That group of starters should include running back Marshawn Lynch, who likely won’t play as much as some starters, but will get his first carries of the preseason. Lynch, who held out for the first week of training camp, only played the first two plays in last week’s game and did not have a carry. That should change, according to Carroll.
“It’s time,” Carroll said. “It’s time for him to get some carries and get involved a little bit. I could not be more pleased with the conditioning level that he’s had, the consistency of practice and his preparation has been great. He’ll be ready to go and I know he’s looking forward to that too.”
The starting lineup could also include the entire starting line for the first time, though again, Carroll wouldn’t say for sure if left tackle Russell Okung or center Max Unger, who have missed the first two preseason games but are back to practicing, will play.
“You’ll see who plays tomorrow night,” Carroll said.
Linebackers Malcolm Smith and Korey Toomer, who both returned to practice this week, are, “ready to play some football, which is great,” Carroll said. Carroll used the same “ready to play some football line” when asked about Kam Chancellor, adding, “he may get out there.”
On Toomer, who after missing all of last season excelled in offseason workouts but opened camp on the PUP list with a hamstring injury, Carroll said, “Time’s running out. We haven’t had a chance to see him. He had a really good offseaon, but unfortunately he just has not been able to get enough time to really establish where he is on the roster. So more than some other guys, he has a lot to and hopefully he’ll get some good opportunities.”
On Christine Michael, Carroll said of the second-year running back, “I think he’s the most improved player on our team. He’s come a long ways in so many ways. He just needs to keep playing and he needs to keep competing and showing he’s growing as a football player. He’s explosive, his mind is in it, he’s all over it, so we’re just anxious to keep bringing him along.
Asked what has become a weekly question about the punt return situation, and specifically about Earl Thomas, Carroll said, “We’ve just seen a little bit. He’s practiced really hard at it, a bunch of guys have. He’ll get out there first again in this game and he’ll get a couple of shots.”
Receiver Bryan Walters, who had a couple of nice returns last week and is fighting for a roster spot, is unlikely to play because of a rib injury, Carroll said.
On receiver Kevin Norwood, who is recovering from foot surgery, Carroll said, “He’s progressing really well. He feels great, next week is the week that he could possibly get back going again.”
Linebacker Bruce Irvin could also possibly return next week, though the target is still a week later, and anything earlier would be a bonus. Irvin, who is recovering from hip surgery, is “getting real close, he’s has no setbacks, he’s flying around the field,” Carroll said.
Carroll said they’re hoping to get linebacker Bobby Wagner back next week as well.
Asked about the skirmishes at practice this week, the last of which was between defensive backs Tharold Simon and Earl Thomas, Carroll quipped: “We’re working on our retaliation skills.”
Carroll was asked for updates on injured DT Michael Brooks (knee) and LB Horace Miller (knee) and said, “Michael Brook is going to get operated on, I think that’s happening today. (Miller), it’s a while before he can get back. He’s got a pretty good knee sprain. He’s still on crutches.”
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