Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said of running back Marshawn Lynch Friday that his bags are packed and he is expected to play Sunday in a divisional playoff game against the Carolina Panthers.

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RENTON — Marshawn Lynch got on the bus Friday.

Now to see if the running back can carry the mail for the Seahawks on Sunday in a divisional playoff game against the Carolina Panthers.

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll sounded confident that Lynch can do whatever they need to beat the Panthers.

“He’s really pumped to play football and play with his team,’’ Carroll said after Friday’s practice. “So I’m looking forward to him playing like he has in the past.’’

The Seahawks listed Lynch as probable after he fully participated in practices Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, but Carroll made it clear he expects Lynch to play.

Lynch also participated in practices last week, with Carroll indicating after the final practice Friday that he would play. Instead, Lynch told the team after practice that he did not feel ready. He did not make the trip to Minnesota.

Carroll made a good-natured reference to that sequence of events when he was asked after Friday’s practice about Lynch’s status, replying that his “bags are packed.’’

And at 3:18 p.m., Friday, Lynch carried those bags onto one of the team’s four buses ferrying the team to its charter flight to Charlotte, N.C.

A dozen or so reporters and cameramen recorded the scene — which quickly became a trending topic on Twitter with the hashtag #BusWatch2016 — as Lynch walked through the doors at one end of the team’s training facility and onto the bus.

The attention might have struck some as somewhat absurd.

But as Carroll had said earlier when asked what the Seahawks could expect out of Lynch this weekend: “Have you been around here very long with Marshawn and all of that? Not always do we know. He’s somewhat unpredictable in certain ways.’’

Everything about this week, though, apparently went according to form, with Carroll saying Lynch — whose six 100-yard rushing games in the postseason are tied for the third-most in NFL history — appeared to have benefitted from resting last weekend.

“He had a great week (of practice), he really did,’’ Carroll said. “He was faster and more explosive this week than last week, and you could see that he made an improvement.’’

Asked if there are any final steps needed to assure that Lynch can play Sunday, Carroll said: “Just go along with us. Make sure everything is OK. We’ll see how he responds again (Saturday) one more time, but all the indications are that he is in good shape to go.’’

Carroll went far enough to say Lynch would not need a pregame test to make sure he was ready.

“We are in good shape,’’ Carroll said. “Unless he has a reaction to the day’s work, I think we are in good shape.’’

Lynch hasn’t played since Nov. 15 due to an abdominal injury, and he had surgery Nov. 25.

The Seahawks have won seven of eight games since then. The offense has scored 29 or more points in six of those games, with quarterback Russell Wilson going on a historic passing tear.

Carroll, though, said Friday he didn’t think there was anything to the notion that the offense has thrived without having to force the ball to the likes of Lynch and tight end Jimmy Graham (who is out for the season because of a knee injury) and that the mix could be disrupted by Lynch’s return.

“We’re still trying to run the ball as much as always; that shouldn’t change,’’ Carroll said. “I really don’t think that has been the factor, I don’t think that. I know there’s speculation about that. I don’t think that’s been any factor at all. I just think we’ve emerged at the right time. We’ve come together with the O-line, and also the adaptations we made in scheme.

“But we’ll see, we’ll see what happens. We’re going to mix it in, we’re going to still run the football. We’re going to try to run it a lot and balance it out just like we always do and see how it goes.”

Carroll also said Christine Michael — who was re-signed in the wake of a season-ending injury to Thomas Rawls and has rushed for 70 or more yards in three of four games — would continue to see significant action.

“He’s going to play a lot,’’ Carroll said. “We’re expecting him to be in and out of there regularly.”

How much depends on Lynch. Carroll said the team would monitor his condition throughout and let his performance dictate how much he plays.

Carroll, though, hinted at what might come Sunday when asked if Lynch looked like he had regained his confidence.

“I don’t think there’s any question,’’ Carroll said.


  • Carroll said every player on the 53-man roster should be available other than fullback Will Tukuafu, who suffered a hamstring injury against the Vikings.

“We’re excited that we’re loading up that plane and everybody’s going, and we’re ready to go crank it up with all hands on deck,’’ Carroll said. “So it’s exciting.”