RENTON – It’s something Seattle running backs coach Sherman Smith doesn’t like to see – his every-down running back in full uniform standing next to him watching from the sideline.
But that was the case when Marshawn Lynch developed lower-back spasms while warming up before the Cleveland game, relegating him to the role of spectator.
“I was disappointed because I know how much he means to our offense,” Smith said. “He’s got outstanding skills as a runner, and we need him in the game.
“And so to find out as fast as we found out unexpectedly, it shocked me. And I know it must have bothered him because he’s a tough guy. If he can go, he’ll go.”
Sunday was only the fourth game in Lynch’s five-year career that he has missed because of an injury. He missed three games his rookie season with Buffalo in 2007 because of an injured ankle.
Lynch said he has been dealing with a nagging back issue for a while, but it never got to the point where he had to miss a game.
“It’s frustrating, but at the same time going out and doing battle the way we do, you’ve got to listen to your body sometimes,” he said. “I took the time and actually listened to it, and it told me it wasn’t what I thought it was. Sometimes things happen like that.”
At 5-foot-11, 220 pounds, Lynch is a physical runner who can move the pile. His backups, Leon Washington (5-8, 203) and Justin Forsett (5-8, 198) are shifty runners who rely on elusiveness more than brute strength to break free.
Smith acknowledged Seattle loses some versatility when Lynch is not available, but the team’s approach in the running game remains the same.
“We were going to run the same stuff, but it’s just that you have a different guy running it,” Smith said. “First of all, (Lynch is) bigger than both of them, so getting the tougher yards is easier for him because he weighs 30 pounds more than those guys. So we lost that dimension, and also the fact of his unique run skills. So it affects us. We’re different without him.”
Thomas Clayton led Seattle in rushing during the exhibition season, finishing with 137 yards on 38 carries, including two touchdowns. In his third season, the 5-11, 227-pound Clayton is a physical runner similar to Lynch.
However, Clayton was let go by Seattle during final roster cuts in September and has not found another job in the league.
The Seahawks could use fullback Michael Robinson in short-yardage situations if Lynch is not available.
Lynch was a full participant in practice on Thursday, and expects to play this Sunday against Cincinnati.
“That’s the goal,” he said. “It never happened to me where I’ve not been able to play, but I don’t think it’s something that I should be worried about too much, that it might happen again.”
MILLER GOOD TO GO
Seahawks tight end Zach Miller participated in his first full-contact workout in three weeks Thursday and should be ready to go Sunday against Cincinnati.
Miller was a limited in practice on Wednesday, and did not participate in any contact plays.
The former Arizona State player missed the Cleveland game due to a concussion he suffered in the first half against the New York Giants on Oct. 9, taking a hit to the head from Giants safety Kenny Phillips on a Tarvaris Jackson pass over the middle.
Miller had to leave the game but later returned, only to leave the game again and not play in the second half. Phillip received an unnecessary-roughness penalty and was fined $20,000 by the league.
“It’s part of the game,” Miller said. “A few years ago that hit would have been legal. So you can’t fault the defensive guys too much because they’re trying to make plays on the ball. And it’s tough when you change a rule to try (to) adapt and play within the rules.
“I wish it wouldn’t have happened, though. Being a tight end and running across the middle and catching those balls, you expect to take quite a few shots every year that you play.”
Miller said he’s had a couple of concussions in his career, but none like this one.
“It’s not something you want to get, but from everything we know about concussions once you’re healed – and they did a good job here of making sure everything is right before clearing me – it’s just like anything else, you’re back to normal.”
Seattle quarterback Tarvaris Jackson (strained pectoral muscle) was a limited participant in practice for the second straight day. Whether he plays on Sunday likely will be a game-time decision. Safeties Atari Bigby (hamstring) and Jeron Johnson (ankle) did not practice. Along with Miller, safety Kam Chancellor (knee), center Max Unger (foot) and Lynch (back) were full participants. Cornerback Brandon Browner returned to practice on Thursday after missing Wednesday’s practice due to a non-injury related incident.
Eric D. Williams: 253-597-8437 email@example.com blog.thenewstribune.com/seahawks