Why Seattle Seahawks Must Have Marshawn Lynch Healthy in 2012

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Why Seattle Seahawks Must Have Marshawn Lynch Healthy in 2012
Joe Nicholson-US PRESSWIRE

The Seattle Seahawks may enter the 2012 regular season with more than just a rookie quarterback starting in their offensive backfield. 

ESPN's Adam Schefter reported Tuesday that Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch is continuing to battle back spasms and could miss Seattle's 2012 opener in Arizona against the Cardinals. 

UPDATE: Darren Urban of the Cardinals' official website quoted Pete Carroll as saying Lynch looked good in a pre-practice walkthrough Wednesday. They are taking his situation "one day at a time."

Lynch has been sitting out of Seahawks practice for the better part of two weeks while dealing with a back problem. If he can't go by Sunday, Seattle will be forced to start rookie running back Robert Turbin, a fourth-round pick out of Utah State. 

The Seahawks are already rolling with third-round pick Russell Wilson as the team's starting quarterback in Week 1. 

By all accounts, however, both Turbin and Wilson have been rookie standouts at Seahawks camp this summer. 

Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images
Turbin is a capable backup in the short term.

A decisive, one-cut runner with a wide frame at 5'10" and 225 pounds, Turbin has rightfully won the Seahawks' backup running back title. He rushed for a team-high 165 yards and one score during three preseason games.

Wilson took the 2012 preseason by storm, forcing head coach Pete Carroll's hand with a dazzling display of effectiveness over four exhibition games. 

But here's the kicker: No team in the last 15 years has made the playoffs with a rookie quarterback and running back starting more than 75 percent of the team's games. 

The Seahawks certainly possess a roster that looks primed to make a serious run at the postseason in 2012. But in all likelihood, they'll need Lynch back and healthy at some point this season to pull it off. 

Again, this is nothing against Turbin, who looks like a potential battering ram of a backup. 

There's also no report out there that says Lynch will miss any games, much less 75 percent of the 2012 season. But this back issue is starting to become more chronic for Lynch, and you have to wonder how limited he'll be throughout this season if the flare-ups continue. 

Since coming to Seattle, Lynch has dealt with at least two occurrences of the same back ailment. He also missed a game in 2011 after his back tightened up during a pre-game workout. 

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The Seahawks will cross their fingers it isn't something that will continue to linger, even if the general feeling around the situation is that the position is in capable hands with Turbin. 

People have seemed to forget that Lynch carried this offense at times in 2011, racking up over 1,200 rushing yards in 15 starts. He scored 13 total touchdowns and averaged almost 95 total yards a game. 

Most would consider Lynch a top-10 NFL back heading into the 2012 season.

But more generally, Lynch provides a veteran, steadying presence—something Wilson could surely use as he embarks on his first season as an NFL starting quarterback. 

Who knows what could happen in a big-game setting with two rookies manning the backfield.

When the Green Bay Packers travel to the Pacific Northwest in Week 3, Seattle wants Wilson and Lynch on the field, healthy. Same goes for a Week 7 trip to Candlestick Park, an early tone-setting game in the NFC West title race. 

As of now, Lynch's injury appears to be a one- or two-week deal, at the most. But back injuries like these have a tendency to linger. 

This is a football team that needs him healthy for most of this season to make a serious run at the playoffs. Losing him for a significant stretch in 2012 would put a dent in the Seahawks' promising hopes for the postseason. 

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