Is Christine Michael aware of his career high in carries?
“No,” the Seahawks running back said Friday at his locker following practice. “I’m not.”
No need to become aware now. He’s about to eclipse 17 carries this weekend.
The Seahawks (1-1) on Friday listed lead running back Thomas Rawls as doubtful for Sunday’s game against San Francisco (1-1). That was after he missed his third consecutive practice.
Coach Pete Carroll said Rawls strained a muscle in his leg above his shin in the loss at Los Angeles last weekend. It was his second game back after he broke his ankle on Dec. 13.
“He hasn’t been able to do much,” Carroll said, adding that the new injury has nothing to do with his broken ankle.
So it appears Sunday will be Christine Michael’s time.
Michael and rookie fifth-round pick Alex Collins are Seattle’s only two healthy tailbacks.
Quarterback Russell Wilson is Seattle’s other running threat — usually. However, he will be playing on a sprained ankle for the second consecutive week.
Carroll said that at practice on Friday, Wilson was the best he’s been since Miami’s Ndamukong Suh sprained the quarterback’s right ankle on Sept. 11.
“He’s better than he was last week,” Carroll said after the team’s indoor practice. “He did fine, finished on a really high note today, was really the best that he’s been in the last two weeks.
“He looked really good today.”
Wilson on Thursday agreed that he is far better now than before. He looked relatively immobile, instead of his usual, elusive self, during the 9-3 loss at Los Angeles.
“I’m definitely feeling better this week,” Wilson said. “Last week was a battle. But getting a little bit better every day and every week, that’s the goal. The trainers are doing a great job, and just the mentality of doing everything I can and just to heal up as best as I can and to move quickly.”
A career day in rushing by Michael would sure help Wilson, his ankle — and the Seahawks offense. The offense has scored 15 points through two games and is coming off Seattle’s fewest points in a game in five years.
“Whether I’m in there, Alex is in there, or Thomas Rawls, we are all trying to get the job done,” Michael said. “We are trying to get this offense up and running, in the run game, speaking about everybody — including myself. Hopefully we can get that done this week.”
Michael’s career high in carries came in the 2015 regular-season finale at Arizona, when Marshawn Lynch and Rawls were out injured. Carroll said the Seahawks are more than comfortable with Michael being the lead back, and with him carrying the biggest load he has in four seasons in the NFL.
“We really are,” the coach said. “He’s averaging five yards a carry for a reason. He had a really good offseason, he had a terrific camp.
“All indications are that he’s ready for a bigger load. He’s had 20-something carries so far. He’s ready to carry the ball 20-something times in a game. He could be fine with that.”
Those indications include the six yards per carry Michael had last week in L.A. But the Seahawks gave him only 10 carries. That was despite Rawls being on the sideline for the final 2 ½ quarters.
Line coach Tom Cable, the run-game coordinator, said Michael needs to be more patient. That could be easier for him to do against the 49ers, knowing he’s going to get more than 10 carries.
Cable reiterated how impressed the Seahawks are with the matured, more professional Michael in his second go-round with the team. Seattle traded its second-round draft choice in 2013 to Dallas for a conditional pick in September 2015, essentially giving up on him.
The Cowboys cut Michael and Washington released him from its practice squad last fall before the Seahawks re-signed him on Dec. 16, after Rawls broke his ankle and the since-retired Lynch was out injured.
“I said before I think we’re all impressed with how much he’s grown up and matured. The true test of it is, can you do it for the long haul?” Cable said. “He’s done a great job since he came here. I’m going back to last fall when he came back. You just want to make sure he’s doing all those things. Not just in football, but in his life away from the field and just keep growing up.”
Michael has a personal stake in Sunday’s game. It’s the first one since he tried to bull through two Rams, going for the line on third-and-10 last weekend with 45 seconds remaining. Linebacker Alec Ogletree and safety Mark Barron crunched Michael, knocking the ball loose.
Michael’s lost fumble at the Rams’ 29 — three plays after Wilson’s 53-yard completion to Tyler Lockett had Seattle believing it was rallying for a potential win — ended the Seahawks’ final chance.
“I could have done a better job protecting it (the ball),” Michael said. “It was a good play by them. I’ve just got to focus better in those situations, especially when they are going to be coming to me. I’ve got to focus and I’ve got to be better in that situation.
“I was trying to put a lot into the play, trying to get as much as I can. Think it would have been like fourth-and-2. But, you know, with the way our offense was going I strongly feel that fourth-and-2, we can get that first down and hopefully win that game. So I definitely put it all on me. Got to be better in those situations. Definitely have to be better in those situations.”
Wilson, among others, came to Michael after the Rams game with a common message: “Hold your head up.”
That advice could come in handy Sunday against San Francisco.
“It was definitely tough on me,” Michael said. “I’m hard on myself. I failed in that situation.
“But a lot of guys fail in a situation before they become great at it.”
The Seahawks listed rookie RG Germain Ifedi as doubtful for Sunday. Carroll sounded as if the first-round draft choice might make his regular-season debut next weekend, Oct. 2, at the New York Jets. “He didn’t really do anything of note (Friday — or this week in practice), but he’s ready,” Carroll said. “I think there’s a really good chance that he’s going to be ready to do some stuff next week.” … The Seahawks list WR Tyler Lockett as questionable, but he practiced fully on Thursday and Friday on the knee he sprained last weekend. He will play against the 49ers.
Gregg Bell: @gbellseattle