After talk of his potential trade to the Seahawks circulated for months, Marshawn Lynch was pumped to finally practice with his new team for the first time on Wednesday.
A coast-to-coast flight. A new team, and teammates. A “new” – but familiar and comfortable – number.
That, in a nutshell, was the 24-hour period that began Tuesday afternoon in Buffalo and morphed into Wednesday afternoon on the Seahawks’ practice field for Marshawn Lynch. The versatile running back who was acquired in a trade with the Bills on Tuesday practiced with his new team on Wednesday.
Lynch admitted to being a bit tired and even leg weary.
“I feel like I left my legs on the plane” he said through a smile.
It was difficult to tell, however, as he displayed his power while running inside, his speed in getting outside and his versatility in catching passes out of the backfield.
“I felt pretty good because I’m out on the football field, and that’s one of the most comfortable places I’ll be,” he said of his first practice – but the last for his new team during its bye week.
Lynch also was feeling good about being back on the West Coast, because he’s from Oakland and played his college ball at Cal. He’s also being reunited with some old friends. Especially fellow running back Justin Forsett, but also his other former college teammates – defensive tackle Brandon Mebane, guard Mike Gibson and tight end Cameron Morrah.
“Justin Forsett is great, man,” said Lynch, who was a groomsman in Forsett’s wedding. “I couldn’t have asked for anything more.
“But being back out here, adjusting to the time (difference) is doing it all over again for me. That was something I had to do when I went back to Buffalo, so just working with that time thing will take some time.”
Lynch didn’t waste any time on Wednesday. He was one of the first players on the practice field, working with running backs coach Sherman Smith on some of the nuances in the Seahawks’ running game. He then put in some time with Smith and practice-squad quarterback Zac Robinson working on handoffs. When the players zipped through the bag drill that is a staple of every coach Pete Carroll practice, Lynch did it cradling a football in his right arm.
Once the drills began, Lynch displayed the array of talents that his new teammates had discussed on Tuesday: His power. His speed. His shiftiness. His acceleration. His versatility.
When Lynch was asked about the best part of his game, he smiled again before offering, “The strength of my game? Football. Period. Line me up anywhere on the field, I’m gonna get it done. And if I don’t, I’m gonna try.”
That will come soon enough. While the players are off for the next four days before returning on Monday to begin preparing for their Oct. 17 game against the Bears in Chicago, Lynch wasn’t quite sure how he would spend the bye weekend.
“The plan for me right now is I’m back on the West Coast in a new system, trying to get acclimated,” he said. “So I’ll probably hang around the facility, meet a few guys – the ones that stick around because it is a bye week.
“So I’ll just see how that goes. But I really haven’t thought about it too much. It really hasn’t set in on me yet.”
That’s because his trade to the Seahawks has been talked about for months. When it finally happened, Lynch heard about it in the Bills’ training room from Ryan Fitzpatrick, and he thought the team’s starting quarterback was kidding.
“I thought it was kind of a joke,” Lynch said. “As I was walking out, (Fitzpatrick goes) ‘Hey Marshawn. You’ve been traded.’ I said, ‘What?’ He said, ‘Man, I just looked on my phone.’ I said, ‘Oh, is that right?’ ”
Yes, it was. And while his role had been diminished last year with the emergence of Fred Jackson and this season with the arrival of first-round draft choice C.J. Spiller, the Seahawks have big plans for the big back they just acquired.
“He’s a big back, has great balance, is a tough, physical runner,” said Smith, the Seahawks’ original running back who is now coaching the position. “He is what we thought he was. For his first day, he worked real hard out there and we’re just going to try and get him ready.”
Smith first scouted Lynch when he was coming out of Cal in 2007, and Smith was then coaching for the Tennessee Titans.
“I remember working him out when the guy was in college, and was very impressed with the guy then,” Smith said. “To get a chance to coach him now, I’m excited about it.”
So is Lynch. Smith knows because the team’s newest player told him so.
“He’s excited about being here,” Smith said. “He is so excited about being here. This is something that’s been talked about for a while and for it to be a reality, he’s pumped.”
Asked how he could tell, Smith offered, “He said it: ‘I’m excited.’ He just said it: ‘I’m excited.’ ”
Then there was the No. 24 jersey Lynch was wearing after being No. 23 with the Bills.
“Ah, man. This isn’t a new number, man,” Lynch said, rubbing – no caressing – the 24 on his chest with both hands. “I just got reunited with it. I was 24 in college. So I just got reunited with it. That’s all.”