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RENTON, Wash. (AP) — Even on the way to winning a Super Bowl with the Seattle Seahawks, running back Robert Turbin was never particularly satisfied with his role or production last season.
Turbin longed to be more than just a backup to Marshawn Lynch. He wanted to show what he could do if he was given a bigger opportunity to show his ability. A knee injury suffered during the year also limited his effectiveness and added to his frustration.
Now in his third season, Turbin has made peace with his role and has become a trusted option in Seattle's dynamic offense.
"I feel like I can be a starter and carry the ball 20 times, sure, but that's not my role," Turbin said. "Is it difficult to handle sometimes? Maybe. But at the end of the day, at least I have a role, and not everybody can say that. I think I was missing a little bit of that last year."
With just about everything going wrong for the Seahawks in a 30-21 loss to San Diego last week, Turbin helped keep Seattle in the game.
Trailing 20-7 late in the first half, Turbin was put in the game as a part of Seattle's two-minute offense. Turbin caught a pass from Russell Wilson for 32 yards, gained 10 more on a handoff and then scored his first career touchdown on a 3-yard pass from Wilson to close the gap to 20-14 before halftime.
"He's the best he's been for all the right reasons," head coach Pete Carroll said. "He's worked really hard. He's so dedicated to playing ball and being at his best."
Turbin has carved out a role as Seattle's two-minute back at the end of the first half. It allows the Seahawks to give Lynch an additional breather before halftime and still have confidence in their offense to move the football in his absence.
"What I like about him specifically is how much we can rely on him and how much we can count on him," offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said. "In any situation we put him in we're totally comfortable with him to go in there, whether it's running the ball, whether it's protections, catching the ball on the back field, we're totally comfortable with him. He's earned it."
That role didn't feel like enough for Turbin last season.
"Guys become frustrated because they want to be out there and they want to play all the time. That's not his role for us right now," running back Sherman Smith said. "Understanding his role is very important. The few plays that he gives us are always big plays."
Turbin had a strong rookie season with 80 carries for 354 yards and 19 catches for 181 yards in reserve duty. The knee injury that required surgery this offseason set him back a year ago. His effectiveness dipped and the frustration grew. In addition, he had three runs of at least 24 yards called back due to penalties last season.
"It wasn't funny last year but we laugh about it," Smith said. "This year his big plays are sticking."
After two seasons without finding the end zone, Turbin said it was a "special moment" to finally get his first score. Turbin kept the football and plans to give it to his father. With Lynch's contract becoming potentially unfeasible after this season, Turbin could be auditioning for a starting job for the Seahawks in 2015. But for now, Turbin has found a better mind-set and believes the production will continue to come.
"Appreciating what I have instead of selfishly thinking about what I want, I think that's played a huge role in my difference this year," Turbin said.
Notes: LB Bruce Irvin is questionable to play Sunday after suffering a rib injury in practice Wednesday. Irvin did not practice the last two days and will be a game-time decision. ... CB Tharold Simon is out with a knee injury.
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