Marshawn Lynch has progressed from “at large” to “off-site” in the last week.
But the star running back hasn’t progressed enough to play again for the Seahawks. Not yet.
Coach Pete Carroll confirmed the re-signing of recently released Bryce Brown on Monday, one day after Thomas Rawls broke his ankle and tore ligaments early in the 35-6 win at Baltimore. Carroll also said the team still doesn’t know when Lynch might return from abdominal surgery Nov. 25 while it tries to maintain its four-game winning streak with its two top running backs injured.
Lynch showed up at team headquarters last Wednesday, watching the end of the indoor practice through a window from a hallway. That was two days after Carroll said jokingly Lynch was “at large.”
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Now he’s back “off-site,” and the Seahawks will play on without him for the time being. Three games remain in the regular season.
The playoffs begin Jan. 9. Seattle (8-5) is currently the No. 5 seed in the six-team conference postseason.
“He’s going to be continuing to rehab. He’s going to rehab off-site until he’s ready to get back and, you know, start practicing,” Carroll said of Lynch, 29. “We don’t have a timeline on that.
“He went through a big surgery. He’s got a lot to get through, and he’s got to get past that, whatever impact that’s had. He’s got to get back into shape and get going. It’ll have been, we’re at three weeks from his surgery (Monday), I think, and he hasn’t been able to go yet very hard. He’s going to have to work through that and get himself going again, and come back and show that he’s back and ready to go.”
Asked if it is reasonable to expect Lynch to return before the regular season ends in three weeks at Arizona, Carroll said: “I don’t know. We won’t know until the work starts happening.”
So why is his rehabilitation “off-site” and not under the guidance of the team’s athletic trainers and their program?
“We just think it would be best for him,” Carroll said.
Asked where exactly the Seahawks’ potential Hall of Fame running back is right now, during the team’s push to the playoffs, Carroll responded with a grin: “You’ll have to talk to him about that.”
Carroll said Brown, the former Philadelphia Eagles and Buffalo Bills tailback, will compete with DuJuan Harris, the fill-in for the end of Sunday’s win at Baltimore, and usual fullback Derrick Coleman as the lead back while Lynch is off wherever and Rawls begins his recovery. Brown, Harris and Coleman could get carries Sunday against Cleveland (3-10) at CenturyLink Field.
No matter who does, Carroll said the team’s base philosophy of a run-first offense setting up play-action passes will stay the same — even with Russell Wilson one of the best four-game passing stretch in league history (at least three touchdown passes, no interceptions and a completion rate of at least 70 percent in each game).
“Our commitment’s going to stay the same. We have a balance that we really play with,” the coach said. “We have a philosophy and an approach that doesn’t need to be changed right now.”
Carroll said the team doesn’t believe Rawls needs surgery on the ankle. The Brown re-signing is not yet official, but when it becomes so the team’s corresponding move will be placing Rawls on injured reserve.
Brown is back after Seattle released him Nov. 21 after he was inactive for two games.
Brown has 1,004 career yards rushing after two full seasons with the Eagles in 2012 and ‘13 behind LeSean McCoy and seven games last year with current Seahawks runner Fred Jackson in Buffalo. The Bills released the 6-foot, 220-pound Brown last month, after they traded a fourth-round draft choice to the Eagles last year to get the former seventh-round draft choice. He had only 126 yards rushing in seven games, two starts for Buffalo.
“It’s a good opportunity for us to bring a guy back that we’ve been training,” Carroll said. “We liked the work that he did. Roster issues made it come and go a little bit here, but we’re happy to get him back.”
Harris was signed to the practice squad on Nov. 24 and got promoted to the active roster Dec. 5 for the game the next day at Minnesota. The former Green Bay Packer had 42 yards on 14 carries Sunday at Baltimore and lost a fumble at the Ravens 5-yard line while making a cut.
“I have to be better,” Harris said repeatedly following the game.
Carroll said Jackson will remain the team’s third-down back for pass catching and pass blocking. Jackson had seven carries for 15 yards in Baltimore, plus another 8 yards on a reception with a pass dropped in four targets. The 34-year-old friend of Lynch’s has 24 catches with two touchdowns receiving this season but has looked slow while rushing 24 times for 89 yards this season.
“We’ll feature the runners kind of in the first- and second-down stuff,” Carroll said of Brown, Harris and perhaps even Coleman. “We’re going to keep Freddy in his role, we like what he’s doing for us and fitting into that as well.
“There’s some comp in there, yeah. We’ll see how many plays guys get and see how it goes. We’ll check out the week and make those determinations later.”