After not traveling to Minneapolis for Seattle's wild-card win over the Minnesota Vikings, Marshawn Lynch (abdomen) was a full participant in the Seahawks' first practice ahead of Sunday's divisional round matchup with the Panthers in Carolina.
"We're going to go day to day," Seattle head coach Pete Carroll said during his Wednesday press conference of the Seahawks running back's status. "Day to day is how we'll do this and we'll evaluate the next day and see how it goes. But I can feel he's encouraged to go for it again and we'll see if we can get it done."
Lynch was a full participant in all three of Seattle's practices last week, his first workouts with the team since undergoing surgery in late November. He was listed as questionable after last Friday's practice and downgraded to out later that night because “he really didn’t have the confidence that he would be able to go,” as Carroll put it this past Monday, when he also noted Lynch did not suffer any sort of setback.
Meeting with reporters following Wednesday's practice, offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said Lynch "probably" has "a little bit more pace, a little bit more tempo to him even than he did at the end of last week."
"He looks good," Bevell said. "I can't judge each and every day, but probably one of the best days that he had out here today. He's in there, he's moving around, he's making more cuts, probably a little bit more tempo to it as well, so we'll just continue to go day to day with it."
Bevell said the Seahawks want Lynch to "feel very confident" before he sees what would be his first game action since Nov. 15.
"We don't just want him to go in and have a couple plays and be done," Bevell said. "We want him to be able to finish a game and continue to play, and I think that's what he's trying to get a feel for."
Elsewhere on the injury front for Seattle, fullback Will Tukuafu (hamstring) did not participate in Wednesday's practice because of an injury he sustained against the Vikings. Defensive end Michael Bennett (toe), who typically receives a rest day to start the week, was also sidelined Wednesday. Tight end Luke Willson, though, was a full participant and said he expects to play against the Panthers after sitting out the Seahawks' past two games with a concussion he suffered in Week 16 against the St. Louis Rams.
"Last week was tough, especially going to the playoffs you want to be there for your team," Willson told reporters before Wednesday's practice. "But you know, honestly, after talking to the doctors, some of the symptoms that were going on, it was the right decision and the guys took care of me, so I've got to give a big applause to our training staff and to all our team doctors.
"But again, I'm healed up. The brain's feeling better and ready to roll."
For the Panthers, who enjoyed a first-round playoff bye as the NFC's No. 1 seed, backup running back Fozzy Whittaker (ankle) was the only player listed on Wednesday's report. He did not participate in practice.
Starting running back Jonathan Stewart, meanwhile, who's a native of nearby Fort Lewis, is expected to be back in action against the Seahawks after missing his team's final three games of the regular season with a foot injury. On a conference call with the Seattle-area media on Wednesday, Carolina quarterback Cam Newton said it'll be "great to have Stewart back" this weekend, saying the former Oregon Duck means "pretty much everything" to the Panthers offense after rushing for a team-high 989 yards this season, including 78 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries in the team's Week 6 win at CenturyLink Field.
"He had a good day of practice today, ran really hard, real well with the football, so pretty comfortable having him back out there," Panthers head coach Ron Rivera said of Stewart via conference call on Wednesday. "You hear people say, 'Oh, the layoff is going to hurt him.' Well no, not really, because if you go back to what happened last year, Jonathan was off for six weeks and then when we started our run he was our starting tailback and finished the season for us. So we feel pretty comfortable and confident having him back on the football field."
Also expected back this weekend for Carolina is starting wideout Tedd Ginn Jr., who led all Panthers receivers with 10 touchdowns in 2015 but missed the team's regular-season finale with a knee injury.
Here's a look at Wednesday's practice report for the Seahawks and Panthers:
Did Not Participate in Practice
FB Will Tukuafu (Hamstring)
DE Michael Bennett (Toe)
Full Participation in Practice
TE Luke Willson (Concussion)
RB Marshawn Lynch (Abdomen)
Did Not Participate in Practice
RB Fozzy Whittaker (Ankle)
Take a walk down memory lane with photos from all 10 Divisional playoff game the Seahawks have ever played, including last year's matchup against the Carolina Panthers who the Seahawks face once again in a Divisional playoff game on Sunday.