Call it Plan F.
Coach Pete Carroll announced a surprise Wednesday: the Seahawks re-signed running back Christine Michael to help their ailing backfield, which is without Marshawn Lynch and Thomas Rawls because of injuries. Carroll cited Michael’s familiarity with the offense and the lack of time to teach some other free-agent running back it before Sunday’s game against Cleveland and beyond as a chief reason Seattle’s second-round draft choice from 2013 is back.
The Seahawks traded the 25-year-old Michael to the Dallas Cowboys in September when they chose Rawls over him to back up Lynch to begin the season. The Cowboys released Michael after he rushed for 51 yards in five games for Dallas, including Nov. 1 when he had five carries for 20 yards against the Seahawks in Arlington, Texas. The Washington Redskins signed Michael to their practice squad but released him Tuesday.
He got the call from the Seahawks through his agent later that day, the same day Seattle put Rawls, their rookie star with 830 yards, on injured reserve with a broken ankle and torn ligaments. Rawls got hurt in the first quarter of Sunday’s win at Baltimore.
Michael’s reaction to that Seahawks’ call?
“Wow,” he said before his reunion practice on Wednesday.
Michael called his last few, tumultuous months “very humbling.”
“Man, I’m happy to be here,” he said, maintaining a grin that seemed to take up most of the hallway in which he was standing just outside the team’s indoor practice field. “I’m happy to be with the guys that I call my brothers.”
He said even as he bounced from Dallas to Washington he remained in contact with those “brothers” here on the Seahawks.
Now he’s back as one of them again.
Carroll said Michael, who played in 14 games with the Seahawks the last two years, would not necessarily be the starter, that “he’s here to help us out.” Carroll said he sat down his former failed project before the signing and listing the team’s expectations for this second go-round.
“We visited with him today about that. We were pretty clear about what our expectations are,” Carroll said. “I think he’s pretty clear on what we’re looking for, and he’s going to come out here and compete and see how much he can help us.”
The coaches’ message, exactly?
“Just consistency,” Michael said. “He said some days I’d be on a roll ... then ...”
Michael basically drove Seahawks coaches nuts for two seasons plus this summer’s training camp, for having undeniable physical talent but being unable to consistently do the right thing. During a game in October 2014 at St. Louis he openly, visibly scoffed while still in formation before a play because he wasn’t getting the ball. He got pulled for that and angrily talked to on the sidelines for that.
The team also brought back former Philadelphia Eagles and Buffalo Bills runner Bryce Brown this week after releasing him last month and has 34-year-old third-down back Fred Jackson as an option.
Since Lynch’s last game Nov. 15 against Arizona, 10 days before abdominal surgery, Seattle has had as lead runners for at least parts of games Rawls, Jackson (two first-down carries for a total of 3 yards in the two drives immediately after Rawls got hurt last weekend) and since-waived DuJuan Harris (14 carries, 42 yards and a lost fumble at the Ravens 5-yard line after Rawls went down).
Brown is likely to be the lead back to begin Sunday’s game against the Browns (3-10).
“This league is about opportunity,” the 24-year-old Brown said, three weeks after Seattle released him for the second time during November. “My opportunity is in front of me right now.”
Carroll used the same word for what he’s given Michael again with the Seahawks.
“He has had a tough go of it” lately, Carroll said. “He seems very serious, wants to do something with this opportunity.”
Carroll also said there’s a good chance that Lynch, who is recovering from abdominal surgery, could return this season -- and that the chance will obviously increase if Seattle has playoffs games to play past the final three regular-season ones, the last one being Jan. 3 at Arizona.