It’s a good thing the Seahawks’ offensive line is healthy and ready to go, because the rest of the offense is a mishmash unit.
The biggest concerns are receiver Golden Tate, who suffered a sprained knee during garbage time in the fourth preseason game, and running back Marshawn Lynch, who missed the final two preseason games with back spasms. Tate will not play in the opener at Arizona, and Lynch is listed as questionable.
Lynch practiced for a second straight day on Friday, but coach Pete Carroll said the running back would be a game-time decision.
“He made it through all of the work,” Carroll told reporters, per The News Tribune. “He looks good, but it’s still day-to-day. We’ve got to see how he responds (Saturday), so it takes us all the way to game time to make sure everything is all right. But he did do well during the week.”
If Lynch cannot go, rookie Robert Turbin would figure to get the lion’s share of the carries, with help from veterans Leon Washington and Kregg Lumpkin.
On Wednesday, Carroll told reporters, “Right now, Turbin will take all of the first-team snaps and get us ready. We’ll be prepared to rotate our guys just like we always do. And Lump will be ready to go if we need him, too.”
Turbin played well in the preseason behind a line that has picked up right where it left off last season, even though it has a rookie at right guard. Turbin carried 38 times for 165 yards (4.3 per carry) and a touchdown in the preseason. His best game was No. 3 at Kansas City, when he ran for 93 yards on 14 attempts and scored on a 25-yard burst.
He got better as the preseason advanced and seems quite capable of carrying the load, at least short term, if Lynch is sidelined.
Lynch played in only one preseason game, gaining 32 yards on five carries in Denver, before the back spasms put him out.
While Tate is out and Lynch is in doubt, the Seahawks got good news about receiver Doug Baldwin, who will play after missing the entire preseason with a hamstring injury.
“It’s been a long time coming, but I definitely feel a lot better,” he told Seahawks.com’s Clare Farnsworth, who reported that Baldwin has quickly rediscovered chemistry with rookie quarterback Russell Wilson.
“A lot of people, they harp on the rapport with the quarterback,” Baldwin said. “But if you’re in the meeting room and if you’re communicating and you’re watching film together — that timing stuff – that’s all resonated in verbiage. So when I get out there, he has a sense of what I’m going to do.”
Wilson told Farnsworth, “Doug’s done a great job. I’ve thrown with him a lot during the summer and during his off time. We threw this weekend some, so that helps get the chemistry back between me and him.”
Braylon Edwards will start in place of Tate, who could be back next week. The other starter is Sidney Rice, who is not listed on the injury report even though he was redshirted for much of camp after coming off two shoulder surgeries.
Safety Kam Chancellor and defensive lineman Jason Jones, who both sat out much of the preseason, are not listed on the injury report, so the assumption is that both will play.
As for the rest of the report: Backup QB Matt Flynn, who has been hindered by a sore elbow for a couple of weeks, is probable; cornerback Byron Maxwell (shoulder) is listed as doubtful; defensive end Greg Scruggs (hamstring) and offensive lineman James Carpenter (knee) will join Tate on the sideline.
Carpenter, who is coming off an ACL injury, returned to practice Monday for the first time since December.
Because he was ready to practice, the Seahawks decided against leaving him on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list for the first six weeks of the season and made him part of the 53-man roster instead.
He is working his way back in individual work with offensive line coach Tom Cable.
“There’s a process that’s just starting,” Cable told the TNT. “So when you talk about playing the game and all of that, first you’ve got to figure out where he’s at. He’s been approved from the medical standpoint, but he hasn’t played any football. So there’s six weeks that the players have had, but he’s had none of that. And so that process has now started for him.”
Guard John Moffitt, who had elbow surgery last month, returned in time to play with the second unit in the fourth preseason game, against Oakland. He will back up rookie right guard J.R. Sweezy.
The full injury report:
OUT: WR Golden Tate (knee), DE Greg Scruggs (hamstring) and G James Carpenter (knee).
DOUBTFUL: CB Byron Maxwell (shoulder).
QUESTIONABLE: RB Marshawn Lynch (back).
PROBABLE: QB Matt Flynn (elbow).
PUP: CB Walter Thurmond (legs).
IR: DE Dexter Davis (hip), LB Matt McCoy (knee), TE Cameron Morrah (toe), RB Vai Tuau (knee).
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Chris Cluff worked as a sports editor and writer for The Seattle Times for 11 years and has written two books on the Seattle Seahawks. Since leaving the Times, he has written about the Seahawks and Seattle sports for Bleacher Report and the blog he shares with a fellow sportswriter, outsidethepressbox.com. His work can be found on Examiner.com.