Last year, the Seahawks gave up on 2013 second-round running back Christine Michael, handing him to the Cowboys for a conditional seventh-round pick after undrafted rookie Thomas Rawls showed he could be a competent understudy to Marshawn Lynch.
It was an injury to Lynch, Rawls, and others that brought Michael back to Seattle late in the 2015 season, and the team noticed a changed man. That changed man continues to impress the team — and to push for a chance to succeed Lynch and to supplant Rawls as the No. 1 tailback.
So what has changed about Michael?
“Physically, I think he shows a greater consistency in hitting things the way we expect him to hit them,” coach Pete Carroll told reporters on Monday. “He was kind of a loose cannon at times — just trying to make things happen instead of really staying with the discipline of our zone run and stuff. He’s really on, he had a beautiful day [against the Chiefs] the other day to start us off, and just like he’s looked at practice again. He’s another one who looked really good at practice and carried over to the game. Mentally, certainly he’s different, he’s just grown up. He’s embracing his opportunity, he’s taking advantage of the chance that he’s getting by applying himself completely, totally. We have no reservation in saying that he’s doing a great job.”
This prompted a question regarding the manner in which players mature and grow once they are in the NFL.
“The guys stop trying to push the edges all the time,” Carroll said. “They realize they don’t have to try so hard to show who they are and what they’re all about. They settle in and they just fit together and they do things right more of the time. Year three, it’s usually two to three is when you start to make a transition if they’re going to do it.”
Michael didn’t make the transition in year three, so the Seahawks gave up on him. And that experience appeared to spark a maturation process that has allowed Michael to become a serious contender for the job the team envisioned for him when they made him a second-round pick three years ago.