SEATTLE – With the emergence of C.J. Prosise and the expected return from injury of Thomas Rawls quickly changing the face of the Seahawks’ backfield, the team on Tuesday decided to waive running back Christine Michael, likely bringing to an end one of the more enigmatic careers in recent Seahawks’ history.
The move was first reported by NFL.com.
The Seahawks also waived defensive tackle Sealver Siliga, according to reports.
Michael was the team’s surprise first pick in the 2013 NFL draft, taken No. 62 overall in the second round out of Texas A&M, viewed at the time as the heir apparent to Marshawn Lynch. But after failing to make much of a dent on the depth chart in 2013 and 2014, he was traded to Dallas for a seventh-round pick before the 2015 season.
When injuries shelved Rawls and Marshawn Lynch late in the season, though, Michael was re-signed (having been waived by Dallas) and momentarily revived his career, rushing for 102 yards in a late-season win at Arizona and leading the team with 70 yards on 21 carries in its wildcard playoff win at Minnesota.
After a solid training camp, he entered the 2016 season as the starter at tailback with Rawls still recovering from an ankle injury.
When Rawls then suffered a hairline fracture in his fibula in Week 2 against the Rams, Michael became the unquestioned starter and played well for a while, rushing for a career-high 106 yards in a win over the 49ers.
But his production and playing time decreased the last few weeks and he was benched in favor of Prosise, a third-round pick out of Notre Dame, for Sunday’s 31-24 win at New England as the Seahawks sought for ways to revive a running game that has been stagnant much of the season – Seattle is averaging 77.7 yards rushing per game, which remains on pace to be the worst in franchise history and is 30th in the NFL.
Rawls is also expected to return this week, all of which apparently made Michael – who was on a one-year contract for $725,000 – expendable.
Michael had just 22 yards on five carries against the Patriots while Prosise had 66 on 17.
Prosise started against the Patriots after the Seahawks had somewhat mysteriously listed Michael as questionable for the game on Friday with a hamstring injury. The team had not listed Michael on the injury report earlier in the week and the report of Michael was added to the team’s initial injury report only after coach Pete Carroll had met with the media.
Asked about Michael’s hamstring on Monday, Carroll dismissed the issue quickly saying, “He’s fine. He was fine.”
Carroll on Monday seemed to foreshadow that Michael would be on the outside looking in speaking enthusiastically of a pairing of Rawls and Prosise in the backfield.
“With C.J., the versatility of all the things he seems to be able to do at this point, and knowing that there’s really a style to Thomas that we’re really looking forward to seeing it could be a real nice matchup,” Carroll said. “Well see how that works.”
Rawls led the Seahawks with 830 yards before suffering a broken and dislocated ankle against Baltimore on Dec. 13. He then had 25 yards on 19 carries in the first two games this year before hurting his fibula. Rawls returned to practice last week and Carroll said on Monday he would be “practicing to play” this week.
Seattle running backs coach Sherman Smith had spoken frankly before a game against New Orleans on Oct. 30 about the need for Michael to be more physical – he had several times run out of bounds to avoid contract near the end of runs.
“I think the thing that helped us be successful in the past was we extended runs,” Smith said. “We had Beast Mode (now-retired Lynch), we had Thomas Rawls breaking tackles. So now we are doing a good job of getting what’s there but I think there are more yards there to be had.”
Michael has 469 yards on 117 carries for this season and 915 on 208 attempts in his Seattle career.
Michael’s re-emergence in his second Seattle tour led offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell to at one point refer to him as having “an awakening.”
And the storyline that Michael had now matured was a popular one among Seattle coaches and players. Michael wore the name “Michael Sr.” on his jersey this year after the birth of his son in the offseason and talked about that having led to him realizing he needed to not take his NFL career for granted, as he felt he had been guilty of during his first sting with the Seahawks.
“As a man, you have to grow up someday,” he said in August.
Siliga, who had been waived as injured in the preseason, was re-signed in October. He played in four games, making four tackles.
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