Seahawks RB Marshawn Lynch active against Panthers

— -- CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Marshawn Lynch is officially active for the Seattle Seahawks and will make his long-awaited return against the Carolina Panthers in Sunday's NFC divisional playoff game.

How much Lynch actually plays is a key question.

Lynch has practiced for two weeks, but he hasn't played in a game since Nov. 15. A week later, he underwent abdominal surgery. Since then, the Seattle offense has run through quarterback Russell Wilson.

Chances are, Lynch will share time with Christine Michael, who has handled the workload in his absence.

Lynch practiced all week and was listed as probable for the game. Coach Pete Carroll indicated Friday that Lynch was on track to play, but the running back's mercurial nature always creates a little suspense.

The Seahawks thought he would play last week against the Minnesota Vikings in the wild-card round, but Lynch -- after a full week of practice -- decided at the last minute that he couldn't play and didn't make the trip to Minneapolis.

This time, Carroll seemed more confident, saying Lynch was "faster and more explosive this week than last week. You could see that he made an improvement."