Signs are pointing toward Marshawn Lynch playing Sunday.
Then again, they were pointing that way last week, too.
Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said Wednesday’s practice was the best the star running back has looked in the four practices he’s had since he rejoined the team following five weeks of post-surgery rehabilitation and training in his native Bay Area.
“He looks good,” Bevell said after Lynch’s fourth consecutive full practice. Bevell added Wednesday was “probably one of the best days he's had out there... more cuts, more tempo.”
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An early sign Lynch had progressed from last week came when he stepped onto the field to begin practice. This time he’d graduated from not needing a candy cane in his mouth to begin this Wednesday workout.
Another sign came with what the lead running back’s coach said of Lynch’s rehabilitation from Nov. 25 abdominal surgery, four days before the sixth-seeded Seahawks play in the divisional round of the NFC playoffs at top-seeded Carolina.
“We are going to go day to day. Day to day is how we will do this, then we will evaluate the next day,” coach Pete Carroll said of his star that hasn’t played since Nov. 15. “And we’ll see how it goes. But I think you can feel that he’s encouraged and we’ll go forward again to see if we can get that done.”
Carroll and the Seahawks thought they had it done getting Lynch back on the field last week. The team listed him as a full participant in practices Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. But then just before the team left for the wild-card game at Minnesota Lynch told the Seahawks he didn’t feel he could play against the Vikings and that he wasn’t going on the team’s flight to Minneapolis that day.
Christine Michael had 70, tough yards on 21 carries with the temperature 6 below zero as Lynch’s fill-in again. Michael would start against Sunday against the Panthers if Lynch can’t.
But there’s a growing sense Lynch will play at Carolina.
Offensive line coach and running-game coordinator Tom Cable said to him, Lynch is starting to look normal again on the field.
Wide receiver Doug Baldwin said it would be “huge” if Lynch could play at Carolina.
“Not only (with his running) but how that would raise morale in the huddle,” Baldwin said.
Baldwin, who got his 15th touchdown reception in 17 games last weekend, praised Michael for how he stepped up again in Lynch’s absence.
“But yes, of course we’d be ecstatic to have him back,” Baldwin said.
Here is some more of what Carroll called the exciting matchup at the 15-1 Panthers Sunday:
▪ TE Luke Willson, who has missed the last two games with a concussion, returned to full practice participation.
▪ DE Michael Bennett did not practice to rest his troublesome toe, for which he had an injection last Wednesday then played last weekend at Minnesota -- and dominated.
▪ FB Will Tukuafu missed practice with a hamstring injury that limited him last weekend and led to more snaps for Derrick Coleman as Michael’s blocking back.