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Originally published Wednesday, October 20, 2010 at 10:00 PM

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Running backs are Seahawks' Odd Couple

Marshawn Lynch and Justin Forsett, former teammates at Cal, are back together in the Seahawks' backfield, sharing carries and a deep friendship.

Seattle Times staff reporter

RENTON — It wasn't the first time Marshawn Lynch wore a suit.

It was just the second such occasion, though. So when Lynch donned a tie and jacket to stand as one of Justin Forsett's groomsmen at his wedding this summer it was just one more example of a friendship that is as deep as it is unlikely.

"We weren't going to let him wear his tennis shoes," Forsett said.

Two players at the same position, they found camaraderie where others would have seen a competitive threat. Two people whose personalities are as different as their hairstyles, they are reunited in the Seahawks' backfield six years after they first met as incoming freshmen at California.

"Batman and Robin," said Kevin Parker, Cal recruiting assistant.

Lynch is from the Bay Area with dreadlocks that drape down almost to his shoulders and a running style that he refers to as Beast Mode.

Forsett is from Florida by way of Texas, his hair cropped close. He's so religious that he operates closer to priest mode, posting a nightly scripture verse via his Twitter account.

Lynch has a Technicolor personality. Forsett is so quiet there are times you don't know he's in the room. Yet they share a friendship that is strengthened by those differences.

"That's what makes for interesting conversations," Forsett said.

Even their playing styles are compatible, Lynch the physical, downhill runner who is like a powerful jab, hitting the defense repeatedly and setting up Forsett to deliver the cat-quick hook.

They entered Cal together in 2004, each thinking they might be the only running back in the Golden Bears' recruiting class. Lynch, the local product, didn't know Forsett had been recruited until he showed up on campus. Forsett had committed to Cal only after Notre Dame pulled its scholarship offer at the last minute, and he didn't know Lynch had been OK'd to enroll until after arriving.

The two set aside their rivalry and found a friendship.

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"We just hit it off right then and there," Lynch said.

It's something that is truly remarkable in a game where the idea of competition extends beyond the three-hour weekly game. Opportunities are finite, and one carry that another player at that same position gets is one chance less for you.

But that has never been the case for these two. Not in college. Not now.

"Those two men are never going to hold back or step on each other's toes," said Parker, who remains close to both players.

Why is that?

"That's because we've got the same goal in mind," Lynch said. "I think that only becomes a problem if you've got a player who puts more 'me' in front of the team.

"Me and Justin have never been that type of player."

Lynch left Cal a year early, entering the NFL as a first-round pick. Forsett was a seventh-round selection in 2008, and this year he won the offseason competition to start at running back.

That changed when the Seahawks traded for Lynch. Yet Forsett applauded the addition that would ultimately cost him some carries.

"We're both going to get our opportunities," Forsett said. "We respect each other's game, and we want each other to do well."

That's exactly what happened in their first game as NFL teammates. Lynch started off strong, setting a tone and gaining 25 yards on his first four carries in Chicago.

And while Forsett's workload was lessened — carrying only 10 times, he finished with a season-high 67 yards — the Bears softened up for his shiftier, elusive style.

They are the Seahawks' new "Odd Couple," two friends whose differences haven't gotten in the way of a friendship and two teammates who've found success working together.

Notes

• CB Kelly Jennings (hamstring) did not practice Wednesday after leaving Sunday's game with an injury. Walter Thurmond worked with the first-unit defense in his absence. LB Dexter Davis (hamstring) also sat out practice.

• DT Brandon Mebane (calf) missed practice after he was unable to play in Sunday's game. Mebane also missed a game last year because of a calf injury.

Danny O'Neil: 206-464-2364 or doneil@seattletimes.com

Rush hour
Seahawks running backs Marshawn Lynch and Justin Forsett, teammates at Cal, rank 2-3 in career rushing yards at the school.
Player, years Att Yds Avg
1. Russell White, 1990-92 663 3,367 5.1
2. Marshawn Lynch, 2004-06 490 3,230 6.6
3. Justin Forsett, 2004-07 567 3,220 5.7

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