RENTON – A chance to be the hero for the Seahawks at Denver on Thursday night slipped through Demitrius Bronson’s hands.
But that play has been about the only opportunity that Bronson has let get away as he attempts the rather daunting task of making the Seattle roster at tailback as an undrafted rookie free agent.
After Seattle’s 21-16 loss to the Broncos, in which Bronson rushed five times for 22 yards, Carroll volunteered his name as one of a handful of players who stood out, saying, “He ran the ball real nice at the end of the game when he had his chances.’’
It was one of several times in recent weeks Carroll has cited the play of Bronson, a 2008 Kentwood High graduate who later spent two years at Washington and then finished his career at Eastern Washington.
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That Bronson rushed for just 600 yards in three seasons at Eastern while battling a slew of injuries might not have made him the most obvious candidate to make a darkhorse run at a roster spot. But the Seahawks liked what they saw of Bronson during a private workout before the NFL draft, then signed him after he competed as a tryout player in the team’s rookie minicamp in May.
At 214 pounds, he’s about 15 pounds lighter than in his final days at UW, when the Huskies were also toying with him playing fullback, a position he played for a while at Eastern.
“He’s very decisive, he’s real natural carrying the football, he’s got a real good sense,’’ Carroll said Tuesday. “He catches the ball well, and his timing in the game was very good. He reads the line of scrimmage really well.’’
If only he’d hung on to a pass from Terrelle Pryor with just over two minutes left that almost certainly would have put Seattle ahead, the game might have ranked as a complete breakthrough for Bronson. A play later, Pryor threw an interception that sealed the win for Denver.
Bronson, though, says he’s confident there’ll be another chance, and looks now at the play as a moment to learn from rather than to stew over.
The play was a screen, intended from the start for Bronson, who knew the minute he heard the call that it might result in a touchdown.
“They put me in a position to win the game for them, and it’s something that every kid growing up looks to get — that NFL touchdown,’’ he said. “When they called the play, it was like ‘here we go. He’s giving me a chance.’ Obviously I didn’t mean to drop it. But I’ve just got to go back to my fundamentals, catch the ball first, look it in, and then run.
“I just thought I got too touchdown-happy. But then again, that’s part of being in the NFL. Stuff like that, you’ve got to let it go and move on to the next play because you never know when your name is going to be called again. I thought about it for a couple of days, but now it’s just the mentality of just moving on and getting better from that.’’
Bronson hardly has an easy road to a roster spot, playing behind Marshawn Lynch, Robert Turbin, Christine Michael and Spencer Ware. But it was a challenge he accepted when he took the offer from the Seahawks instead of one from the handful of other teams that called.
“I just thought this was my shot,’’ he said. “A great opportunity with the hometown team and everything.’’
The loss in weight, he says, has made him a little faster than in his college days. He left UW after the 2010 season with Chris Polk entrenched as the starter, saying “I just needed to start over and get my confidence back.’’
Alternating between fullback and tailback, and a constant injury bug, made it hard to find consistent footing at Eastern.
Now with the Seahawks, he thinks he’s shown the running back he always thought he could be.
“I’m competing with some monsters in that backfield,’’ he said. “But I’m also competing with myself, making sure I am doing all the little things right, not making any mental errors, and just letting that work out from there.’’