SAN DIEGO — Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll wasn’t kidding this week when he said rookie running back Christine Michael would get the ball early and often Thursday.
Starting running back Marshawn Lynch played just two plays in Seattle’s exhibition opener before giving way to Michael, the team’s second-round selection out of Texas A&M.
Michael got his share of opportunities in Seattle’s 31-10 win over the San Diego Chargers. He ran six times for 21 yards in the first half. In the second half, he turned it up a notch, carrying 10 times for 66 yards — including a 24-yard run — for a total of 89 yards on 16 carries.
“We weren’t going to get frustrated with what happened early, and just (kept) sticking to it,” Carroll said. “He bounced the ball well outside on his long run – had a couple of nice runs. He’s got a long way to go, but he ran hard, looked quick and made some guys miss. So I think it’s a very good first game for him.”
Michael also lined up deep for two kickoff returns, but he caught both well inside the end zone for touchbacks.
His highest yardage total last year at Texas A&M was 75 yards in a 63-21 win over Auburn. He ran a season-high 13 times for 33 yards in 20-17 loss against Florida. Michael finished the season with 417 yards — at 4.7 yards per carry — and 12 touchdowns.
Michael showed some explosiveness running between the tackles Thursday, but he also tended to hesitate on outside runs.
“The mental part – the mental toughness,” Michaels said, when asked this week about the change in approach from college to the NFL. “Knowing your assignment, knowing your playbook — you never know when you’re going to be called upon.”
CHARGERS’ WHITEHURST FACES FORMER TEAM
San Diego quarterback Charlie Whitehurst played against the Seahawks for the first time since the Clemson product re-signed with the Chargers after two so-so seasons in Seattle.
After starter Philip Rivers led the Chargers on the team’s only scoring drive of the first half, Whitehurst took over, finishing 7-for-15 passing for 59 yards and two interceptions.
Whitehurst also was sacked three times and had a 17.8 passer rating.
That was reminiscent of how Whitehurst fared in his two seasons in Seattle, where he went 1-3 when called upon to start.
“It was weird seeing him out there,” said Seahawks safety Chris Maragos, who had one of the interceptions. “I faced him in practice a lot, so you see him, and you kind of get used to a guy’s tendencies.”
Seattle gave up a future third-round draft pick and swapped second rounders in a trade with San Diego to get Whitehurst, then signed him to a two-year, $8 million deal, with the thought that he would compete with Matt Hasselbeck for the starting quarterback job.
However, the competition never materialized, and Whitehurst served mostly as a backup.
With the Seahawks, he was 84-for-155 passing (54.2 percent) for 805 yards, three touchdowns and four interceptions for a 64.6 passer rating.
Whitehurst also was sacked 13 times.
Whitehurst’s highlight in Seattle was leading the Seahawks to a 16-6 victory over St. Louis at CenturyLink Field to clinch an NFC West title at the end of the 2010 season, with Seattle becoming the first team to make the playoffs with a losing record.
For the Seahawks, 18 players were held out either because of injury or for rest. They included WR Percy Harvin, WR Sidney Rice, WR Bryan Walters, RB Robert Turbin, CB Tharold Simon, CB Ron Parker, DE Bruce Irvin, LB Bobby Wagner, DE Cliff Avril, OLB Korey Toomer, C Max Unger, OL Mike Person, OL James Carpenter, TE Zach Miller, TE Darren Fells, DE Chris Clemons, DT Greg Scruggs and DT Tony McDaniel. … Doug Baldwin started at wide receiver in place of Rice. … Jesse Williams started at defensive tackle in place of McDaniel. … Mike Morgan started in place of Clemons at defensive end. … Allen Bradford started at middle linebacker in place of Wagner. … Luke Willson started in place of Miller at tight end. … Randy Mueller, a senior executive for the Chargers, spent 17 seasons as part of the Seahawks’ football operations department. ... Peninsula High graduate and former University of Washington standout Paul Skansi is a scout for the Chargers.