RENTON – Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell softened comments he made about Seattle being “running back by committee” this season.
Bevell clarified what he meant when he told a group of season-ticket holders last week, “We’re going to be a running back by committee.” That statement came in response to a fan’s question about the role of second-year running back Christine Michael.
“I was referring to a question at that thing, and I was thinking more out here,” Bevell said of Seattle’s optional organized team activities. “We’re kind of rolling all of those guys and really like what we’re seeing from them and just moving them around. That’s not our policy. It’s not something that we talk about or do that way. It’s just something I threw out there really just thinking about the OTAs.”
Running back Marshawn Lynch has yet to participate in Seattle’s optional practices this month, leading Michael and Robert Turbin to split the bulk of the workload.
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Bevell’s initial comments came at a town-hall meeting with fans last week. When asked about the number of carries expected from Michael in his second season, Bevell smiled, nodded his head slowly and said, “That’s a good question. We’re going to be a running back by committee. But we need to see what’s going on with Marshawn. Obviously, he hasn’t been here for the OTAs, but we fully expect him to be ready to go. We really, really like what Christine Michael is doing right now.”
That triggered speculation about how the Seahawks would dish out carries.
Lynch finished sixth in the league in rushing last season with 1,257 yards, and only Philadelphia’s LeSean McCoy (314 carries) ran the ball more than Lynch (301).
But the running-back position has undergone an evolution in recent years. In 2003, 13 running backs had at least 310 carries. In 2013, only McCoy had that many.
The position has become, by its nature, a committee for most NFL teams. Lynch and the Seahawks have been the exception the past few years more than they have been the norm.
Lynch will be 28 years old this season, and it’s plausible to think the Seahawks will look to give Michael, their top pick in 2013, more carries.
He carried the ball only 18 times during his rookie season because he wasn’t consistent enough to earn the trust of the coaching staff. He struggled with the nuances of the position — footwork, hitting the proper hole, pass protection — and Bevell said the biggest change in Michael this year is his “attention to detail and becoming a professional football player and kind of taking it like it was his job.”
“I think there were some distractions going on for him a little bit,” Bevell said, “and he just really needed to focus in on the detail of things: footwork, reads, assignments. All those kinds of things that he’s really doing right now. He’s really kind of turned the page on last year.”
Michael will still have to compete for carries with Turbin, who held on to the backup job for the second straight season last year. And both will be looking to pick up carries from Lynch, who has had at least 285 each of the past three years.
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