RENTON — Seattle Seahawks star running back Marshawn Lynch returned to the practice field Friday, but only as a spectator to what was basically a walk-through in preparation for Saturday’s mock game.
“He didn’t practice today, but he’ll be ready to practice soon,” Seahawks running backs coach Sherman Smith said. “It’s just good to have him back here.”
Seattle cut wide receiver Randall Carroll to clear a spot on the 90-man roster and accommodate Lynch’s return a day after he showed up at the team’s headquarters to end a week-long training camp holdout. Lynch held out in the hopes of getting changes to his contract.
Fifteen minutes after Friday’s workout began, Lynch stepped out of a side door at the team’s practice facility wearing blue sweats, a snapback hat and a practice jersey. The sold-out crowd cheered. He chatted with teammates and watched the Seahawks go through the one-hour, no-pads practice. At the end, he walked off the field arm-in-arm with Richard Sherman.
Lynch, who rarely speaks with reporters, kept mum Friday. However, Smith was happy to talk about the return of his starting running back.
“It’s evident what he means to our team,” Smith said. “He brings toughness to our team; our run game is predicated on Marshawn’s running style and what he does, so he’s a special guy for us. I’m just glad he’s back, and we look forward to getting him ready for our Thursday night game against Green Bay (the Sept. 4 regular season opener).”
Lynch will be eased into camp. He hasn’t had a carry in a Seahawks uniform since a 1-yard run late in the third quarter of Seattle’s Super Bowl win over Denver. He skipped all of the optional team activities in the spring — as he has at times in the past — but only showed up for the mandatory June minicamp to avoid paying a hefty fine.
Smith said he was relieved to have one of the team’s best players back and also was excited because Lynch’s return once again gives Seattle its full complement of running backs.
“Christine (Michael) and Turbo (Robert Turbin) have been doing a great job in practice and they’ve been getting ready to play,” Smith said of Lynch’s backups. “We’re better with Marshawn, he’s one of the best backs in the league, but we were going to try to get the job done if he wasn’t here.”
Even though he’s back in the fold, Lynch won’t play a lot in the preseason, but that’s nothing new for the veteran back.
“Marshawn doesn’t do a lot of running in the preseason, so that’s the way it’s going to be,” Smith said. “Nothing’s going to change, absolutely nothing.”
The ankle injury that kept Lynch out of last month’s minicamp is not a concern, Smith added.
“No, he’s been cleared to practice,” Smith said. “So we’re looking forward to him getting out there getting some reps. I can’t wait to see it.”
The Seahawks aren’t overly concerned about the time Lynch missed, Smith said, noting that Lynch is a veteran player who already understands the offense and knows what’s needed to get ready for a season.
Lynch’s teammates are excited to have him back. Turbin, who has been splitting first-team running back duties with Michael in Lynch’s absence, said the return of the Pro Bowl back is “good for the team, it’s good for the fans.”
“He works hard, he brings a passion to the game, a toughness to the backfield,” Turbin added. “He has a lot of respect amongst his peers. It’s good. It’s good for the team.”
Associated Press contributed to this story.