Lynch's status unclear headed into opener

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SEATTLE — Running back Marshawn Lynch doesn’t appear in danger of being suspended for Sunday’s regular-season opener at Arizona.

That doesn’t mean he’s certain to play, though, after sitting out the past two weeks of practice because of back spasms.

Confused about just what to expect about Seattle’s starting running back? That’s understandable, because Lynch’s status has been anything but straightforward since he was arrested and charged with DUI in California in July.

A DUI offense falls under the league’s substance-abuse policy, and a first-time offender can be expected to be fined as much as two game checks. Lynch was previously suspended for three games under the personal-conduct policy, and there was some question whether this arrest would subject him to the possibility of further discipline.

And while the NFL doesn’t announce that it won’t suspend a player, as a general guideline, the league tries to inform a team by Monday or Tuesday if a player is going to be suspended for the upcoming game. The fact that Tuesday passed without any declaration pointed to the expectation Lynch will be available for Sunday’s game.

But will he play?

That became a national topic of discussion Tuesday when Adam Schefter of ESPN reported Lynch “has experienced back spasms and team is uncertain whether he’ll be able to play Sunday vs. Arizona.”

And yes, it’s true that Lynch has experienced back spasms. It happened last year in Cleveland when his back tightened up during pregame warm-ups, forcing him miss the Seahawks’ 6-3 loss to the Browns.

He suffered back spasms following the Seahawks’ second exhibition game at Denver. He hasn’t practiced with the team since, just watching workouts, and didn’t appear in the final two exhibition games. Lynch was absent from the practice field entirely on Aug. 27, while getting treatment. Carroll was asked afterward if Lynch’s back was a long-term concern.

“We’ll have rested him a couple of weeks to make sure that he’s OK,” Carroll said. “So we’re taking care with this one. He has had back conditions kind of in the past. We’re just making sure we do the right thing and are taking all the time that’s available.”

Two days later, Carroll’s assessment was more certain.

“He took a real good turn this week,” Carroll said last Wednesday, the day before Seattle’s exhibition finale. “The rehab that he has been doing has really been effective, so we think he’s going to be fine.”

It’s possible something changed since then and Lynch suffered some sort of setback. There has been no report that was the case, however, and it’s possible that the sudden concern about Lynch’s availability is rooted in the fact that the rest of the country only this week looked up to realize Lynch hadn’t been practicing the past two weeks because of back spasms.

In either case, Lynch’s availability is certain to be addressed by Carroll during his news conference today as Seattle begins preparations for its regular-season opener. If Lynch were unable to play, rookie Robert Turbin likely would step in as the starter.

With no suspension announced, all signs point to Lynch being allowed to play Sunday. It remains to be seen if he will be able to.

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