Marshawn Lynch suffered a small tweak during Friday's practice and that led to the decision for him not to play against the Vikings on Sunday.
MINNEAPOLIS — Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch hopes to be ready to play a football game next Sunday at Carolina, his agent said Saturday.
Now the question is if the Seahawks can beat the Minnesota Vikings in a wild-card playoff game to give him the chance. The Seahawks and Vikings kick off at 10:05 a.m. Sunday at the University of Minnesota’s outdoor stadium, where game-time temperatures could be around zero degrees.
As late as Friday afternoon following practice, the Seahawks thought they might have Lynch back to add even more spice to an offense that has thrived since he last played on Nov. 15 against Arizona.
Lynch, though, did not make the trip. The Seahawks announced Friday night that Lynch would not play and said in a statement: “Following our final workout Friday he felt like he couldn’t play.”
Doug Hendrickson, Lynch’s agent, said Saturday that was due to “a little tweak” that Lynch had suffered in his surgically repaired abdomen.
“He had a little setback on Friday,’’ Hendrickson said. “Basically a little tweak. And he wasn’t able to go. He’s going to rehab this weekend and hope to hell they win and he gets back next week.’’
Hendrickson said in a phone interview that once it was decided Lynch could not play that it made more sense for him to stay in Seattle and work out and rehab further rather than fly and stand on the sideline in cold weather in Minnesota.
Hendrickson said there was “zero more’’ to the story, calling “completely wrong’’ any speculation that Lynch stayed behind due to friction with the team.
“There is zero friction between him and the team,’’ Hendrickson said.
Former Cowboys receiver Michael Irvin said on the NFL Network that there may have been more than just Lynch’s health at play in the decision.
“I’m wondering is it a physical thing or is it a mental thing? Is he hurt or do they have some kind of situation going on in Seattle?” Irvin said. “I’m just curious … because even if he’s hurt, we would get the, ‘We’re going to see and take it up to game day, he’ll be on the trip with us, we’ll see if he warms up well and see how he goes.’ ”
Said Hendrickson: “That’s completely wrong. If there was friction between him and the team he wouldn’t have shown up to practice (this week). So that’s completely false.’’
Lynch had abdominal surgery Nov. 25. Hendrickson said the surgery typically requires a six- to eight-week recovery time and that this is now Week 7.
“He’s been busting his (butt) these last two weeks to get back,” Hendrickson said. “Been killing himself to get back. He gets back this week to practice, and it’s just at the point where he wasn’t 100 percent ready to go. … He wasn’t able to go and 100 percent cut and run and do all the things he’s supposed to do, and the hope is they win and he’s back next week.’’
” … The setback was something that he can’t play this week and the thought was instead of traveling, go all the way there, stand on the sideline in zero-degree temperatures and then fly back, that you are better served having rehab and getting ready and hopefully they win and he gets back (next week). That’s all there was to it.”
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll did not indicate that Lynch had had a setback when he spoke with the media following Friday’s practice. Lynch was listed as a full participant in that practice, as he was for practices Wednesday and Thursday in his first week back with the team since the surgery.
The team listed Lynch as questionable for the game following Friday’s practice, which Carroll said was to make sure he recovered from the work during the week well enough to be able to play.
“We just want to see how he’s taking to the week’s work and all of that,’’ Carroll said Friday. “He looked good during the week and did some really good stuff, but we’ll just use all of the time that we have available. I have not said yet that he’s playing, I know that’s been out there, but I don’t know until we finish the week. He’s looked really good, and we’re hoping so. Very optimistic about it.”
Hendrickson said Carroll simply didn’t know at that point that Lynch had suffered a setback.
“With so much practicing you don’t know exactly what is going on the whole time during practice,’’ Hendrickson said. “He tweaked it at some point during the practice and kept it kind of to himself and told the trainers, and that was it.’’
Hendrickson also said any speculation that the team has issues with Lynch’s decision to do most of his rehab work in his native Bay Area is wrong.
After an initial recovery period in Philadelphia, Lynch mostly worked out with MMA trainer Tareq Azim in San Francisco. Carroll referred to Lynch as “off-site’’ and “at-large’’ during that time.
Hendrickson said both sides have been on the same page throughout that process.
“Look, any time someone is injured or something like that you look at, ‘OK what’s the best place to get you ready to go and get back?’ ’’ Hendrickson said. “The guy he is training with in San Francisco is one of the best trainers around. He’s been working with him for years, and the bottom line is that everyone felt most comfortable that’s where he should go and work out.
“There’s zero issues with him being down. There’s nothing to it and there’s no friction between him and the team.’’
Hendrickson also called as false any suggestion that Lynch wasn’t playing for any reason other than that he just wasn’t physically able to do so yet.
“For anybody to question this kid’s toughness, he has not missed a game in five years before this year,’’ Hendrickson said. “He’s one of the toughest running backs to ever play in the NFL. And so for anybody to question, ‘Well, he should be back’ … that’s just completely B.S.’’
So the Seahawks begin what would be a lengthy road to the Super Bowl without him, going instead Sunday with Christine Michael as their starting tailback.
The Seahawks — who reached the past two Super Bowls, winning one — will have to win three road games in three weeks as the NFC’s No. 6 seed to reach the Super Bowl on Feb. 7 in Santa Clara, Calif.
“I think it’s going to be a great challenge,’’ defensive lineman Michael Bennett said this week. “But I think our team is ready for this.’’
Indeed, after a 2-4 start that had some wondering if the Seahawks could make the playoffs, the Seahawks rallied to enter the postseason as one of the NFL’s hottest teams.
The Seahawks won six of their last seven games — a stretch that began when Lynch was injured — scoring 29 or more points in all but one and finished second in the NFL in total defense and fourth in total offense. It’s the first Seahawks team to finish that high in both categories in the same season.
The Seahawks also finished 5-3 at both home and on the road, the first time since 2002 Seattle won as many or more games on the road as it did at home, and just the seventh time in 40 years.
“It feels like we are a better road team than a home team this year,’’ linebacker Bruce Irvin said. “Maybe we focus better on the road, I don’t know.’’
Maybe their most impressive road win of the season came where they will play Sunday, a 38-7 win over the Vikings on Dec. 6. The only touchdown the Seahawks allowed in the game was a kickoff return when the score was 35-0.
Seattle gained 433 yards and held the Vikings to 125, a season low for a Seahawks opponent, with running back Adrian Peterson gaining just 18 on eight carries.
“I’m hoping it will be the same game again, but it probably won’t,’’ said middle linebacker Bobby Wagner, who added he expects the Vikings to make a more concerted effort to get Peterson going.
The Minnesota game was the last one before Seattle running back Thomas Rawls suffered a season-ending ankle injury.
That created even more urgency for Lynch, who has rushed for 100 or more yards in six of 10 games with the Seahawks, to get back.
Lynch, though, will wait another week and hope there’s still a game to play when he’s ready.