Marshawn Lynch has every reason to talk.
The Seattle Seahawks running back is currently the No. 2 rusher in the NFL, trailing only Adrian Peterson. He's already set a new career high with 1,266 yards rushing through 13 games and needs just three more rushing touchdowns to match his career best of 12 from last season.
And his past and present collide this week when the Seahawks travel to Toronto to face Lynch's former team, the Buffalo Bills.
Yet with all those reasons for Lynch to chat about his season or playing his old team, his response Wednesday when asked if had a few minutes was a simple, "Nah, I'm good."
"Marshawn is a football player. He's just like, 'Who are we playing? All right, let's go play,'" Seattle fullback Michael Robinson said. "That's the type of guy he is and you need guys like that on your team. You don't want guys thinking too much."
Lynch is coming off a performance last week against Arizona that in some ways was a career-best. His three touchdowns rushing tied the top mark in his career. Lynch played just two quarters plus the first series of the second half and finished with a season-high 128 yards on just 11 carries, averaging a career-best 11.6 yards per attempt.
He's now topped 100 yards seven times this season and could be looking at a second straight trip to the Pro Bowl.
And perhaps more than ever, with the Seahawks on the cusp of a playoff berth and possibly still in contention for the NFC West title, it's apparent that the decision to acquire Lynch from Buffalo via trade early in the 2010 season is probably the most important player transaction coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider have made in rebuilding the Seahawks' roster.
"When you build your philosophy about running the football and with an attitude and toughness and all of that, he's a key addition. That's why we stayed with it so long. As we've watched the three years that he has been the factor that we needed," Carroll said. "Fortunately, with the quarterback situation coming around with both of our guys, that's in good shape and that's the most crucial spot, but I don't know if anything is more symbolic than what we've done with Marshawn and him playing the way he plays and the guy that he is."
When Lynch was traded from Buffalo early in the 2010 season, he needed the change. Lynch had been seeking a fresh start after his reputation in Buffalo took a hit following his off-field troubles that included a June 2008 traffic violation where he struck a female pedestrian with his car and a guilty plea on a March 2009 misdemeanor gun charge in Los Angeles. Police discovered a semiautomatic handgun in a backpack in the trunk of a parked car Lynch was sitting in. The gun charge resulted in a three-game league suspension.
Until this past summer, Lynch had been a model citizen off the field in Seattle. But he was arrested and charged with driving under the influence near his hometown of Oakland, Calif., in July. His case is still pending in California.
But on the field, the Seahawks have no complaints with what their workhorse has done. The quest to get Lynch via trade was something Carroll started during the 2010 offseason in the hopes a deal could get done. He joked Wednesday that Schneider repeatedly called the Bills on Carroll's behalf eventually led to the deal getting done.
Seattle's running game stumbled initially with Lynch — minus his memorable tremor-causing run in the 2010 playoffs against New Orleans — but finally clicked midway through last season. Lynch was the most productive back in the NFL over the final half of the 2011 season.
That success carried over into this year from the start. And finding that success was significant with Seattle breaking in rookie quarterback Russell Wilson.
"I think offensively we knew our identity coming into the season as opposed to last year trying to gather that identity as the season went on," Robinson said.
Lynch is on pace to finish with more than 1,550 yards for the season. He would become just the third different running back in Seahawks history to top the 1,500-yard mark. Shaun Alexander did it twice, including his franchise record 1,880 yards in 2005, and Chris Warren did it once.
"This is what we had hoped," Carroll said. "We hoped that he would be a big-timer and we could make him fit in and feel comfortable and like his surroundings and really contribute in a big way. He has done everything. He's done everything we have asked of him."
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