Marshawn Lynch: What to make of his back

The latest Fantasy Focus Football podcast featuring Matthew Berry and Stephania Bell could inform your NFC West Gridiron Challenge decisions.

It might not make you feel much better about drafting Marshawn Lynch.

That is because Lynch heads into the 2012 regular season suffering from an ailment that tends to be unpredictable and recurring: back spasms. Spasms kept him from playing against Cleveland last season. They bothered him some while with Buffalo in 2008. The 2007 NFL draft preview from Pro Football Weekly alluded to "nagging" back issues for Lynch during the 2006 college season, although ankle injuries were a bigger problem.

Part of a developing pattern, or no big deal?

Lynch started 15 games last season. He's missed only one game over the past two seasons combined. He hopes to play Sunday at Arizona.

Bell, ESPN's injury expert, offered initial thoughts on Lynch's situation at the 28:39 mark of the podcast linked in the first sentence of this entry. I followed up with her over the phone Thursday and these were her thoughts:

"The term 'back spasms' is broad. We're parsing words, but if it truly is a muscle spasm, it is protective. By that, I mean, when you try to move, you get more pain and spasms. It trying to keep your body from moving into positions that would aggravate the condition.

"You don't just walk down the street and ding, spasms. It's usually in response to something. You could have direct damage to the muscle tissue if you took a helmet to the back, but usually, it's protective and the most common thing is you have some kind of disc issue going on. We do not know if that is the case with Lynch. There is too little information.

"You can't just go out and run or play with spasms. Even if this is behind him in a few days, it makes you think this could crop up again. It's unpredictable."

Lynch participated in the Seahawks' walk-through session Wednesday. He did not participate in the full practice. We'll want to see whether he makes enough progress Thursday to participate in the full practice.