The New York Jets have released yet another veteran in wide receiver Eric Decker.

ALAMEDA, Calif. — Let Bruce Irvin explain what he felt a few weeks ago, when it became official that Marshawn Lynch would come out of retirement to join the Oakland Raiders.

“I was stoked,” Irvin, a linebacker headed into his second season with the Raiders, told USA TODAY Sports this week following a mini-camp practice.

Irvin and Lynch won Super Bowl XLVIII as teammates with the Seattle Seahawks, who swapped late-round picks in 2018 with the Raiders to facilitate Beast Mode’s opportunity to play in his hometown.

“I would’ve been stoked either way, whether he was back in Seattle or here,” Irvin added. “I’m just glad he’s back in the game.”

Lynch, 31, has looked quick and sharp during the non-contact drills of minicamp. But beyond that, it is so evident in watching him interact during practices that he is meshing well with new teammates.

That’s hardly a shock.


Although Lynch has a reputation for maintaining distance from the media, he was arguably the most popular player within the Seahawks’ locker room. That vibe is still flowing. It is significant, too, that a team on the rise — with young stars such as Derek Carr, Khalil Mack and Amari Cooper — has added a respected veteran to the mix as it attempts to become a legitimate Super Bowl contender.

“He’s a real guy,” Irvin said of Lynch. “He’s not going to tell you what you want to hear, he’s going to tell you what you need to hear. Great teammate, but an even better person. He’s just Marshawn. What you see is what you get. Straight-forward guy. That’s what you want in a teammate. He’ll hold you accountable and tell you like it is.”

Lynch’s presence is quite the bonus for Todd Downing, promoted to offensive coordinator after two years as Oakland’s quarterbacks coach. Downing said after Wednesday’s practice that he tried not to get too excited during the weeks when speculation circulated about Lynch’s potential return.

Then the Seahawks allowed Lynch to meet with the Raiders, allowing the process to play out. Downing felt an instant connection.

“I thought, ‘Man, this guy has an infectious personality,’ ” Downing recalled for USA TODAY Sports. “He is so much fun to be around. He’s a competitor. He loves football. Stuff you would’ve never known about him, just from watching the tape. I thought, ‘Yeah, he’ll fit right in here and it will be a good marriage.’ “

Downing is quickly discovering that the Lynch behind the scenes is much more outgoing than the one who famously spent an entire Super Bowl media day session repeating, “I’m just here so that I won’t get fined.”

“I think he looks at us — and at his team — like family,” Downing said. “If he’s not around you every day and he doesn’t know you, he’s not going to open up to you. But being around us every day and building that rapport, he’s really opened. And he’s really become part of the fabric of not just the offense, but this team as a whole.”

It sounds like Lynch, in his return home, has already settled into a definite comfort zone.


Follow NFL columnist Jarrett Bell on Twitter @JarrettBell

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