Carroll: 'We may get four or five guys back this week that are front-line players'

SEATTLE – To hear Pete Carroll tell it, the Seattle Seahawks could be a much better team next week.

MUCH better.

Carroll said during his weekly  press conference Monday that if things go according to plan, the Seahawks will welcome back a raft of key players next Sunday when they head to Minnesota to play the the Vikings in a wild-card game.

“We may get four or five guys back this week that are front-line players,” Carroll said. “And that just makes us stronger.”

That number includes offensive lineman Russell Okung, safety Kam Chancellor, tight end Luke Wilson – and, of course, running back Marshawn Lynch.

“He feels good now – that’s why he’d back,” Carroll said. “He wouldn’t be here if he didn’t feel like he could go.

“He’s an extraordinary member of this team and always has been. He’s been a lead dog here for a long time.”

Carroll said the coaches expect Lynch will be able to carry the ball 20 or more times after going through a rigorous rehab program with private coaches in the Bay Area following abdominal surgery at the end of November.

“This is similar to the first game of the year, really,” Carroll said. “We don’t have any different expectations than that and we’re going into it with the same thought.”

Carroll said  the team has a “pretty optimistic outlook” on its other injured players as well.

He also said the coaching staff makes almost nothing out of the fact they were handed a 10 a.m. start next Sunday despite being the only West Coast team playing this weekend. Many fans and some in the media felt Seattle should’ve been scheduled for an afternoon or evening start time.

Carroll pointed out that the team begins its training camp sessions at 10 a.m.

“You’re gonna make an issue about it and you won’t be the only ones,” he said.

“We’ve already dealt with this. We practice the entire camp at 10 a.m., every day. Our guys are earlier risers.”

Carroll said he was pleased his team got a decisive win over the Arizona Cardinals in Sunday’s regular-season finale – and said the Seahawks were actively trying put forth a dominant defensive effort in order to ensure they’d be the NFL’s stingiest scoring defense for a modern-day record fourth season in a row.

“This win was about momentum,” he said. “You guys ask, ‘do you need it?’ Well, you want it if you can get it.

We knew in the fourth quarter that we were trying to protect that score thing. That was a good accomplishment.”