Five Takeaways from Pete Carroll's mid-week press conference:
Lynch, of course, missed last week against the Lions and barely played a week earlier against the Bears due to leg injuries, including a strained hamstring that required an MRI. Without him this season, the league's most dominant running game a year ago has slipped to just an average unit. A re-shuffled offensive line whose unfamiliarity with backups Thomas Rawls and Fred Jackson are each partly to blame. The running game, of course, is the most obvious area in which Lynch's absence has hurt the Seahawks the past two weeks but don't discount his impact in the passing game. Not only is Lynch an underrated blocker and receiver, pass rushers can pin their ears back after Russell Wilson when they know they won't have to turn around to pursue and gang-tackle Lynch. Clearly, Carroll would love to have his star runner back against the Bengals. That, however, has yet to be determined.
"We're going day-to-day on this thing, and it will take us all the way to the end of the week before we know," Carroll said when asked about whether Lynch could make it back for the Bengals on Sunday. "He did make a lot of progress last week, and was able to run around some and all that. He's worked really hard at it so we'll see if we can get it done."
4. Fortunately, Brandon Mebane should be back
Getting Lynch back would greatly enhance Seattle's offense but don't mistake the Seahawks strong defensive play the past two weeks as evidence that the club doesn't need its best run-stuffer, Mebane. Along with the Packers, the Bengals are one of the toughest teams the Seahawks will face this season and a big part of that is their multi-look running game, which scored four touchdowns on the ground last week. Part of the reason the Seahawks couldn't get to Matthew Stafford a week ago was because the defensive line didn't have its normal rotation and breaks.
"I think he's going to make it back," Carroll said when asked about Mebane's availability for Sunday's early game (10 am Pacific). "He's ready to go, and just about made it for game time last week. He looks good, it's still going to be a day-to-day because once he works, we have to see how he recovers from it, but I'm pretty hopeful that he'll make it back."
3. Marcus Burley is undergoing thumb surgery Thursday
Burley broke his thumb against the Bears, Carroll confirmed and will undergo surgery Thursday (October 8). Carroll did not specify when Seattle's "starting" nickel corner would be able to return. Burley was coming off a terrific game against the Packers and their star slot receiver Randall Cobb. If Burley is out for any length of time, versatile defensive back DeShawn Shead will likely be again asked to move back to cornerback with Tharold Simon still out. Carroll was hopeful that defensive lineman Demarcus Dobbs and outside linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis would be able to play this week.
"He is going to get operated on [October 8], and we'll find out what that means. There's a chance that it's a very quick recovery, and so we'll see how that goes. It depends on what happens in the surgery."
2. Carroll sings the praises of rookie Tyler Lockett
Given Lockett's dynamic play on special teams and the growing trust Russell Wilson is showing in him as a receiver, perhaps it isn't surprising that the excitable Carroll is fawning over his prized rookie. Carroll's comments about Lockett, however, seem to be far from just coach-speak. Carroll doesn't just gush about Lockett's talent but his work ethic - which Carroll characterized as the best on the team.
"He's a natural catcher, he's a very instinctive football player, he has a natural since for how things go and movement and space and all of that," Carroll said when asked what made Lockett special. "You can imagine, he was a great point guard, he can play baseball, he could do everything. He's an all-around athlete that can really do about anything you'd want. So all of that adds together with extraordinary speed. He also, because of his size has got great quickness and change of direction. So you put all that together he's really a terrific athlete, and he works at it really hard too. He's the hardest working guy we have here, he's staying late and getting out there early."
1. Don't expect panic along the offensive line
As of Wednesday night, all indications were that the Seahawks would be starting the same five offensive linemen against the Bengals as we've seen over the first four games with Russell Okung at left tackle, Justin Britt at left guard, Drew Nowak manning the center spot, J.R. Sweezy at right guard and Garry Gilliam to his right at tackle. After some inaccurate shotgun snaps a week ago, Nowak could be on thin ice with veteran Patrick Lewis -- a successful fill-in a year ago while then-Seahawks Max Unger was injured - just waiting for an opportunity. Valuable swingman Alvin Bailey also could see more action against the Bengals.
Carroll sounded wary of the Bengals front and he certainly recognizes as well as anyone that the Seahawks can't continue to allow this many his on Wilson and maintain Super Bowl expectations. Growing pains are to be expected with 3/5 of the offensive line different and your star running back sidelined, which is why Carroll disagreed with the notion that Seattle's offensive line had regressed so far.
"No I don't think so at all, I think this is all just putting money in the bank and trying to figure it out, and getting where we can use the experiences that we've had effectively." Carroll said. "It takes a while. There's some things that they saw again for the first time that an experienced group might be able to identify a little bit quicker and adjust a little bit sooner. It's just part of it, and we're just growing through it."