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Is Seahawks running back C.J. Prosise getting his last chance to prove himself in Seattle?

UPDATED: Fri., Dec. 13, 2019

Seattle Seahawks running back C.J. Prosise (22) celebrates his touchdown against the Los Angeles Chargers during a preseason game Saturday, Aug. 24, 2019, in Carson, Calif. (Alex Gallardo / AP)
Seattle Seahawks running back C.J. Prosise (22) celebrates his touchdown against the Los Angeles Chargers during a preseason game Saturday, Aug. 24, 2019, in Carson, Calif. (Alex Gallardo / AP)
By Adam Jude Seattle Times

RENTON, Wash. – There is a wooden plaque that hangs, at a distinct tilt, on the right side of C.J. Prosise’s locker in the Seahawks’ clubhouse. A thin layer of dust has collected on the top edge.

The plaque was a gift given to Prosise by his best friend from high school, and it is engraved, in faux gold, with a quote from F. Scott Fitzgerald.

The quote reads, in part:

“For what it’s worth … it’s never too late, or in my case too early, to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit. Start whenever you want. You can change or stay the same. There are no rules in this thing. We make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you’ve never felt before.”

Prosise had the plaque with him through college at Notre Dame, and it’s been with him in his four seasons as a Seahawks backup running back. It’s been awhile, he said, since he’s looked at the quote, but now feels as apt a time as ever as he approaches what could be his last best chance to prove himself with the Seahawks.

“Sometimes it’s good to look back at it,” Prosise said Wednesday, turning to his left to point at the plaque. “Because if you’re not the man you want to be, start over again.”

Healthy and ready

This has been Prosise’s healthiest season in the NFL, and all he has to show for it are 14 carries for 43 yards and a touchdown and nine catches for 66 yards.

He was a healthy inactive for five consecutive games – the dust collecting, so to speak, as he spent time on the Seahawks’ scout team – and his one carry (for 2 yards) Sunday night against the Rams was his first touch since Oct. 20.

“It was tough, you know, coming in and not have much expectation playing-wise,” Prosise said. “It was frustrating. It was a hard time for me. But, you know, also I knew it was some adversity I had to get through and it’s going to make me better, make me stronger for the opportunity ahead.”

The opportunity has arrived because of a season-ending knee injury to Rashaad Penny on Sunday.

It was Prosise whose first three seasons with the Seahawks were, fair or not, defined by injury. From 2016 to ’18, he was out for more than twice as many games (35) as he played (16).

Finally healthy this season, he had fallen well behind Chris Carson (1,057 yards) and Penny on the depth chart. Even so, Seahawks running backs coach Chad Morton praised Prosise’s handling of his inactivity for much of the season.

“I’m so proud of him,” Morton said. “He’s been practicing really hard. … That’s why I can’t wait to see him out here. It would be different if guys have a bad attitude and they don’t want to practice … and they get that opportunity and now (all of a sudden) they want to go hard in practice. No, our guys go hard all the time and when they get the opportunity, they’re ready to go.”

Prosise insisted he is ready, and just in time too: He will be an unrestricted free agent after this season.

“I feel more prepared than ever,” he said. “I’m feeling great – healthy as I’ve ever been, as strong as I’ve ever been.”

A friendly backfield

The running backs, as a whole, are closer than any other time during Prosise’s time with the Seahawks.

“In the past, there’s been a lot of egos in the room. You definitely don’t see that this year,” Prosise said. “Everybody’s close-knit. We hate seeing Rashaad go down. Me and Chris, we’ve been here (a few years) and that’s like our little brother and that really hurt us, seeing that happen.

“For the room, it’s just going to make us closer, and coming down the stretch we know we’ve got to come up big. The team is going to depend on us.”

The Seahawks, after leading the NFL in rushing in 2018, are again one of the top running teams, averaging 140.8 yards per game (third in the league).

Prosise has moved up to No. 2 on the depth chart, with rookie Travis Homer third.

Prosise was quick to note that he’s been in this position before. During his rookie season in 2016, the Seahawks’ backfield was hit with several key injuries, leaving Prosise as the starter for a Week 9 game at New England.

He wound up rushing 17 times for 66 yards and hauling in seven catches for 87 yards in the Seahawks’ victory over the Patriots.

A week later, he started against Philadelphia and ripped off a 72-yard touchdown run. (On his next carry, he was tackled in the backfield and suffered a shoulder injury that derailed the rest of his rookie season.)

Morton pointed to those performances as an indication of what Prosise can do when healthy and when given a chance.

“He’s always going to be tied to those games, just because you saw him play a full game,” Morton said. “You saw all the different types of things he can do: run, catch the ball, stuff like that. He hasn’t had that opportunity … but he’s the same player.”

Pete Carroll this week called Prosise a “unique” back because of his ability as a receiver, and Prosise now gets one last chance to show that uniqueness for the Seahawks. He intends to make the best of it.

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