RENTON, Wash. -- Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch missed all of the team's offseason activities to date, including a trip to the White House, but he was in attendance for Seattle's OTAs on Tuesday. If Lynch, who is looking for a revision of the four-year, $31 million deal he signed in March 2012, did miss the three days of mandatory minicamp this week -- the first such mandatory activities for the defending NFL champs since Super Bowl XLVIII -- he would have been in line for about $70,000 in fines.
However, attend the first day of practice is all he did -- because he hadn't passed a physical yet, Lynch stood on the sideline with receiver Sidney Rice, who also didn't participate. After the 90-minute practice concluded, head coach Pete Carroll sounded not at all concerned about Lynch's status, happiness with his overall situation, and future with the team.
"Yeah, it's a big story -- we expected him to be here," Carroll said with a laugh. "He's got a sore ankle, and we're going to make sure we take care of him. If there's any question [about a player's physical well-being], we're always going to opt to give guys more time. And I want to make sure he goes into the last month [before the preseason] feeling great."
Lynch, of course, did not speak on his own behalf. So, it was up to Carroll to outline how the offseason communication has been going.
"I've talked to him a number of times, and everybody at some time or another has been in contact with him," Carroll said. "He's made it very easy on us to do that. We have a great relationship -- he's got a great relationship with our club -- with his teammates and coaches and all of that. We have [generally ] rested him a lot in the offseason, because he takes a big pounding in-season, and it takes him a long time to where his body doesn't feel the rigors of the past season. In this case, it's unique, but he's a unique player and he has a unique role on our football team. And so, we do what we do to take care of him. You won't see him get the ball a lot in the preseason -- we'll keep that going to opening day. That's what's most important."
It's possible that much has been made out of relatively little in this particular situation, because Lynch doesn't particularly enjoy making his football issues public -- as the local media has known for years, and as the national media discovered during the week leading up to Super Bowl XLVIII. But no NFL back has carried the ball more often than Lynch over the last three seasons -- he's averaged 334 carries per season over that time, including the postseason -- and this little holdout may be just what Carroll needs to see what he has over the long haul in younger backs Robert Turbin and Christine Michael. When offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell recently said that the Seahawks would roll with a committee of backs, that could have been a way of tweaking Lynch into showing up for this week's mandatory activities ... or it could indeed be where the team is headed.
Carroll refused to disclose anything Lynch has said to him about his contract, or any alleged retirement rumors, or anything else related to "the business of it." Perhaps more importantly, Carroll -- as is his wont -- didn't seem to take that absence personally. He's known that Lynch has an "interesting" personality for a long time, and he's more than happy to offset any attendant drama.
"People have a right to be themselves and to be who they are -- respecting that, and taking them for who they are. I do regard the uniqueness, and the special qualities that people have in them, maybe more openly than I have in years past. I'm just looking for guys who have a way about them, and a knack, or a mentality, or an edge about them. I just try to take it for what it is, and appreciate it for what it is, and see if it fits into our club."
Certainly, since he arrived in a trade with the Bills in 2010, Lynch has done as much as any player to personify the combination of rogue personality and on-field toughness that Carroll prefers. That may be why Lynch is getting the benefit of the doubt where other players might not.
"He sends the message," Carroll said of Lynch. "There's more than one aspect to being a physical team. It starts with our defense, and the style of play we've always stood for. Our special teams are very aggressive and tough. And when you have that on the offensive side of the ball, that's because you have a running game, and that closes the circle of toughness for your club. Marshawn is a perfect example of that -- he's always stood for it. I've always loves his style and the whole 'Beast [Mode]' thing. That stuff is awesome, and we love it, and he doesn't disappoint you."
We'll see if Lynch disappoints -- or is disappointed -- when the game gets real again and money matters are discussed with more severity.