Seattle will face former Seahawk Christine Michael --- still the team's leading rusher --- against Green Bay Sunday at Lambeau Field.
Since the beginning of the 2015 season, Christine Michael has twice been let go by the Seahawks.
Sunday, he’ll also do something else for the second time since then in yet another of the seemingly endless convergences between Michael and the Seahawks — face them while wearing another uniform.
Michael’s first stint with the Seahawks ended with a trade to Dallas, for whom he then had five carries for 20 yards against Seattle in a 13-12 Seahawks victory on Nov. 1, 2015.
Roughly six weeks later, having been released by Dallas in the interim, Michael was back with the Seahawks.
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But Michael’s run as a Seahawk came to an end for good (we think) when he was released by the Seahawks following the win at New England on Nov. 13.
He was then claimed by Green Bay, and figures to get some carries for the Packers on Sunday when they host Seattle at Lambeau Field.
Michael, who is still Seattle’s leading rusher this season with 469 yards on 117 carries, has 10 carries for 23 yards for the Packers, including nine for 19 yards in the Packers’ 21-13 win over Houston Sunday. Three came during a late drive when the Packers were trying to run out the clock in what were snowy and slippery conditions.
And so far, so good for Michael in Green Bay, according to coach Mike McCarthy and quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who each spoke via conference call to Seattle reporters on Wednesday.
“We’re just trying to work him in the offense,’’ Rodgers said. “He’s an energetic guy and we’re trying to find ways to get him some more carries. Last week we did that. Gave him some more opportunities. It was some tough sledding on the field, footing-wise. But we’re trying to find ways to get him the ball because he brings a little something different to the backfield.”
Said McCarthy: “He’s doing a heck of a job. I think just the fact that he’s gotten more carries in the past two weeks, you just look at the progress he’s made. He’s very talented, he just put his nose down and has been very hard working. He’s very explosive and I really like the way he’s fit in the locker room so far.”
The Packers have been searching for answers to their running game all season, particularly after Eddie Lacy went down with a season-ending injury in October. Green Bay traded for Knile Davis of the Chiefs in mid-October, for instance, then released him two weeks later.
McCarthy said it was a no-brainer for the Packers to take a shot on Michael once he was available.
“We had a high grade on him coming out of college,’’ McCarthy said. “He’s been productive at his time in Seattle and we were fortunate to have the opportunity to bring him in.”
Interestingly, the Packers took Lacy with the 61st overall pick in the 2013 draft, a spot before the Seahawks then took Michael (though Seattle had made a trade with Baltimore to move down six spots, possibly thinking at least one of Lacy and Michael would be available).
Michael’s nine carries last week were actually the most of any Packer during a game in which the team showed it is unafraid to get creative to fill out its running attack — Ty Montgomery, a receiver who is being increasingly used as a running back led the Packers with 40 yards on six carries while receiver Jeff Janis had the team’s longest run with a 19-yard carry and fullback Aaron Ripkowski scored the team’s only rushing touchdown.
“Now we feel like we have a rotation,’’ McCarthy said. “We can get back to playing more balanced football.”
Which means the Seahawks will certainly get some looks at Michael Sunday.
One would imagine Michael would like to show the Seahawks they made a mistake in releasing him, a decision that was made in the wake of the emergence of rookie C.J. Prosise, the return to health of Thomas Rawls and the emergence of Troymaine Pope.
Seattle coach Pete Carroll said insisted at the time that cutting Michael wasn’t a statement on Michael’s abilities as much as it was simply deciding to go with the other three (though one thought is also that the team wondered how well Michael would respond to no longer being the starter, and possibly even being inactive on gamedays).
Wednesday, during a conference call with Green Bay reporters, Carroll again offered Michael nothing but compliments.
“He did a great job for us,’’ Carroll said. “We loved Christine. He’s been around us a long time, and I’ve been particularly close to him and didn’t like to see him go. But it’s just what we had to do to make things fit. He matured through the time and the challenges he faced. He got it together and presented himself in a great way and competed like crazy for us.”