The running back has been in spotlight the entire preseason, and he showed why Thursday night.

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OK, so we’ve written and heard this story before. But the more Seahawks running back Christine Michael plays, the more apparent it is: He is a more mature running back this season than he’s been at any point in his career.

“His game has definitely stepped up,” receiver Doug Baldwin said. “It’s just growth. Everybody goes through a process. Nobody comes in as polished as everybody wants them to be. It takes different people different paths. But C-Mike has worked extremely hard to be where he’s at right now, and all the credit to him because he could have stayed the same.”

An example: In the first quarter of Thursday’s exhibition game against the Minnesota Vikings, Michael took a handoff up the middle, and it didn’t look like he had much room to work with. But Michael stayed the course, was patient and disciplined and slipped through the line when a sliver opened up at the last instant.

Former Seahawks fullback Michael Robinson calls that running through “dark creases,” and another former fullback, Derrick Coleman, once said the running backs who can’t do that don’t stick around.

Vikings 18, Seahawks 11

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It’s an essential thing for a Seahawks running back, and on one play at least Michael did it and picked up 10 yards.

“You’ve just got to trust the system,” Michael said. “You’ve just got to trust those guys up front, just like they trust us, and sometimes you’ll come out of those dark-crease runs.”

There were other small but noticeable examples: Michael switching the ball in his hands to limit his chances of fumbling, the way he ran with two hands on the ball up the middle, his ability to cut back and go at the line.

Michael also has lined up at receiver, and it appears the Seahawks have no problem using him out wide like they did Marshawn Lynch. Michael caught a pass along the sideline on Thursday.

“That’s something I’ve worked on,” Michael said. “That’s something I have improved on.”

Cornerback DeShawn Shead started opposite Richard Sherman.

Shead started and spent the first half as the Seahawks’ starting right cornerback.

Shead and Jeremy Lane have been battling for that job in the preseason, and right now, Shead appears in the lead.

Shead is the big, physical corner the Seahawks like. His teammates have always talked about his strength; if he gets his hands on you, they’ve said, it’s over. The questions have been later in routes, or if he doesn’t get his hands on you, but Shead has improved in his fifth season.

Lane played nickel in the first half.

RB Thomas Rawls looks close to return.

Rawls dressed with the rest of his teammates and was in full pads. He took part in the Seahawks’ pregame routine, taking handoffs, juking and cutting with the ball and jumping around with his offensive linemen. He looked just like he does before regular-season games.

General manager John Schneider told ESPN 710 Seattle on his pregame radio show that the Seahawks hoped to get Rawls some carries in the fourth exhibition game.

Long-snapping issues

Nolan Frese, a rookie out of Houston and the only long-snapper on the roster, had a rough night.

Frese’s snap was high on kicker Steven Hauschka’s 53-yard field-goal attempt; Hauschka missed the kick. And later, Frese had a low snap on a Jon Ryan punt.

It will be interesting to see if Frese hangs on to the job or if the team signs somebody.