Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 7/20/12

Because of several technicalities involving the NFL's various policies against off-field indiscretions, there remains some murkiness about how the league can proceed with any sanctions against Seattle tailback Marshawn Lynch, who was arrested early Saturday morning on suspicion of DUI, then formally charged on Wednesday.

This much, though, is crystal clear: The effect of a suspension of any length against the five-year veteran is apt to play a role in the performance of the Seattle starting quarterback for 2012.

No matter who that is.

Somewhat overshadowed in Lynch's battle against California law enforcement (he was arrested near his home in Oakland) and potential status with the league -- and deservedly so, given the gravity of the matter, and the contention of the running back and his attorney that he wasn't impaired -- is the trickle-down impact that his absence would have on the Seahawks' quarterback position.

Not necessarily on the competition for the starting job, but on the performance at the position.

Remember, coach Pete Carroll has said that the Seahawks will have a three-way training camp slug-out for the top job, among incumbent Tarvaris Jackson, high profile unrestricted free agent acquisition Matt Flynn and rookie third-rounder Russell Wilson. No matter how much one agrees or disagrees with Carroll's strategy of equally divvying up the camp snaps among the three -- and many feel that approach is shortsighted -- the matter of Lynch's importance to the eventual winner of the competition is hardly debatable.

"(Lynch) is such a big part of our offense," noted one Seattle lineman this week. "If he's not on the field, someone is going to have to step up big-time."

The inference of the lineman was two-fold: That the person who would likely have to raise his game would be the team's quarterback. And that none of the contenders for the job is likely capable of carrying the offense if Lynch isn't around.

Jackson started 14 games in 2011, hasn't progressed much despite playing with the same offensive coordinator (Darrell Bevell) in stints with Minnesota and Seattle, and might be best suited over the long haul, to being a career backup. Flynn logged just two starts in four seasons in Green Bay. Wilson is an intriguing prospect who was able to overcome his physical liabilities at North Carolina State and Wisconsin, but isn't even 5-feet-11, and many in the NFL feel the Seahawks reached for him in the third round, with the 75th overall selection.

Some teams might be able to compensate for the loss of Lynch for a few games, if he is suspended, but he's nearly irreplaceable in the Seattle offense. The Seahawks, and by extension, the team's quarterback, are far better with Lynch in the lineup.

Lynch and Jackson started 14 games together last season, and Lynch had more rushes than the quarterback had completions in nine of them. Heck, in three of the games, Lynch registered more rushing attempts than Jackson did passing attempts. In one game, he was within 10 yards of Jackson's passing total.

And it's not as if the Seahawks have ready replacements. There are four other running backs on the roster, and Leon Washington is the most experienced. But Washington, one of the NFL's premier return specialists, but probably unable to serve as an every-down back, has started only 14 career games. And he hasn't started more than four contests since 2007. The presumptive starter if Lynch is suspended is Robert Turbin, and he's a rookie fourth-round pick from Utah State, who demonstrated some toughness in spring workouts, but is still untested in regular-season play.

And so Seattle officials, one team executive allowed this week, "are holding (our) breath over the whole (Lynch) thing." So, too, likely are the candidates for the starting quarterback job.

A former first-round pick in Buffalo (2007), who was traded to the Seahawks in 2010, Lynch has described his running style as "beast mode" at times. Without him in the lineup, Seattle could face some quarterback play that is downright beastly.

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