RENTON — The player who claims to be all ’bout that action will finally get some Friday. RB Marshawn Lynch, resolute at stiff-arming the media and even his bosses for a little while with a holdout, will shove a hand in the faces of the Chicago Bears at 7 p.m. Friday when the Seahawks play their second and final home game of the preseason.
The regular-season opener is in two weeks against the Green Bay Packers. Since the final exhibition game next week in Oakland is traditionally a jumble of moments for players desperate to make the 53-man roster, Friday is the day for Lynch to join the first team and get used to the clatter of pads for the first time since Feb. 2.
“It’s time for him to get some carries and get involved a little bit,” coach Pete Carroll said after practice Thursday. “Really, I could not be more pleased with the conditioning level that he’s had – the consistency of practice and his preparation has been great.
“He’ll be ready to go and I know he’s looking forward to that too.”
Since the Seahawks have settled nearly all the starting positions, now that rookie Justin Britt seems to be handling right tackle well enough to hold off veteran newcomer Eric Winston, the dress rehearsal for the season may be more about what the Seahawks do rather than who is doing it.
Intrigue specifically involves the possibilities with Percy Harvin, who claims to feel the best he’s felt in an injury-speckled pro career. Asked the last time he felt this good, Harvin sent a shudder through the NFL with his answer:
“Maybe before college.”
A surgically repaired, uninhibited Harvin was a weapon little known in his first season in Seattle, even though he was the team’s leading rusher in the Super Bowl win with 45 yards, 30 on one play, plus a kickoff returned for a touchdown.
“I definitely feel a lot better,” he said. “I’ve got a lot more motion then I’m used to having. I can do a lot more cuts, just a lot of different motions that I wasn’t able to do before . . (the rest) let everything just heal up help that much more.
“I think the biggest thing with me was (the torn hip labrum fixed a year ago) was controlling a lot of the hamstring/knee problems. My legs are just feeling how they are supposed to feel. It’s very fluent, very smooth, it’s all good.”
The Seahawks are plotting upticks in variety for an offense that for two years has been the lounge act for the marquee defense. One of the wrinkles involves getting Harvin the ball in space.
“In talking to (QB Russell Wilson) he wanted to hit (receivers) before we came out of our breaks because we have so much separation with our speed,” Harvin said. “Getting it to us before our breaks and letting us run with it, getting a lot of (yards after catch) is important for this offense. It’s built for the run after the catch.”
One way to do that was glimpsed last week in the 41-14 rout of the Chargers. The Seahawks ran a no-huddle drive in the second quarter that forced the Chargers keep in the same 11 defenders, who had a hard time tracking Harvin and Wilson in varying formations. Having ultra-fast players operating an offense at hyper-speed, particularly with the empty backfield set that gives Wilson so many options, is the worst kind of afternoon for a defensive coordinator.
Another aspect of the offense to get an airing is the use of RB Christine Michael, the little-seen backup to Lynch a year ago. Despite fumbles in each of the two preseason games that had to have dropped his stock, Michael was the object of praise that was a little surprising to camp watchers.
“I think he’s the most improved player on our team,” Carroll said. “I think he’s come a long ways, in so many ways. He just needs to keep playing and he needs to keep showing and competing. His mind is in and he’s all over it. We’re just anxious to keep bringing him along.
“It’s just a general sense of getting comfortable with the game and what’s expected of him. He’s really been busting his tail to get it done.”
Michael’s improved ability to focus on assignments and bear down in pass protection increase the trust coaches have in him. His use will ease the load on Lynch, as well as the pass offense.
The Seahawks want to start games fast, get leads, then speed up the clock with possessions dominated by the run. Success with the formula last season was sporadic, but with Wilson in increasingly comfortable command throwing to burners in the open field, the chance to sustain scorch marks all over the season is causing the sort of knowing grins around the Seahawks that were seen in the run-up to the Super Bowl.
Besides Lynch, C Max Unger and LT Russell Okung figure to see action, according to Carroll. On defense, a couple of key players who’ve sat out practices and games so far, SS Kam Chancellor and LB Malcolm Smith, should get in . . . Skipping the game is WR Bryan Walters, who had two punt returns for 33 yards against the Chargers before bruising some ribs. He may have a slight edge for the punt return job vacated by Golden Tate, lost in free agency. FS Earl Thomas will be first up taking Bears punts . . . Also out are LB’s Bruce Irvin and Bobby Wagner, although rehabs are progressing to the point that they may be ready for the regular season . . . One who may be playing for a job is reserve LB Korey Toomer, who has missed two seasons with injuries. The Idaho grad, a fifth-round pick in 2012, spent his first two seasons on injured reserve, then strained a hamstring in camp and returned to action only this week. “Yeah, time is running out,” Carroll said. “We haven’t had a chance to see him. He had a really good off-season, but unfortunately he has not been able to get enough back-to-back time to establish where he is on the roster. So more than some other guys, he has a lot to show.” . . . Carroll on Britt’s progress: “Really solid. He’s making great strides to be a legitimate starter. I’ve said before, it’s all in his makeup that really kind of substantiates that he’s able to do this.”