RENTON — Marshawn Lynch was back as the Seahawks opened their mandatory three-day minicamp Tuesday.
The way coach Pete Carroll saw it, though, Lynch had never really left.
Carroll mostly shrugged at the attention given to the fact that Lynch showed up for minicamp following five days of speculation that he might sit it out in an attempt to get alterations to his contract.
“Yeah, it was a big story,” Carroll said dryly afterward. “We expected him to be here and he’s here, you know?”
Lynch didn’t do anything during practice, instead standing on the sidelines and often joking with teammates and coaches. But Carroll said that was by design. Carroll said Lynch recently “tweaked” his ankle and likely won’t take the field during the three days of the minicamp, which ends Thursday.
“We’re just taking care of it, making sure it’s OK,” Carroll said. “There’s enough there that we don’t want to mess with it.”
Reports began to surface Thursday that Lynch might skip minicamp and that he’d like the Seahawks to do something to beef up a four-year contract he signed in 2012, paying him a possible total of $30 million.
An ESPN report Tuesday stated that Lynch showed up believing the Seahawks will make a “good faith” effort to give him some more money, specifically for the 2014 season, when he is due a base salary of $5 million. Getting money in 2014 has been said to be a priority for Lynch because there has been speculation the team could release him before the 2015 season. By attending minicamp, he avoids fines that could have reached as much as $70,000.
Carroll said he would not comment on whether Lynch is unhappy with his deal, saying it is team policy not to discuss player contracts. Lynch did not speak to the media.
Lynch also didn’t attend any of the team’s nine OTAs spread over the previous three weeks, and speculation last week hinted that might also have been due to his contract. Carroll, though, said Lynch’s inactivity is simply business as usual for a running back who has averaged 300 carries the past three seasons and turned 28 in April.
“I’ve talked to him a number of times and everybody at one time or another has been in contact with him,” Carroll said. “... He’s got a great relationship with our club and our teammates and the coaches and all that. We have rested him a lot in the offseason. He takes a big pounding during the year. It takes him a long time to get his body back to where he doesn’t feel the rigors of the season. ...
“You won’t see him get the ball a lot in the preseason. We will work all the way to the opening day and see if we can him get him right for then, and that’s what’s most important.”
Carroll said he had not had conversations about a change in Lynch’s role in 2014. “We have never even approached that because that’s not even a question. It’s never even come up.”
Instead, Carroll said emphatically he expects Lynch to again be the centerpiece of Seattle’s offense, even though young running backs Christine Michael and Robert Turbin have been making significant progress.
“We expect (Lynch) to come right back in and battling and doing the things that he does,” Carroll said. “Turbo (Robert Turbin) and Christine (Michael), those guys want some time, too, and they are battling and had a great offseason for us. But Marshawn has really been the guy for us and we love everything about the way he plays and what he brings to this team and he has never taken a step backwards at any time for us in all the time that we’ve been here.”
WILLIAMS ARRIVES: Defensive tackle Kevin Williams, signed the day before, participated throughout, wearing No. 94. Williams said he initially envisions competing for a spot as an early down-run defender, a role that would be similar to that held the past few years by Red Bryant. Williams, who played the past 11 years with Minnesota, was reportedly offered more money by New England before agreeing to a one-year deal with Seattle that could top $2 million. “I think at the end of the day they are doing some great things with a bunch of young guys,” he said of signing with Seattle. “A chance to play in a great rotation at the defensive line. I think it’s the best fit for me.”