The Seahawks will face the Minnesota Vikings Sunday without Marshawn Lynch, who was downgraded from questionable to out Friday as he attempts to work his way back onto the field following abdominal surgery approximately two months ago.
Pete Carroll expressed concern during Friday's press conference that his star running back might not make it and those fears were confirmed a few hours later when Lynch reportedly informed the team that he simply was not yet ready to play.
"...He looked good during the week and did some really good stuff, but we'll just use all of the time that we have available," Carroll said when asked about Lynch being listed as questionable. "I have not said yet that he's playing, I know that's been out there, but I don't know until we finish the week..."
At least now Carroll and the Seahawks know.
Christine Michael is expected to resume the starting role with Lynch missing his eighth consecutive game. Bryce Brown and Fred Jackson are likely to continue their normal duties as change of pace backs in short yardage and passing situations.
Anticipating that Lynch could be limited, SeahawkFootball.com has tracked the practice habits of Michael, who previously might have dropped his intensity level with the expectation that he wouldn't be playing as much.
Michael has been praised as being more mature since his return to the roster and that growth has shown through this week, as well. Team sources indicated throughout the practice week and again Saturday morning that Michael's energy and focus were good, a very positive sign given that he's likely to earn the bulk of the workload Sunday.
"I think it's just been a process for him," Carroll said this week. "I think – and I'll throw this out at you – I think he's more humble than he was. I think he was really trying to be flashy and all of that. He's just come to work every day. He's really serious about fitting in, and it feels like he's matured in the sense that makes him a great candidate to play for us. We're really excited about him."
Of the trio, Jackson, a long-time member of the Buffalo Bills, has the most experience playing in frigid conditions like what is expected Sunday.
Even without Lynch (who didn't travel with the team to Minneapolis Friday night), the Seahawks are expected to continue the run-heavy strategy that has been critical to Seattle's back to back Super Bowl runs.
While Russell Wilson and the passing attack has taken off in Lynch's absence, the Vikings are a much more formidable defense now than they were in Week 13 when arguably their three best defenders were out with injuries of their own.