ALAMEDA — The Raiders will be without running back Marshawn Lynch for at least a month and it remains to be seen if he’s played his last down for his hometown team.
Lynch sustained a groin injury in a 27-3 loss to the Seattle Seahawks in London. Coach Jon Gruden said Tuesday the running back was injured, the severity was not determined, and the Raiders were still gathering information. A team source confirmed an NFL Network report Friday that the news from an MRI was not good and that Lynch would miss considerable time.
It’s conceivable Lynch could go on the injured reserve list, and if that’s the case, the Raiders portion of his career may be over. Lynch, 32, leads the Raiders with 376 yards rushing on 90 carries through five games and is averaging 4.2 yards per carry with three touchdowns.
In the final year of a two-year contract signed after he was acquired from Seattle, Lynch restructured this deal to save the Raiders some salary cap space and stands to lose undisclosed incentives which were increased from $2 million to $3.75 million, according to overthecap.com. His salary cap charge this season is $4,453,125.
Lynch had 300 yards rushing through four games, tailing off to 76 yards on 22 attempts in the Raiders’ last two games as they fell behind and were forced to abandon the run. Lynch, who starred in high school at Oakland Tech and in college at Cal, came out of a one-year retirement specifically to play in his hometown before the franchise left for Las Vegas.
Being placed on I.R. would mean a prolonged absence. Only two players are allowed to come off injured reserve. Current candidates to return include defensive tackle Justin Ellis and offensive tackle Donald Penn.
If Lynch is placed on I.R., he would miss a minimum of six weeks, meaning the earliest he could return would be Dec. 9 against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Considering where the Raiders might be in terms of won-loss record, only Lynch knows if he would even want to come back and play for a team that currently appears to be headed for double-digit losses.
For the next four games against Indianapolis, the 49ers, the Los Angeles Chargers and Arizona Cardinals, the role of lead back will likely fall on Doug Martin, the former Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back who signed as an unrestricted free agent.
It could also mean an expanded ball-carrying role for Jalen Richard, who has primarily been used as a receiver and a third-down back. Also on the roster is third-year player DeAndre Washington, who has been inactive and yet to carry the ball this season.
Chris Warren III, an undrafted rookie who led the Raiders in the preseason with 292 yards rushing, was placed on injured reserve at the start of the regular season and is not eligible to return because he was not on the original 53-man roster.
Martin, 29, has 99 yards on 27 carries, averaging 3.7 yards per attempt. He was one of Gruden’s early signings in free agency, but took a back seat to Lynch as the veteran known as “Beast Mode” was playing at the level he had with Seattle in terms of gaining steady yards and breaking tackles.