RENTON – What was a tailback-by-committee Sunday for the Seahawks now is a duo.
Coach Pete Carroll said Monday that Christine Michael and Bryce Brown will get the bulk of the work at tailback in practice this week as the Seahawks prepare for Sunday’s game against the St. Louis Rams.
“We’ll see, I think, a good combination of Bryce and Christine in there is what we will feature during this week in practice,” Carroll said.
Derrick Coleman got the start in Sunday’s 30-13 victory over the Cleveland Browns. But Brown, who was second in the rotation, and Michael, who was third, ended up getting most of the carries as the Seahawks showed a typically strong running attack despite playing for the first time this season without Marshawn Lynch or Thomas Rawls.
Michael led the way with 84 yards on 16 carries, and Brown had 43 yards on nine carries. Coleman had 10 yards on five carries, all on the first series.
The Seahawks again will be without Lynch against the Rams as he continues to rehab from abdominal surgery Nov. 25.
Carroll said Monday that Lynch will not return to practice this week and added that he can’t say if Lynch will make it back next week for the regular-season finale at Arizona on Jan. 3.
“I don’t think we are able to predict that yet,” Carroll said.
Fox Sports reported over the weekend that Lynch is working out with MMA trainer Tariq Azim in San Francisco.
Carroll confirmed that Lynch is “working out with his guys down home (Lynch is from Oakland) that he’s always worked out with.”
Carroll said “it sounds like he’s making good progress” but added that “each day is a challenge” for Lynch, who had never before had a surgery.
Lynch has played in just seven games this season and last saw action Nov. 15 against Arizona. Seattle has won all five games since then, averaging 166.6 yards on the ground (the Seahawks are averaging 147.4 rushing for the season, second in the NFL behind the 148.8 of Buffalo).
The Seahawks’ 182 yards rushing – their third-highest total of the season – and 5.1 yards per carry (fourth-best) Sunday gave them some comfort that they can continue to forge a solid running game for as long as Lynch might remain sidelined, and that it will have dependable options to pair with Lynch if/when he returns.
“To be able to have guys step in and play at such a high level, an elite level, is key,” quarterback Russell Wilson said Monday.
As Wilson noted, the running success was a further sign of just how much the offensive line has progressed.
“To be able to rush for 180-plus yards in a game, that’s a tribute to the offensive line and what they are doing,” Wilson said.
But it also answered some questions about what the team has in Michael and Brown, neither of whom was on the team’s roster the previous week – both signed last week after Rawls suffered a season-ending ankle injury.
Brown, who had been with the Seahawks for two stints earlier but did not play, saw his first action in an NFL game in more than a year against the Browns. Michael, the Seahawks’ second-round draft pick in 2013 who was traded before the season, got both the most carries and yards in a game in his career.
Carroll said of Brown and Michael: “We saw their styles really jump out and like that there’s some variance there.”
Specifically, Carroll said Michael “has got such fast feet. He’s so quick to change direction. Bryce is more of a downhill guy, more of a slasher, runs bigger. So they are just made differently and they run differently.”
According to Pro Football Focus, Michael averaged 2.4 yards after contact per rush Sunday, just off the 2.5 that Rawls averaged this season, which was second in the NFL.
The one caveat is that tougher tests await for Seattle’s new-look running game – the Browns rank last in the NFL in run defense, allowing 134.9 yards per game.
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