Seahawks may not know what ‘J.D.’ stands for, but they’ll rely on McKissic to help the running attack

Nov 30, 2017, 12:48 PM | Updated: Dec 11, 2017, 10:08 pm
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J.D. McKissic, who formerly played at receiver, offers the Seahawks a versatile option at RB. (AP)

The Seahawks’ running backs have a problem.

It’s not about the fact that Seattle remains the only team in the league without a tailback that has rushed for 250 yards or more, nor about the fact that quarterback Russell Wilson accounts for more than one-third of the team’s total rushing yards (401 of 1,132). Seattle is still hacking away at that issue, hoping to find some kind of solution through the final stretch of the season – starting with a prime-time showdown against the Eagles Sunday.

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This issue concerns J.D. McKissic. Specifically, what the initials ‘J.D.’ shortens.

Eddie Lacy isn’t sure, though he remembers asking McKissic a while back. “I just call him Jermaine Dupri,” he said.

Teammate Mike Davis – who rejoined the group in practice Wednesday after a groin injury kept him out last week – said he also doesn’t know, but he’ll take a guess.

“It stands for ‘Just Do it.’”

McKissic’s full name isn’t listed on his player profile for the Seahawks or for his alma mater Arkansas State. In fact, you’d be hard-pressed to find it on his Wikipedia page – and that’s the kind of hard-hitting news that calls for an investigation.

“Joshua Dobbie,” McKissic said when asked to reveal his full name.

It’s news to Lacy and Davis, the latter of whom finds the reveal especially entertaining.

“It became J.D. in seventh or eighth grade, when I started playing sports,” McKissic added.

His coaches started calling him J.D., and eventually it stuck.

The 24 year old laughs off the news of his Wikipedia page. He also smiles when told of the comments made by head coach Pete Carroll, who earlier this week on 710 ESPN Seattle’s Brock and Salk said of McKissic: “There’s nobody that plays harder; there’s nobody that competes more.”

“I think it just comes from people looking over me all the time,” he said when asked about his mentality during training. “I’ve always been picked second or third – not ever being first. Just going to a small school in Arkansas State and watching guys who I always thought I was better than (get the reps). That’s my mindset; I think I’m better than a lot of guys who are put in front of me, and it pushes me.

“I’ve been smaller,” said McKissic, who stands 5-feet-10 and 195 pounds. “Playing against my older brothers and father and my mom in basketball, they’re beating me, I’m the shortest one. That pushed me to work extremely hard. And that’s just something I like to do. I feel like if I’m not working as hard as I can work at practice, in a game I can’t just jump up and do it. At practice when I’m working, I want the tight end to come down the field so you can get that block and I can get that cut-off. I’m trying to make game-like plays.

“I think the whole thing with me was just, ‘Practice how you want to play in a game.’ I try to visualize the other team and the guy I’m going against being so good that I gotta work extremely hard – if not, he’s going to obliterate me.”

Seattle acquired McKissic off waivers from the Falcons in December 2016. After starting training camp near the bottom of the depth chart, he worked his way up to make the 53-man roster and was activated for the first time in Week 4 against the Colts. In that game, he recorded two scores, including what remains Seattle’s only touchdown by a running back this season.

A depleted running back group has resulted in increased snaps for McKissic. And while he’s still playing in a limited role, he’s become a reliable option for short-yardage gains. He’s getting a handful each of carries and receptions, averaging five attempts and seven catches per game over the last three weeks, and has 145 combined yards in that time frame.

“I think I can help,” McKissic said of his involvement in the passing game. “I think I can help a lot. You can hit me and I can give you a five and a six and keep us on schedule.”

The Seahawks will need all the help they can get over the next five games. They’re standing at 7-4 and facing the second-toughest remaining schedule with home games against the Eagles (10-1) and Rams (8-3), and road games against the Jaguars (the league leaders in total defense), Cardinals and Cowboys. The NFC West title is still within reach and the Seahawks have the talent to pull it off, but mounting injuries and a stalled ground game have found them facing an uphill battle in December.

So, the more pressing problem remains for the Seahawks’ running backs, and unlike getting to the bottom of what J.D. stands for, it’s not one that’s going to be solved before Sunday. But a versatile and ever-willing McKissic – joined by a now-healthy Davis – are undoubtedly hoping they can be part of the solution.

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Seahawks may not know what ‘J.D.’ stands for, but they’ll rely on McKissic to help the running attack