By Chris Cluff
When the Buffalo Bills made C.J. Spiller the ninth pick in the draft in 2010, it was obvious someone had to go in a suddenly crowded backfield that already included Fred Jackson and Marshawn Lynch. Lynch, who was the 12th pick overall by the Bills in 2007, seemed like the obvious candidate after wearing out his welcome after a few run-ins with the law in New York.
The Seahawks, who might have considered Spiller if they hadn’t desperately needed left tackle Russell Okung with the sixth overall pick, were interested in acquiring Lynch almost immediately. But Buffalo balked in April. They declined again in August. But they finally buckled in October, sending Lynch to Seattle for what turned out to be a fourth-rounder and fifth-rounder. It was draft capital well spent by the Seahawks, who will showcase Lynch when the teams meet Sunday in Toronto.
While Spiller has been in a timeshare with Jackson (now on IR) the last three seasons, Lynch has become the Seahawks’ bellcow back, rushing for 3,043 yards and 27 touchdowns in 40 games. He has 1,266 yards and nine touchdowns this season and is coming off a big game against Arizona in which he ran for 128 yards and three touchdowns on just 11 carries.
“I think the thing that comes to mind is his consistency,” coach Pete Carroll told reporters, per The Seattle Times. “He has been very consistent with his output and his effort and his style. Everything has been there every single game.
He has missed just one game in two seasons and has played through back spasms throughout this season, typically sitting out practices early in the week and ramping up to game day.
“He has been healthy,” Carroll said. “We have managed him well during the week, and he has come out fast and sharp really every single time we’ve shown up. I don’t know if other years, other places how he was with his health, that has been a great boost for him this year.”
Will Rice finally miss a game?
Sidney Rice’s availability last week was in doubt early in the week after he got hit hard on the winning touchdown against Chicago, but he was cleared and remained the only receiver on the team to start every game. That streak could be in danger of ending this week, though, as Rice has a foot injury and is in a walking boot.
“He’s improved quite a bit since game day, in the last couple days, but he’s got a pretty sore foot, so we don’t know,” Carroll said, per the Times. “He’s got the X-rays and MRIs and all of that, and the findings are nothing that would keep him from playing. He just has to get back; he feels very sore right now.”
Injured vets seem replaceable
Leroy Hill and Marcus Trufant are probably going to lament the injuries that gave younger players chances to take their jobs. Hill has missed the last two games with a sprained ankle, and second-year linebacker Malcolm Smith has played well enough that they will split time in practice this week. Carroll, who coached Smith at USC before drafting him in the seventh round last year, said Smith is playing the best he has since Carroll started coaching him.
“He kind of has a nose for the football. Things happen when he’s around it,” Carroll said of Smith, who scored on a muffed punt against Arizona.
Trufant (hamstring) still seems to be questionable. He did not practice Wednesday. Carroll was impressed with the young cornerbacks — Walter Thurmond, Byron Maxwell and Jeremy Lane — who filled in for the suspended Brandon Browner and Trufant against Arizona.
“For the first time out … I was really fired up about it,” Carroll said. “(Maxwell and Lane) played well enough where I couldn’t tell the difference if one came out ahead of the other one. So that’s a really good sign for us.”
And potentially a bad sign for Trufant.
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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.