Back in October of 2010, after a few previous conversations that went nowhere, the Seahawks acquired Marshawn Lynch from Buffalo in a deal that will go down as one of the best trades in Seattle sports history. In the four seasons that followed, Lynch has rushed for more than 1,200 yards and double-digit touchdowns every year while becoming the tone setter on offense for a Super Bowl-winning team.
"He means everything to this offense," receiver Doug Baldwin said prior to Super Bowl XLIX. "I don't know where we would be without Marshawn Lynch. He is the engine. He is the heart and soul of this offense. Everything runs through him. Despite what everyone wants to think, Marshawn Lynch is this offense. I don't know what else to say about that."
So yes, it was a very big deal earlier this offseason when the Seahawks signed Lynch to a three-year contract extension. Conventional wisdom says Lynch, 29, should be nearing the end, but his 2014 season, which was arguably the best of his career, indicates he has plenty of big runs and productive games ahead of him, which is very good news for the Seahawks' offense.
But what else is happening at running back in 2015? Let's take a look.
|Returning starters:||RB Marshawn Lynch|
FB Derrick Coleman
|Additions:||RB Thomas Rawls (UDFA)|
RB Rod Smith (UDFA)
FB Brandon Cottom (UDFA)
Initial 53-man roster included four backs: Lynch, Robert Turbin, Christine Michael and Coleman.
What's at stake in training camp:
For Lynch, not a lot other than doing enough to prepare for Sept. 13. As has been the case in past seasons, Lynch's work load will be limited both in practice and especially in preseason games, but there is no reason to think he won't be ready when the regular season begins.
The backup job is in very good hands with Robert Turbin, who doesn't just spell Lynch, but who also serves as the third-down back and the lead back in two-minute situations (don't forget it was his big run early in the drive that set up a touchdown at the end of the first half of Super Bowl XLIX). Turbin also showed his versatility last season filling in at fullback when Derrick Coleman went down with a foot injury.
Beyond the top two backs, there is a bit to work out in terms of depth. Perhaps no one in the position group has more to prove than 2013 second-round pick Christine Michael, who has yet to earn consistent playing time in his first two seasons. Michael undoubtedly has physical ability, but thus far has not been able to turn that into a significant role in the offense with Lynch and Turbin ahead of him in the pecking order. Also keep an eye on the undrafted rookies, Thomas Rawls and Rod Smith, both of whom showed flashes while getting a lot of work in offseason workouts thanks to Lynch's absence from voluntary OTAs and Turbin's recovery from offseason hip surgery. Rawls in particular drew praise from Pete Carroll for his play this offseason.
At fullback, the return of Coleman from the foot injury is very good news both for the offense and for special teams. The Seahawks have usually carried only one fullback on the roster in the past, which would mean Coleman and Will Tukuafu battling for a job, but perhaps Tukuafu's versatility—he played limited snaps as a defensive lineman last year—could be enough to convince the Seahawks to carry both.
A player-by-player look at Seattle's running backs and fullbacks ahead of the Seahawks' 2015 training camp.