them and we’re willing to do what it takes at a very, very young age to figure it out.”
So it figures that neither is that impressed by what they’ve done to this point – no matter how impressive it might be.
As Smith put it, “They’re rubbing off on each other, which is good stuff.”