No doubting Marshawn Lynch

Posted Sep 4, 2013

We hardly saw Marshawn Lynch during the preseason games, when he was limited to five carries. But with the regular-season opener on the horizon, look for Lynch to rise and shine on Sunday.

Whatever happened to Marshawn Lynch?

You remember him. Goes by Beast Mode. Breaks tackles on just about every carry. Ran for 1,590 yards and 11 touchdowns last season, after running for 1,204 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2011. Triggered seismic activity near CenturyLink Field with his electrifying 67-yard touchdown run to ice the upset of the defending Super Bowl champion New Orleans in the 2010 wild-card playoff game.

Yeah, that Marshawn Lynch.

He’s not only very alive and very well; Lynch also is very rested for Sunday’s regular-season opener against the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte.

And that has been by design, after Lynch carried the ball 315 times last season when the Seahawks ran it more than any team in the NFL and then added 36 more carries in two playoff games. That’s why Lynch got just five carries during the preseason – which tied for seventh, and last, on the team behind the rookie tandem of Christine Michael (40) and Spencer Ware (23), incumbent backup Robert Turbin (24), backup QB Tarvaris Jackson (nine), since-released QB Brady Quinn (seven) and first-year fullback Derrick Coleman (six).

Ask about Lynch’s inactivity during the preseason, and whether he’s not only ready but prepared for the regular season, and an Alfred E. Neuman convention breaks out. You know, a chorus of looks that scream “What Me Worry?”

“No. None whatsoever,” Sherman Smith, the Seahawks’ running back in their inaugural season opener in 1976 who now coaches the position, said when asked if he had any qualms about Lynch’s ability to go out and carry the load. Again. Still.

Smith quickly pointed out that Lynch got more reps during training camp practices than any of the other backs on the roster before adding, “That was the plan. Marshawn got his work in practice, because we knew he’d be limited somewhat during the preseason.”

And Lynch made the most of those practice-field carries. During training camp. During the practices between the preseason games. And on Wednesday. He looks fast, explosive and, more importantly in the Seahawks’ zone-blocking scheme, decisive.

One step and go? With Lynch, it usually has been one step and he’s gone.

“He’s in great shape. He reported in great shape,” said coach Pete Carroll, who pushed for the trade just before the deadline in 2010 to acquire Lynch from the Buffalo Bills. “He had a plan to trim a few pounds as he went through camp. He did it exactly like he had planned on it.

“He’s looked fast and agile and strong, and has prepared every single day full-on. So he has had great preparation for the season. He’s going to have enough hits during the season. We tried to take as many off of him as we can at this time.”

So while we all saw less of Lynch, Carroll saw exactly what he was looking for.

“I haven’t seen him like this,” he said. “I haven’t seen him this sharp going in. He’s really taking it seriously. That’s not just like in the last month or so, that’s six months of preparation. He has really poured himself into it to prepare for a great year.”

Also count offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell among the qualm-less when it comes to Lynch’s readiness.

“Marshawn looks great,” Bevell said. “He looks fast. He’s been running well in the games. He’s been running well in practice. So I don’t think there are going to be any issues there.”

And what about those linemen who have been pouring themselves into blocking for backs not named Marshawn Lynch?

All-Pro center Max Unger: “Running backs only have a certain amount of carries, and I would prefer those carries to be in the regular season as opposed to the preseason. I think Marshawn will be ready to rock when the time comes.”

Right guard J.R. Sweezy: “Definitely. No question. He’ll be the same Marshawn we all know. I know he’s going to be Beast Mode when we need him.”

One last word, or six, on Lynch from Smith: “He’s ready to go. No doubt.”