The Seattle Seahawks on Wednesday re-signed Christine Michael to the team's 53-man roster.
The Seattle Seahawks turned to a familiar face Wednesday to bolster their suddenly depleted running back corps — Christine Michael.
As he prepared for the initial practice of his second stint with the team, though, Michael said he hopes to be a different player than the one the Seahawks saw the first time around.
And whether he can make good on that goal could be the difference in whether this is a short reunion between Michael and the Seahawks or possibly something more.
The team’s second-round pick in 2013 out of Texas A&M, Michael was traded before the season to Dallas for a seventh-round pick after being surpassed on the depth chart by rookie Thomas Rawls.
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The Seahawks were always enamored with Michael’s physical gifts but grew frustrated with his inconsistent approach to his job.
When Seattle coaches first inquired with Michael this week about possibly helping now fill in for Rawls — who is out for the season with a broken ankle suffered Sunday at Baltimore — they wanted to assess if his mindset was appropriate for the task.
“I’m just here to work and give you guys all I have,’’ Michael said he told them. “That’s all I can do. All I want to do. And I told them just like that.’’
Seattle offensive line coach and run game coordinator Tom Cable said early returns were encouraging.
“He’s got an opportunity, a responsibility to himself and to all these guys out there to do it, and I certainly think he’s embracing it and showed that today,’’ Cable said after practice. “So let’s move forward.’’
Michael’s career, though, has mostly been going in reverse the last few months.
He entered the 2015 training camp still regarded as a possible heir apparent to Marshawn Lynch after having played sparingly in 2013 and 2014 (254 yards on 52 carries). But a shaky preseason in which he had 118 yards on 32 carries compared to Rawls’ 158 on 30, while also losing a fumble, helped lead to the team’s decision to trade him.
Michael then played in just five games with Dallas, gaining 51 yards, before being released. After going unclaimed, he then signed to Washington’s practice squad on Nov.19. Washington released him Tuesday and he then signed with the Seahawks, who need depth in the backfield as they are also still without Lynch as he recovers from abdominal surgery on Nov. 25.
Seattle coach Pete Carroll said Wednesday that the signing of Michael was not a sign that they are skeptical about when Lynch will be back, but said the timetable for Lynch’s return remains unclear.
“There’s a really good chance that he will be back,’’ Carroll said. “If we can keep playing games, it’ll help. The more we can play, the better his chances are, so we’ll see.”
As for why re-signing Michael and not any of the other running backs out there? Carroll said with just a few weeks left in the season, there is great value in finding someone who already knows the offense and team.
“Under these circumstances, it does help us so we can move ahead,” Carroll said. “He’d been with us for a long time, so he does have a lot of background. That doesn’t mean that he’s going to be the featured guy or starter or anything like that. He’s just coming here to try to help us out. We’ll see how that works out. It is good to be able to pull somebody in that has that kind of background.”
Michael, meanwhile, said the course of this season has forced him to face some hard realities.
“It is a humbling experience and I just have to evaluate myself and do things right and come in with a good mindset and come in focused like these other guys are and come in here and do work,’’ said Michael.
Michael didn’t argue the thought that doing things as expected on an every day basis was what helped lead to his departure from Seattle.
“Like he (Carroll) told me, some days I be on a roll, some days I be focused,’’ he said. “I have a couple good days and then I, you know, I’ve just got to show them consistency. Work like these other guys. And they do have guys that work like Doug (Baldwin), (Jermaine) Kearse, and on the defensive side Earl (Thomas), all those guys. And that’s what I want to follow and what I need to follow.’’
Any hard feelings over his trade, he said, are gone.
“It was difficult, man,’’ Michael said. “But it’s all a learning experience and I know Pete and (Seattle general manager) John (Schneider), those guys are good at what they do and it was a good decision for them at the time or whatever. It was all okay, you know what I mean? And like I said, it’s all about right now and that’s what’s on my mind right now is to just come in here and work.’’
Cable said Michael will compete with Bryce Brown, who was re-signed on Tuesday, and Derrick Coleman this week in practice for the right to get carries on Sunday against Cleveland with Fred Jackson sticking with his role of being primarily a third-down back.
Cable said ideally that the team will “lean on’’ two of the three against the Browns.
Cable said Coleman, who has been primarily a fullback in his Seahawks’ career, will be a legitimate factor in the equation due in part to having been with the team all season. Coleman has 25 yards on five carries in his Seattle career but rushed for 1,840 at UCLA.
“He is the most familiar and when he’s had his opportunities, mostly in the preseason, he’s been rather productive,’’ Cable said. “And he’s going to do right. That’s the key —he’s going to do it right.’’
Michael’s hoping to show the Seahawks this time that he can, too.
“The first thing that came to my mind (when he heard the Seahawks might be interested in bringing him back) was ‘man you’ve got to do work if they do call you,’’’ he said. “You’ve got to do work because they are doing too good of a job right now.’’