Marshawn Lynch is smiling as he prepares this week for his debut with the Seahawks in Chicago. But the 215-pound workhorse appears determined to make a big impact with his second NFL team.
RENTON — The fresh start has given way to a fierce smile from the newest Seahawk.
There’s a shine to Marshawn Lynch this week. A sparkle that goes beyond his gold-capped left incisor.
“It’s a real exciting time for me,” Lynch said. “I almost feel like a rookie all over again. Everybody is excited to see what I’m going to do. I’m also excited to see what I’m going to do myself.”
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All eyes are on Lynch.
He is 215 pounds of workhorse potential in Seattle’s backfield. Coach Pete Carroll hasn’t named him the starter ahead of Justin Forsett, but Lynch is going to be a mainstay in this offense.
He attended the same Bay Area high school that produced Rickey Henderson, and of all his tattoos, the one that’s most telling might be “Mama’s Boy,” across his back. Mama gets a card on Mother’s Day, one on Father’s Day, too. Delisa Lynch filled both roles growing up in Oakland.
Marshawn returned to California for a couple of days during Seattle’s bye week, getting enough time to see younger brother Davonte rush for 260 yards back in Sacramento where his Sheldon High School team won in an upset.
Lynch’s grass roots run deep in Northern California. He went to California, one of three cousins who committed to play for the Golden Bears. His uncle, Lorenzo Lynch, played 11 years in the NFL as a cornerback, and was a high-school teammate of Delton Edwards, who ended up coaching Marshawn at Oakland Tech.
“He’s like a son to me,” Edwards said of Lynch. “He’s always going to be very special to me.”
Edwards is known as Coach D, and he’s the one who’d show up at Lynch’s house Saturday mornings in the offseason and have him running bleacher steps to stay in shape.
Lynch was with Edwards at the high-school gym in 2007, the day the Buffalo Bills took him with the 12th overall selection. Lynch had turned 21 only a week earlier.
He rushed for more than 1,000 yards in each of his first two years with the Bills, made the Pro Bowl as an alternate after the 2008 season, replacing Chris Johnson. Lynch’s emergence as one of the premier young backs in the league was derailed when he was suspended three games by the NFL after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor firearm charge. That came after he was investigated for a hit-and-run incident in Buffalo in 2008.
His role declined in Buffalo last year as Fred Jackson became the starter. By the time the Bills changed coaches for 2010, hiring Chan Gailey, Lynch wanted out. He didn’t attend most of the team’s offseason workouts.
He was the Bills’ starter by Week 2 this year, but after an 0-4 start, Buffalo decided to get what it could for Lynch — a fourth-round pick in 2011 and a conditional pick the year after.
Lynch gets to start over on the West Coast, and now Seattle has a back who has made a reputation and plenty of money because of his ability to gain yards after contact.
“He runs like he’s angry,” said Chris Spencer, Seattle’s center.
Lynch doesn’t just embrace the physical nature of the position, but has a name for that mentality: Beast mode.
“I won’t be denied,” he said his first day as a Seahawk. “I’m just relentless.”
It has been awhile since Seattle had swagger to its running game — not since 2006, when Shaun Alexander was the league’s reigning MVP.
Seattle has tried Edgerrin James, Julius Jones and T.J. Duckett since then. The Seahawks even had LenDale White for 35 days before kicking him loose. But when Seattle takes the field in Chicago on Sunday, against the No. 3-ranked rushing defense of the Bears, the Seahawks will have a former first-round pick who is just 24 and determined to make the most of this second chance.
“Line ‘em up,” he said of the Bears. “They get prepared to play on Sunday just like me. And I’m pretty sure they’ve got the same kind of feeling, you know, with us coming to town.”
There’s a new face to Seattle’s rushing offense, and he’s flashing a gold-toothed smile as he prepares for his first impression with his second team.
Danny O’Neil: 206-464-2364 or firstname.lastname@example.org