Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Marshawn Lynch tried to avoid fans while he slipped in and out of various gyms in the Buffalo area.
While Lynch served his three-game suspension for repeated nefarious behavior, he wasn't allowed to be around the Buffalo Bills. He couldn't be on the sidelines. He couldn't work out at the club's facility.
So he sheepishly tried to stay in football shape on his own and tried to avoid interaction.
"I tried to stay away from as many fans as possible," Lynch said.
But his plan was impractical in a small market that's so passionate about their team. He encountered fans, and they all had an opinion about his return.
"It was weird," Lynch said with a laugh on Monday, his first time back in the Bills' locker room. "I been hearing a lot of different, mixed things. Some were staying I could stay where I'm at. 'Fred's doing a wonderful job,' which I don't mind. Some are telling me they can't wait until I come back. You get mixed emotions from fans.
"I'm just glad I got these dudes on my side to let me know that I was missed."
The Bills went 1-2 without Lynch, most recently losing to the New Orleans Saints 27-7 in Ralph Wilson Stadium. Their efforts were more respectable than their record.
Backup running back Fred Jackson ranks fourth in the NFL with 291 rushing yards. Jackson also had 15 receptions for 134 yards and one touchdown.
Adding Lynch can only help an offense that has been erratic and a line that's hurt and struggling to make blocks but not penalties.
Lynch rushed for 1,000 yards in each of his first two seasons despite missing games. He got more involved in the passing game last year, making 47 catches for 300 yards. He went to his first Pro Bowl.
"You know what you're going to get from me, and you kind of seen what you're going to get from Fred," Lynch said. "So you can combine those two things and get two hundreds from both of us. And when I say two hundreds, I mean two hundred percents. That's what you can expect from our backfield every game."
Lynch essentially dared NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to suspend him.
Lynch pleaded guilty in March to a misdemeanor gun charge stemming from an arrest last February where police searched Lynch's parked car and found a 9mm semiautomatic handgun in a backpack in the trunk along with four marijuana cigarettes (no drug charges were filed). He was sentenced to 80 hours of community service and three years probation.
This wasn't his first episode of misconduct, Lynch was involved in a hit-and-run incident in Buffalo in May of 2008.
"There's only so much I can say to put into words about how I feel," Lynch said, "but it was hard."
Lynch was asked what he learned during his time away.
"Same old me," Lynch said. "Same ol' G. That's not going to change."
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