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Christine Michael hits his stride early
When it came to first impressions during the first day of the Seahawks’ rookie minicamp, the best place to start with Christine Michael was those arms.
Think almost Julius Jones, if not quite Robert Turbin.
And the guns on the team’s top pick in the NFL Draft two weeks ago were on display early, because Michael had the sleeves of his No. 33 jersey rolled up and his shoulders and biceps were glistening because of the sweat that came from practicing in 80-degree weather – and also because of the increased reps due to there being only three running backs available.
The 5-foot-10, 221-pound Michael ran the ball as advertised after the Seahawks selected him in the second round, which featured the one-step-and-go-style preferred by assistant head coach/offensive line coach Tom Cable and also a splash of speed that will complement the hard-running ways of All-Pro back Marshawn Lynch and Turbin, the incumbent backup who was drafted in the fourth round last year.
Michael also displayed soft hands and a good catch radius as a receiver.
He ran hard, even when there was nowhere to run.
“He’s very quick, very quick. And sudden,” coach Pete Carroll said when asked for his first impression of Michael. “He caught the ball well, too.
“He didn’t have any trouble picking things up and understanding the system. So for a first day, he got off to a good start. He made a good impression for the first time out.”
There also was some NFL etiquette on display Friday. Derrick Coleman, who spent time on the practice squad last season, was at the head of the short running backs’ line. Michael was next, followed by sixth-round draft choice Spencer Ware – who also is working at fullback. Darrell Scott, one of the players at this camp on a tryout basis, was injured in the first drill; and Dominique Whaley, one of the rookie free agents agreed to terms just after the draft, wasn’t even on the field.
But Michael did what he had to do, by making the most of every carry he got and ever pass that came his way.
And why not? He is, after all, living his dream – even if his first step into the NFL was during the first practice of a three-day rookie minicamp.
Don’t get the wrong idea, Michael is human.
“I had to refocus every now and then, because this is what I dreamed about, this is what I prayed so hard on,” he said. “You couldn’t ask for anything better than to be here.”
Two moments stuck out in Michael’s first practice – one good; the other not so good, at least at first glance.
After darting up the sideline and into the end zone on one run, he let out a scream.
“Just excited to be here,” Michael said. “You’re just excited you’re getting the plays down, competing with my other guys like Spencer Ware. It was just fun. Just bringing the emotion to the game, and just having fun and competing.”
On another play, Michael took a screen pass and – despite a number of twists and turns, lunges and lurches – simply had nowhere to go. Slam the ball to the turf in frustration? Not Michael. Instead, he got a few choice words from Carroll followed by a way-to-go slap on the helmet.
“He was just telling me that things are going well, hang in, just to keep going,” Michael said. “(After the screen play), he was just saying, ‘Good protection of the ball.’ Just reminding me of some things, telling me to keep going.”
Just as Michael managed to do at Texas A&M, where he seemed to face one obstacle after another – from a broken leg his sophomore season; to a torn knee ligament his junior season; to a coaching change his senior season that saw role limited primarily to short-yardage and goal-line situation.
“That’s something that I don’t really focus on anymore,” Michael said. “Everything worked out the way it did. I couldn’t ask for anything better than to be in Seattle playing for Pete Carroll and for the Seattle Seahawks. And being under Marshawn Lynch and Turbin.
“Things worked out fine. I don’t really look back anymore. The only thing I have now is moving forward and helping this team win.”
And Friday’s impressive first impression definitely was a giant step in that direction.