After missing Monday night's win over the Detroit Lions with a hamstring injury he suffered in Week 3 against the Chicago Bears, Marshawn Lynch was a limited participant in Thursday's practice - his first practice time since the injury - and is "really close" to returning according to Pete Carroll.
Carroll gave a brief update on the status of the Seahawks' starting running back during his weekly segment with KIRO Radio 97.3 FM's Dori Monson. The Seattle head coach said the decision to play Lynch could go all the way to game-time.
>>> UPDATE (10/9/15, 1 p.m. PT): Lynch Has Been Ruled Out For Week 5
"He's working at it," Carroll said. "He got a little bit of work on Thursday at practice and got a chance to run around a little bit. He's really close, but it's a hamstring that's been strained, so it takes a couple weeks for that to really be gone. So the question is whether or not he'd be durable enough to play in a game and maintain and that's what the trainers will figure out by game-time, or before we take off."
The Seahawks will hold one more practice on Friday afternoon before departing for Cincinnati, where they'll face the Bengals at 10 a.m. PT on Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium. Following Friday's workout the team will issue a final practice report for the week listing each injured player's gameday status. Lynch was listed as questionable heading into Seattle's Week 4 game against Detroit when he did not play.
Carroll was also asked what he thinks Seattle's opponents have seen out of his team so far.
"I would think that our opposition is really happy to see that Marshawn isn't playing when he's not playing," Carroll said. "I think that's maybe the biggest factor. They're probably waiting too to see where's this running game going to come from because it hasn't really been the one that we want yet. Russell's doing very well, our receivers are doing well, everybody's catching the ball well and they're getting open and doing nice stuff, but I think they're hoping they can keep us - we were the most explosive team in the NFL last year on offense and we're not there right now, so I think that they're probably hoping that we're not going to get a whole lot better. I really think we are though. I think we'll improve a tremendous amount here as we get into the second quarter of the season."
The second quarter of the season starts with Sunday's matchup against the undefeated Bengals (4-0), who sit atop the AFC North after four weeks.
"They're a really well-rounded team," Carroll said of Cincinnati. "All phases are strong, really good special teams units and good returners and kickers, their defense is very solid and very consistent, causes problems with their nickel group, and the offense has been the most explosive offense in the NFL. The quarterback has been sacked twice and he's thrown one pick. They've just been on the positive throughout, so it's a great challenge for us and it's a good matchup for us, too.
"We're going to hopefully play them really tough and we'll see what they're made of and see if we can hold up on our end of it, but they're a very impressive team right now. Marv [Bengals coach Marvin Lewis] does a great job. They've been very consistent for the last few years and it shows right now."
The Seahawks' games against the Bengals stretch from 1977 to 2011 and this gallery sends you back to each one. Check it out to prepare for their match this Sunday.