Seattle Seahawks

Lynch back in fold

Marshawn Lynch is no longer “at large.”

The Seahawks running back was inside team headquarters Wednesday for the first time since abdominal surgery in Philadelphia on Nov. 25, then more than a week longer there to start rehabilitation. The NFL’s leading rusher since 2011 watched the end of his teammates’ indoor practice from a hallway through a window while chatting with a team staffer.

If and when he may return to the field remains unclear.

Lynch has missed the last three weeks, wins over San Francisco, Pittsburgh and Minnesota in which rookie replacement Thomas Rawls has romped for 209, 81 and 101 yards, respectively.

Rawls has three touchdowns in those last three games. That’s as many as Lynch has in his entire injury-stalled season.

Coach Pete Carroll said a couple hours before Lynch was spotted in the Seahawks’ building that although Lynch’s rehabilitation is going well, he is not yet ready to rejoin the team. Fans at a University of California women’s basketball game on Saturday in Berkeley posted pictures of Lynch in attendance, a few miles north of his hometown of Oakland.

Lynch’s possible return to play in Seahawks games remains unknown.

“He’s rehabbing, and when he’s ready to start working with us we will get him going. Not quite yet,” Carroll said. “But he’s made improvement, he’s feeling OK about it. We’ll see what happens. It won’t happen this week.”

Four games remain in the regular season, including Sunday at Baltimore. Asked if the goal now is for Lynch to return for the start of the playoffs that — if Seattle qualifies — begin on Jan. 9, Carroll said: “I don’t know that yet, so I can’t tell you that.”

Last month Carroll had given a best-case estimate of Lynch perhaps returning in three to four weeks, perhaps by the Dec. 20 game against Cleveland. Monday, Carroll scoffed at his own estimate. He said there’s no way the team should have expected Lynch, who turns 30 in April, to be back by then.

Gregg Bell: @gbellseattle

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