Lynch underwent surgery Wednesday to repair an injury related to a sports hernia and will be sidelined for at least three or four weeks. But that is the best-case scenario on the recovery and there is a chance that Lynch will miss the remainder of the regular season.
Seattle is hopeful that Lynch will return at some point and will keep the bruising running back on the active roster. But Seattle's playoff hopes will now be carried by rookie Thomas Rawls.
"The doctor projected that he could get back pretty quickly," coach Pete Carroll said. "They fixed everything that was wrong and the doctor was very optimistic about his return."
Lynch consulted with Dr. William Meyers in Philadelphia and the surgery was the final option to correct an abdominal injury that had bothered Lynch for weeks. Lynch first showed up on the injury report with the abdominal problem on Nov. 13, two days before the Seahawks faced Arizona. He played against the Cardinals and Carroll said the injury got worse as the game went on, but the team was optimistic Lynch would be able to play last Sunday against San Francisco.
Instead, Lynch felt he lacked the explosiveness needed to be able to play and was inactive against the 49ers.
"It wasn't reacting the way he needed it to, to go out there and play in the game. Just talked to him about how it was one of the hardest decisions he had to make was not playing," fellow running back Fred Jackson said. "Obviously anybody that wants to be out there competing on the field when you can't do what you want to do and your body is not reacting the way you want it to, that's one of the hardest decisions you have to make."
Meyers has performed similar surgeries on the likes of Adrian Peterson and Seattle Mariners second baseman Robinson Cano. Lynch will remain on the East Coast recovering for several days before returning to the team. The most optimistic of recovery timetables wouldn't get Lynch back until Week 16 against St. Louis. More realistic would be a return if Seattle can make the playoffs.
When Lynch does return, Carroll said he'll move back into the starting role.
"We think so. Let's see how much we get a chance to work Thomas and see how (Lynch) returns," Carroll said. "We might be able to bring him back on a temporary basis. We'll just wait and see. Of course he's the guy we would lean on."
Lynch missed 2½ games earlier this season with a hamstring injury, but has been mostly healthy in his time with the Seahawks. Since arriving via trade early in the 2010 season, Lynch had missed just one game due to injury prior to this year.
With Lynch sidelined, the Seahawks have turned to Rawls. The undrafted rookie from Central Michigan has shown signs of potentially being Lynch's replacement in the future with a bruising running style similar to Lynch's.
Last week, Rawls rushed for 209 yards and had two total touchdowns in the victory over San Francisco. It was the second-best rushing game in Seahawks history, trailing only Shaun Alexander's 266 yards in 2001. Rawls became the first rookie in league history with 250 or more yards from scrimmage, one touchdown rushing and one touchdown receiving in the same game.
Now Seattle will be pinning its run game, and some of its playoff hopes, on the rookie possibly for the final six games of the season.
"He's done very well and been consistent. Whenever he's been given a real good shot, he's come through in a big way," Carroll said.
NOTES: Carroll said C Patrick Lewis (ankle) and WR Doug Baldwin (ankle) should be able to play this week. ... Carroll did not say who would start at cornerback after Cary Williams was benched last week. Either Williams or DeShawn Shead will likely start opposite Richard Sherman.