Marshawn Lynch is no longer “at large.”
The Seahawks running back was inside team headquarters Wednesday, watching practice through a window from a hallway.
If and when he may return to the field remains unclear.
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said he has spoken to his star running back since he made that cryptic comment Monday on his whereabouts, but wouldn’t comment on Lynch’s possible return.
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The league’s leading rusher since 2011 has missed the last three weeks, wins over San Francisco, Pittsburgh and Minnesota in which rookie replacement Thomas Rawls has romped.
“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.”
Asked if the goal now is for Lynch to return for the start of the playoff that if Seattle qualifies begin Jan. 9, Carroll said: “I don’t know that yet, so I can’t tell you that.”
Lynch had surgery on Nov. 25, performed by a specialist in Philadelphia. He stayed there for more than a week after the procedure to begin rehabilitation.
Carroll had initially given a best-case estimate of Lynch perhaps returning in three to four weeks. Monday Carroll scoffed at his own estimate, saying there’s no way Lynch will be back by then.
It’s obvious that with Rawls plowing for 209, 81 and 101 yards rushing in the last three games, with touchdowns in each, and with his average of 5.6 yards per carry that is 1.3 yards better than Lynch’s, the urgency to get Lynch back is not exactly soaring. If the regular-season finale at Arizona Jan. 3 holds any playoff meaning for Seattle the team could try to target that as his return game, as a 1-2 punch with Rawls in the backfield. But with Rawls’ production the Seahawks don’t necessarily need that to be the case, at least as it stands currently.
The question of whether Lynch has played his last game for Seattle is definitely in play.
Lynch turns 30 in April. No one around the team expected him to fulfill both years of the contract extension he signed in March through 2017; the tangible motivation for that new deal was Lynch getting $5 million more guaranteed for this season. His best friend on the team and in the NFL, Fred Jackson, said recently he isn’t sure what his pal’s football future may be.
If Lynch’s six-season run with the Seahawks isn’t yet over, a possible finish line is coming into view.