Pete Carroll sees a different Christine Michael in second stint with Seahawks

Jan 6, 2016, 11:33 AM | Updated: 11:36 am
"Last year was a humbling experience," said Christine Michael, who was traded once and cut twice in...
"Last year was a humbling experience," said Christine Michael, who was traded once and cut twice in 2015. (AP)
(AP)

RENTON – Christine Michael will presumably take a back seat with Marshawn Lynch returning from his injury, but he’ll do so having made a strong impression in his second stint with the Seahawks.

Just as important as what Michael has done on the field – averaging more than 4.9 yards per carry over the last three games – is how he’s handled himself away from it. Coach Pete Carroll said earlier this week that he’s seen a maturity and professionalism in Michael that were missing the first time around.

“I think it’s just been a process for him,” Carroll said. “I think – and I’ll throw this out at you – I think he’s more humble than he was. I think he was really trying to be flashy and all of that. He’s just come to work every day. He’s really serious about fitting in, and it feels like he’s matured in the sense that makes him a great candidate to play for us. We’re really excited about him.”

Michael flamed out as a second-round pick and was traded to Dallas before the start of his third season for the next-to-nothing return of a conditional seventh-round selection. The Cowboys released him in November then Washington released him from its practice squad a month later. That cleared the way for his return to Seattle after Thomas Rawls went down with a broken ankle, which left Seattle down two running backs with Lynch still recovering from abdominal surgery.

Michael has led the team’s running backs in carries and snaps in two of the three games since, and he set a career-high with 102 yards on 17 carries during Seattle’s win over Arizona. He also hasn’t fumbled, which was a recurring issue during his first stint with Seattle, especially considering how infrequently his opportunities were. When Michael broke free for a 45-yard run on Sunday, he finished it with two hands protecting the ball.

“He’s produced when he’s had his chances, he’s played really hard, he’s been really serious about every step of the way,” Carroll said. “The preparation and all of that, his concern for the football, all of the things. He’s just done a marvelous job in a very short time. We have nothing but the highest of expectations.”

Michael said all the right things upon his return to the Seahawks – that he was humbled after being discarded by three teams in less than four months, that he had a newfound focus and that he would make the most of his second chance in Seattle. All indications are that he was walked the walk.

For now, Michael’s role will likely be diminished now that Lynch is back. His future in Seattle beyond this season is far from guaranteed – he’ll be a restricted free agent – but the Seahawks will likely have some openings in their backfield. Lynch almost certainly will not be back, Fred Jackson will be 35 years old and no longer under contract while Rawls will be coming off a serious ankle injury – all of which means that the Seahawks could have a spot for Michael beyond this season.

Who could have imagined that even being a possibility when the Seahawks moved on from him back in September?

“This is a classic example of if you just keep hoping and you stay with it and you give guys chances that sometimes they come right through for you. This is looking like that,” Carroll said. “It’s only a few games, but they’re really strong indicators that he’s ready to take advantage of this opportunity. Nothing less than what we had hoped for a while back. Sometimes, it’s a strange course that you’ve got to go to get here, but it’s working out.”

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