By Danny O’Neil
RENTON – The Seahawks’ backfield will be even better armed this season.
That was evident from the start of Seattle’s rookie minicamp, which began on a sunny afternoon so hot it could have been a metaphor for this team’s expectations.
Running back Christine Michael – the team’s second-round pick – took the field, the short sleeves of his jersey rolled up to his shoulders to reveal a pair of biceps as muscular as the rest of his physique.
“He’s very quick,” coach Pete Carroll said after Friday’s practice. “Very quick and sudden. Caught the ball well, too, and didn’t have any trouble picking things up, understanding the system. For the first day, he had a good start.”
Coach Pete Carroll liked what he saw from running back Christine Michael during the first day of Seattle’s rookie minicamp. (AP)
He is 5 feet 10, 221 pounds and every bit as muscular as you’d imagine a running back known for his downhill, physical style coming out of Texas A&M.
Michael was the first of 11 players Seattle drafted last month, and Friday was the first time for them to take the field. While they weren’t wearing pads they did wear helmets as they tried to grab hold of the opportunity now in front of them.
“Excited to be here,” Michael said. “Just excited, getting the plays down and competing with the other guys. It was fun, just bringing emotion to the game and competing.”
Michael was a surprise pick. No one foresaw the Seahawks choosing a running back so highly not only because Marshawn Lynch is coming off a career year, but Seattle is pleased with backup Robert Turbin, a fourth-round pick a year ago. Not only did Seattle draft Michael, but it chose Spencer Ware in the sixth round of LSU. Ware will compete for a spot at fullback, but he carried the ball some, too.
That’s all part of the plan for building upon what was one of the league’s best running games as Seattle ran the ball more often than any team in the league in 2012.
“He’s a really aggressive, tough runner,” Carroll said of Ware. “We love that about him so we’re trying to transfer that nature in the fullback spot. He came in at 218, which is a little light at that spot, which I don’t mind at all. At this point, he’s coming in to compete and battle and wants to get in good shape, and he is. He’s an exciting football player.”
Right now, it’s all excitement and anticipation. Seattle’s rookie class is here through Sunday, and in the first day tight end Luke Willson looked as fast as the Seahawks could have expected and probably caught as many passes during that two-hour practice as he did his entire senior season at Rice when he had nine receptions.
Korey Toomer is back. A linebacker chosen in the fifth round in 2012 out of Idaho, Toomer didn’t play as a rookie, eventually undergoing shoulder surgery, but he could be a factor this season. Tight end Darren Fells – who was signed earlier this offseason and released earlier this week – is also at minicamp as a tryout.
But Friday was like new employee orientation for players like Michael, who took his first steps as a Seahawk.
“My main focus was to learn the plays,” Michael said. “Like I said, get the playbook down, get the install down.”
He also imagined to impress along the way, especially with his ability to catch the ball, and while we really won’t get an idea of how physical a runner Michael is until training camp when the pads are put on, Friday’s workout offered a first impression of his physique, which was certainly impressive.
At least it was until practice ended and Michael unrolled the sleeves covering up those biceps.
“Practice was over with so I just let them down,” Michael said.