If all goes well in workouts and practices this week, Lynch, who had abdominal surgery Nov. 25, could start Sunday. “We’ll see,’’ coach Pete Carroll said. “We anticipate that.”
RENTON — His off-site rehabilitation completed, running back Marshawn Lynch returned to the Seahawks on Monday.
And if all goes well in workouts and practices this week, Lynch could return to the starting lineup when the Seahawks open the playoffs Sunday at Minnesota.
“We’ll see,’’ coach Pete Carroll said Monday. “We anticipate that.”
Lynch has not played since Nov. 15 due to an abdominal injury that required surgery Nov. 25.
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Since then, the Seahawks have won six of seven games due in part to an offensive surge in which they scored 29 or more points in all but one game.
But should Lynch show he’s healthy, he would return to his role as the primary tailback, with Carroll saying there is no reason he couldn’t have 20-plus carries against the Vikings.
“I think so,’’ Carroll said. “This is similar to the first game of the year, really, is what it would be like. We don’t have any different expectations than that, so we’re going at it with the same thought.’’
Since the surgery and a rehab period in Philadelphia, Lynch has been primarily working out in the Bay Area with MMA trainer Tareq Azim.
The Seahawks had thought Lynch might return last week and possibly play against the Arizona Cardinals.
Instead, he needed one more week to be ready to return to football.
“He feels good now; that’s why he’s back,’’ Carroll said. “He wouldn’t be here if he didn’t feel like he could go. He’s ready to rock.’’
Carroll offered the usual cautions that Lynch will have to make it through workouts and practices without any setbacks. But he sounded optimistic that won’t be an issue.
“We’ll just have to find out what it looks like,’’ Carroll said. “I really think it’s going to be just fine, I’m not really worried about it at all.”
As for what the team will need to see out of Lynch to know he’s ready, Carroll said simply some glimpses of what they always have seen from him.
“We’ve been around him for such a long time, we’re going to be able to recognize those moves,’’ Carroll said. “That’s all we want to see — him getting in and out of breaks. Things he always can do. Withstand the workload and all that.’’
Lynch initially was replaced by rookie Thomas Rawls, who in the first game without Lynch rushed for 209 yards in a win over the 49ers.
But Rawls suffered a season-ending ankle injury Dec. 13 at Baltimore, throwing the running-back spot into some flux. The Seahawks then re-signed 2013 second-round pick Christine Michael and free agent Bryce Brown.
Michael has emerged to have his two best NFL games in the past three weeks, including a career-high 102 yards in Sunday’s 36-6 win over the Cardinals.
Carroll said the fact that the offense hasn’t missed much of a beat with Michael and Brown gives the team some leeway on how to use Lynch.
“The fact we’ve seen C-Mike do such a nice job, he’s ready to go,’’ Carroll said. “He ran the ball hard the other day and was very effective. Bryce, too. So we’re in good shape in that position now if he’s (Lynch) able to make it through the week.”
Lynch, 29 and in his ninth NFL season, rushed for 417 yards on 111 carries in seven regular-season games and averaged 3.8 yards per carry, the lowest of his six years in Seattle and tying the lowest of his career.
Carroll, though, said the addition of Lynch — who has rushed for more than 100 yards in six of his 10 career playoff games — can only help.
“The fact we get a guy like that coming back to us is a great boost,’’ Carroll said. “He’ll add to everybody’s confidence, and he’s fun to have around and all that. It should work out great. That said, I hope he can play this week, I hope it works out.”
As for working Lynch back into an offense that has found a groove the second half of the season, Carroll said he didn’t anticipate any issues there, either.
“I don’t think that’s going to be any factor at all,’’ he said.